With a superb field of pro athletes expected at Challenge Wanaka in less than two weeks, there’s lots of anticipation around the men’s battle between Braden Currie (NZL) and Kyle Smith (NZL) and the women’s race between Hannah Wells (NZL) and Teresa Adam (NZL). Scheduled for Feb. 21, Challenge Wanaka will be the first major race of 2021.
While Braden Currie is the defending champion at Challenge Wanaka, he will face some heavy competition from Kyle Smith, who has beaten Currie at their last two races in their home country – Rotorua and Tauranga. Still, Curry enjoys the “home field” advantage in Wanaka, while Smith will be racing there for the first time. Currie is looking forward to an exciting race: “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.”
The race won’t just be between those two, of course – other strong athletes in the field include: 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 in the women’s race
Triathlon fans are expecting another amazing battle between two of the strongest athletes in the women’s field: Hannah Wells and Teresa Adam. Wells took the Challenge Wanaka title in 2019 and crossed the line second last year, while Adam is racing Challenge Wanaka for the first time. Both women are very eager to push their performances to the next level and take the win.
The race won’t just be between those two, since the competitive women’s field at Challenge Wanaka also includes Rebecca Clarke (NZL), Emily McNaughton and Maeve Kennedy. Clarke is well known for her strong swim, while McNaughton is a new pro who took fifth at the Tauranga Triathlon earlier this season. Australian Kennedy is also new to the pro ranks.
Challenge Family CEO Jort Vlam: “Bring it on!“
Challenge Family CEO Jort Vlam is very much looking forward to
Challenge Wanaka. “Of course we have had a special year, in which we had
only a few races due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Challenge Wanaka 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 surroundings, with such a stellar field. Bring it on!”