LAKE WANAKA, New Zealand (January 4, 2009) – With entries now closed for the 2009 event on January 17, Challenge Wanaka organisers today announced an overall increase in entries of 52.5%, totaling 474 athletes. The 2009 field of New Zealand’s fastest growing iron distance triathlon will include 19 nationalities, 140 individuals and 117 relay teams.
New Zealand’s fastest female iron distance athlete, Gina Ferguson is back to defend her title while multisport world champion, Richard Ussher is lining up for the first time fresh from his victory at the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge. Other big names include inaugural winner, Luke Dragstra (CAN), Hillary Biscay (USA) and Petr Vabrousek (CZE) as well as defending men’s champion Marc Pschebizin (GER).
The eldest individual competitor is 72-year-old Garth Barfoot while the eldest relay team is the Septuagenarians with a combined age of 230 featuring the event’s eldest competitor, 79-year-old runner, Stan Gawler. The youngest competitor is the 13-year-old swimmer for Team McTryHards, Cameron McMahon, who is currently ranked fifth in New Zealand for his age group.
The Challenge Wanaka Festival of Triathlon runs from 11-17 January and includes the Puzzling World Junior Challenge Wanaka and the Tri NZ Contact Cup sprint series, as well as other smaller events. The flagship iron distance event on Saturday January 17 will see athletes line up to take on the 226km course, either as individuals or as part of a team. They will complete the 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run in anything between 8.5 and 16 hours with the final competitors crossing the line to a welcome of fireworks and thousands of cheering spectators.
Challenge Wanaka is part of the global TEAMChallenge Series that includes six events in Germany, Spain and France as well as New Zealand. For more information, visit www.challenge-wanaka.com.