The Triathlon New Zealand (Tri NZ) Middle Distance National Championships are moving to the country’s South Island in 2018 for the first time in 20 years.
Previously held at the Port of Tauranga Half, the National Champs will now rotate between the North Island and the South Island to ensure all triathletes around New Zealand are able to compete for a title. On 17 February 2018, the Tri NZ National Championships will take place on the iconic Challenge Wanaka half distance course.
In another first, it will be the Challenge Wanaka Half (1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21km run) that features the pro race rather than the traditional full distance Challenge Wanaka (3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run).
In the past, Challenge Wanaka has attracted many of the best athletes in the world including multiple world champion Chris McCormack (AUS), former world record holder, Yvonne van Vlerken (NED), uber-cyclist Maik Twelsiek (GER) and Australia Hall of Fame’s Belinda Granger. It is anticipated that the shorter distance event will continue to attract the crème de la crème of international triathlon.
The organising team at Challenge Wanaka add that, with the timing of the race being close to the Christmas and New Year break, this is likely to suit many more of the sport’s elite. The traditional full distance Challenge Wanaka will continue to run as normal as an age group race.
“With the prestige of holding the Triathlon NZ Middle Distance Triathlon Champs, we wanted to ensure the field was as deep as possible by moving the pro competition to the half distance,” said Challenge Wanaka Race Director, Bill Roxburgh. “We’re excited to be able to offer South Island athletes a National Championship close to home and to offer North Island athletes the opportunity and incentive to visit the country’s most beautiful holiday and sporting destination.”
Tri NZ President, Arthur Klap said, “The last time the Middle Distance National Championships were held in the South Island was in 1998 in Lake Hayes. Port of Tauranga Half have done a fantastic job; but moving the championships between the North and South Islands ensures all triathletes in New Zealand have the opportunity to compete for a national title.
“Triathlon has grown massively since those early days, both in terms of participation levels and number of quality events throughout the country. We’re looking forward to crowning our new 2018 champions in Wanaka in February.”
Now in its 12th year, Challenge Wanaka was voted the ‘world’s most scenic triathlon’ at the US-based Triathlon Business International (TBI) Awards and has grown from less than 100 to over 2,500 participants. 2018 also marks the 10th anniversary of the Puzzling World Junior Challenge Wanaka, an event that now attracts over 900 children aged 5-11 and has become an integral part of the local schools’ sporting curriculum.
Challenge Wanaka will take place on Saturday 17 February 2018.