Top triath­lete to chal­lenge again

Central Otago Mirror - - SPORT -

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.

Photo: JOHN HAWKINS

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.

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