Top triathlete to challenge again
CHALLENGE WANAKA has announced a strong international field for the fifth edition of the long-distance triathlon that will also be the largest yet with more than 1200 athletes taking on the spectacular and testing 226km course on January 15.
New Zealand’s top long-distance triathlete Gina Crawford will defend her title for a third successive year and faces stiff competition in the form of Australia’s leading female athlete, Rebekah Keat.
Keat broke the world record at Challenge Roth last year and has several iron distance victories under her belt, including the inaugural Challenge Copenhagen. They are joined by top British athlete, Joanna Carritt and emerging Australian pro Jodie Scott who took out fourth last year.
The men’s field sees another Challenge winner, Jimmy Johnsen (DEN), who took out Challenge Barcelona in record time in October as well as Petr Vabrousek from the Czech Republic who has competed in all five Challenge Wanaka events. The field also includes two former Challenge Wanaka champions, Germany’s Marc Pschebizin (2008) and Canada’s Luke Dragstra who won the inaugural event in 2007.
‘‘I couldn’t possibly miss doing Wanaka again,’’ Dragstra said. ‘‘This race is true triathlon and a beauty one at that. At Wanaka you will feel the real challenge of iron distance competition with all the elements, sun, heat, wind, hills and off-road running. Beyond that you also get the treat of an atmosphere almost unmatched in the world of triathlon brought to you by fantastic sporting community.’’
They are joined by a strong Australian contingent including Brian Fuller, Adam Holborow and Justin Granger with New Zealand’s Keegan Williams, who has taken out a second and third.
Running success: Gina Crawford on her way to winning this year’s women’s section of Challenge Wanaka. She’ll be back in January to defend her title.