New Zealand's largest annual triathlon festival, Challenge Wanaka, is once again set for a record field of both amateur and professional athletes.
With two weeks of entries remaining, numbers have already surpassed 2014 levels over the full (226km) and half (113km) distance events in both individual and relay team entries.
Challenge Wanaka is internationally regarded as a bucket list event and has recently been listed as a top five finalist in the Triathlon Business International Awards to be announced later this month. This is reflected in this year's event which is 28% international and the number of offshore athletes in the 27-strong pro field attending for the first time.
While defending champion, Dylan McNeice will have his eye on the top spot for the third successive time, he will have strong competition from Joel Jameson (GBR) who took out third at Challenge Henley in the UK, along with Jose Jeuland who this year was on the podium in Challenge Vichy, France. Plus there's Wanaka local multisporter turned triathlete, Dougal Allan who will be looking to improve his last year's third place.
And all eyes will be on Braden Currie (NZL) who is planning a back-to-back Coast-to-Coast defence and inaugural long distance triathlon at Challenge Wanaka. Fresh from giving triathlon legends, Craig Alexander and Cameron Brown a run for their money in Tauranga this weekend, his debut over 226km is eagerly awaited.
In the women's pro field, Gina Crawford (NZL) returns in a bid to gain her 13th long distance title which would also be her sixth Challenge Wanaka title. She is joined on the start line by three American athletes, Kristin Lemos, Charisa Wernick and Katya Meyers, all Wanaka first timers but all regular visitors to the podium in their native USA. Also featuring is fellow Kiwi, Michelle Bremer who is also no stranger to the podium.
Challenge Wanaka also attracts those just starting out on their triathlon career. 30% of the full distance Challenge Wanaka field are taking on the 226km challenge for the first time, reinforcing Challenge Family's commitment to the future of the sport by encouraging new participation. This is achieved through their inclusive, family friendly events and relay team programmes. Challenge Wanaka is the longest running Challenge Family event outside of Challenge Roth and in 2016 will celebrate its 10th anniversary. It shared the world stage with just one other Challenge event in 2007, in 2015 there will be 44.
Entries to Challenge Wanaka 2015 remain open until 25 January 2015 at www.challenge-wanaka.com.