With a superb field of pro athletes at the Integrity Homes CHALLENGEWANAKA in less than two weeks, eyes are particularly focused on the men’s battle between Braden Currie (NZL) and Kyle Smith (NZL) and the women’s battle between Hannah Wells (NZL) and Teresa Adam (NZL). CHALLENGEWANAKA will be the first major race of 2021.
While Braden Currie is the defending champion at CHALLENGEWANAKA, he may expect some heavy competition from Kyle Smith, who has beaten Currie the last two races in their home country – Rotorua and Tauranga. Still, Curry enjoys the home ground advantage in Wanaka, while Smith will be racing there for the first time. Currie is looking forward to an exciting race and loves to battle Smith again. “It’s been a really fun summer in that way, having a good challenge and someone pushing us really hard to improve and I think that will be important for my chances at Kona, to get pushed this hard early on. For me it is always awesome to be able to race at home. I’m really lucky to be able to roll out the door to a course I know well. It is exciting with the change of course and to have some variation in it: I think it will be a lot of fun to race here. Plus with the world being so unknown and what race opportunities might come along this year, it is nice to take the chance to race when we can and not think too far ahead of ourselves. Wanaka always is an amazing place to race.”
Of course there will be some other strong athletes at the men’s race, with amongst others Jack Moody (NZL) and Jason Hunt (NZL). Hunt is a new face in the pro scene, while Moody was last year’s fastest runner in Wanaka.
Fireworks at the women’s race
At the women’s race there is expected to be another amazing battle between two of the strongest athletes out in the field: Hannah Wells and Teresa Adam. Wells became the CHALLENGEWANAKA champion in 2019 and crossed the line second last year, while Adam is racing CHALLENGEWANAKA for the first time this year. Both women are very eager to put their performances to the next level and claim victory. But, the battle isn’t only between these two power women, since CHALLENGEWANAKA also has Rebecca Clarke (NZL), Emily McNaughton and Maeve Kennedy racing for medals. Clarke is well known for her strong swim, while McNaughton is a new pro that has proven her worth thanks to a fifth place at the Tauranga Triathlon earlier this season. Australian Kennedy is also new to the pro field. CHALLENGEFAMILY CEO Jort Vlam is very much looking forward to CHALLENGEWANAKA. “Of course we have had a special year, in which we had only a few races due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CHALLENGEWANAKA did go ahead last year and now opens the season once again. It’s good to see all the hard work the local team has put in this race and it’s lovely to open this season with such a spectacular race in such a beautiful surrounding and including a stellar field. Bring it on!”