The revenge of Els Visser: stunning victory Challenge Wanaka

Els Visser wins Challenge Wanaka (Picture: Challenge Family)

Last year Els Visser finished second at Challenge Wanaka and that was mainly because she unexpectedly rode the wrong way on the bike, but now the Dutch athlete erased the negative memories of that disappointment in one fell swoop by winning the 2024-edition in more than impressive fashion. After the swim, Visser had to chase full on, but on the bike she took the lead to finally decide Challenge Wanaka in her favor during the run.

In any case, Visser’s competitors have been warned whenever she is at the start somewhere, because even though Visser almost always comes out of the water a few minutes behind the fastest swimmers of the day, once the motor on the bike turns on, there is virtually no place left to hide. That was no different today in New Zealand’s Wanaka: Rebecca Clarke came out of the water first with a swim time of 24:27 minutes, followed just over a minute later by Aleisha Wesley. Visser then followed in fifth, but was nearly 4:30 minutes behind and had Britain’s Laura Siddall directly at her feet.

On the bike, Clarke and Wesley initially got together, but the main focus was on Visser, who did not ride quietly, but rather raced to the front of the race and made up her deficit at an almost dizzying pace. After thirty kilometers, there was already less than a minute of her deficit left, and after sixty kilometers, Visser was even in the lead already. Clarke was still following closed behind, but Wesley had already been dropped and not much later Clarke also had to let the Dutchwoman go. Once back in T2, Visser’s lead appeared to have grown quickly, as Clarke followed at 2:03 minutes, Wesley at 5:25 minutes and Siddall, then fourth, at 9:47 minutes.

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Els Visser going full gas in Wanaka (Picture: Challenge Family)

Visser did not had to look over her shoulders anymore during the run: she was so strong that even then she saw her lead grow and grow. Halfway through the leaden course – which is entirely unpaved and leads twice over a tough climb – her lead over Clarke was already more than six minutes, and Siddall, though advanced to third place, was running behind at over 11 minutes.

In the end, Visser won the race in 4:34:46. Clarke was second in 4:43:29 and Siddall third in 4:44:22.