New Zealand’s Kyle Smith seems to be in perfect shape at the moment – after victories at the Rotorua and Tauranga Triathlon earlier this season, he just claimed the win at Challenge Wanaka. After a head-to-head battle with last year’s winner, Braden Currie, Smith proved his fitness right from the start, eventually taking the win in a time of 3:50:15. Currie was just 13 seconds behind.
Challenge Wanaka did not have a particularly large pro field – only four men and four women – because only New Zealanders were allowed to race due to all the COVID-19 restrictions. Still the race was very interesting to watch, since Smith, who was competing in Wanaka for the first time, blasted right from the start. He came out of the water in 23 minutes with a three-quarter of a minute lead over Currie. Jack Moody and Jason Hunt, the two other pros in the race, were minutes behind after the swim.
While Currie did everything he could on the bike to close the gap to Smith, he wasn’t succeeding. At the turnarounds – there were five bike laps of 18 km to complete, nine km out and back – he regularly braked late and took risks, but he didn’t make up any time. In fact, Smith saw his lead grow to 3 minutes after 36 kilometers on the bike and, in the more than 50 km that followed, his lead only increased. When they entered the transition area, Smith had a comfortable gap of almost five minutes.
During the run, things still got really exciting, as Currie kept up a brisk running pace and quickly got closer to Smith. About halfway through the half marathon, the difference between the two down to 2:30, so Currie suddenly seemed to be in the hunt for the win. With only one kilometer left the gap was down to just 15 seconds, but despite his efforts, Currie would end up 13 seconds short of the victory. Moody claimed the third spot.