Challenge Wanaka receives top award from New Zealand events industry

Challenge Wanaka receives top award from New Zealand events industry

Victoria Murray-Orr, who has headed the internationally acclaimed Challenge Wanaka Triathlon for the past nine years, has been named New Zealand’s Event Professional of the Year at the annual New Zealand Event Awards in Auckland.

Challenge Wanaka is New Zealand’s largest long distance triathlon festival, involving more than 2,500 people of all ages and abilities each February – set against the spectacular alpine backdrop of Lake Wanaka. The event is part of the global Challenge Family series of triathlons.

In her role of Challenge Family global marketing and communications director, Murray-Orr also played a key role in the series’ significant international growth from just a handful of events to its current standing of 48 races in 24 countries.

“Running a successful event can never be down to just one person. It involves a whole team, with diverse skills, working towards one common goal – and keeping calm if the unexpected happens. The role of a good event professional is to offer the team clear direction and leadership. And it’s about putting yourself in the participants’ shoes to really understand what they want and need to ensure they have a great event,” Murray-Orr said.

“I feel so fortunate to have had such an amazing opportunity. Nine years ago I was asked to help a small triathlon in Wanaka with under 100 competitors. Now, Challenge Wanaka is an internationally recognized event, an integral part of the local community and involves over 2,500 athletes, 650 volunteers and millions of viewers around the world.

“A single person is nothing without the support of exceptional people and the team behind Challenge Wanaka is just that. We have learnt and grown together and built an event that New Zealand is proud of.”

Vicki Watson, New Zealand Association of Event Professionals (NZAEP) chief executive, said that experienced, trained event professionals are key to running a successful event, but it is the leadership behind these teams that make the most difference.

“Victoria lives the organisation’s values, has unwavering commitment to excellence and constant improvement, and cares for the team all day, every day. It was rewarding to see first-hand the dedication to both the team and the event.”

The 10th anniversary event of Challenge Wanaka in February was Murray-Orr’s last as race director and she now works for Perception PR and Marketing in Christchurch. However, she remains on the board of the Challenge Wanaka Sports Trust and will continue to be involved in the event in a marketing and PR capacity.

Challenge Wanaka Triathlon 2017 takes place on 18 February over both the full (226km) and half (113km) distances. For further information and entries, visit

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