At the start of Challenge Wanaka she was considered the big favorite – in 2019 she finished first and in 2020 second – and Hannah Wells more than lived up to that role. With strong show of power, she just won Challenge Wanaka 2021 in a time of 4:24:31.
Initially it was the strong-swimming Rebecca Clark who led the race after climbing out of the water in 25:30. Wells followed quickly, conceding just two seconds. Missing from the field was Teresa Adam, who announced a few days ago via her social media platforms that she was not fit and would not be racing. Maeve Kennedy-Birdsall and Emily McNaughtan came out of the water behind Clark and Wells, but both had conceded a few minutes and didn’t look to be in contention for the win.
For Wells it was a totally different story. After the swim she quickly took the initiative in the race and, once on the bike, she began to increase her lead. After 36 km of cycling her lead was over a minute on Clark and, after 54 km, that minute had doubled. Entering the transition area, Wells enjoyed a 4:30 lead as she started the half marathon.
While the men’s race unfolded into a very exciting race during the half marathon, the women’s race was the opposite: Wells didn’t just have strong bike legs, she also ran extremely well and kept increasing her lead. After nine km, her lead had grown to seven minutes and, three km further into the race another minute was added to the gap. In the end, she won the race comfortably in a final time of 4:24:31. Rebecca Clark took second in 4:34:19, while Maeve Kennedy-Birdsall finished third in 4:38:27.