The first CHALLENGE series race of 2021 takes place this weekend as some of the world’s finest triathletes – including a number of PTO stars – descend on Wanaka Lake, New Zealand.
A blossoming local rivalry gets another instalment in the men’s race as PTO World-Ranked #11 Braden Currie and #33 Kyle Smith lock horns yet again. Meanwhile Hannah Wells, #29 in the latest rankings, takes centre stage in the women’s race as she bids for a hat-trick of victories.
CHALLENGEWANAKA is renowned as one of the toughest courses on the half-distance calendar, set against the stunning scenery of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage area and New Zealand’s Southern Alps.
The event is one of the country’s largest triathlon festivals, normally attracting 2500 participants and around 10,000 spectators.
When is CHALLENGEWANAKA?
CHALLENGEWANAKA takes place on Saturday February 20, 2021, with the race briefing taking place at 0700 local time (1800 GMT Friday, 1300 ET Friday, 1000 PT Friday).
The Men’s Challenge Wanaka Half Pro start takes place at 0715 local time with the Women’s Challenge Wanaka Half Pro starts three minutes later at 0718.
PTO athletes at CHALLENGEWANAKA
There will be a strong contingent of PTO members challenging for honours, with two former winners expected to be amongst the leading contenders.
A two-time victor at the event, Hannah Wells will be hoping she can complete the trifecta after successes in 2016 and 2019. She fell just short a year ago when finishing second to Czech Radka Kahlefeldt.
Sadly, Hannah will not be able to continue her growing rivalry with fellow New Zealander Teresa Adam for the third time in as many months, after Teresa was forced to pull out over the weekend.
In the men’s race Braden Currie will bid to secure a third successive victory in the event after winning in 2019 and 2020. He will face stiff competition though from Kyle Smith, who got the better of him at both Rotorua and Tauranga.
The 34-year-old Currie though has the advantage of vast experience at Wanaka, while this weekend will be a debut for Smith.
Another Kiwi Rebecca Clarke, #90 in the latest PTO World Rankings, will be hoping to boost her position in the global list with a strong showing.
Also on the start line is yet more New Zealand talent with Jack Moody adding intrigue to the proceedings.
CHALLENGEWANAKA prize money
The podium finishers in both the Men’s and Women’s Pro races take home prize money for their efforts.
Victory secures the winners NZD $5,000 each, while second place earns $3,000 and third place nets $2,000.
CHALLENGEWANAKA takes place on a new course in 2021.
Set in the stunning location Glendhu Bay on New Zealand’s South Island, the race starts with a swim in the tranquil waters of the Bay.
A 1.2-mile challenge awaits the athletes on a course which is anti-clockwise and triangular. Water temperatures are expected to reach 17-18C. Swimmers must navigate two buoys before heading back to shore.
The bike leg takes place on a looped circuit from the Bay to the bottom of Treble Cone Ski Field and back. The route will be cordoned off from traffic to allow a safe and secure road tide. Athletes will complete five laps of the circuit.
The run will then take place through the tracks of the breathtaking Glendhu Bike Park.
Recent winners at CHALLENGEWANAKA
Men’s winners (Half Distance)
• 2020 – Braden Currie
• 2019 – Braden Currie
• 2018 – Javier Gomez
• 2017 – Tyrone Hellyer
• 2016 – Craig Savage
Women’s winners (Half Distance)
• 2020 – Radka Kahlefeldt
• 2019 – Hannah Wells
• 2018 – Annabel Luxford
• 2017 – Jane Fardell
• 2016 – Hannah Wells