New Zealanders Dylan McNeice and Gina Crawford today extended their phenomenal record at Challenge Wanaka by scoring their third and sixth victories, respectively, at what is regarded as the world’s most scenic long-distance triathlon.
Read the recap from Challenge Family below:
McNeice became the first man to three-peat at the iconic race set amongst New Zealand’s stunning Southern Alps with a time of 8:37:14, while Crawford has still only been beaten once on her former home course, finishing in 9:31:51.
The men’s race was much closer than 2014 with New Zealand’s Dougal Allan finishing second (+2:51) and Courtney Ogden (AUS) in third (+12:32). The 42-year old Ogden prevented a Kiwi clean sweep by beating Auckland’s Carl Read into fourth by exactly one minute.
Last year, McNeice was never less than six minutes ahead after 50km of the bike leg, but this year he was pushed all the way by a record pro men’s field, especially the impressive Allan. McNeice completed the 3.8km swim in a new course record of 45:33, taking nearly a minute off his 2014 time, but Allan rode a sensational bike leg of 4:30:50, smashing Richard Ussher’s 2010 record by almost 12 minutes. This after he came out of the water in 42nd place overall.
Commentator, Mark Watson joked with the top two after the race: “The world is screwed if Dougal Allan can learn how to swim!”
McNeice was quick to agree: “It was a lot harder than last year. Dougal rode so well and I honestly thought he was going to catch me. He pushed me and I ran that first lap [on the run] too hard. I really felt it in the last 15km, but I think that got me the title so it was worth the risk.”
“Everyone out there was amazing – it felt like there were a lot more people on the whole course,” he said.
Crawford was totally dominant in the women’s race, despite facing a record number of pro athletes. Exiting the swim in 50:55 among a group of pro men, she maintained a lead of between five and seven minutes during the 180km bike leg and completed the marathon run 11:55 ahead of Laura Siddall (GBR) and 20:25 ahead of Michelle Bremer, originally from Mount Maunganui now living in Sydney.
Siddall made her mark in only her second long-distance triathlon after turning pro last year. Wanaka’s German pro, Simone Maier has been a consistent performer in recent years and finished today’s race just off the podium in fourth.
Crawford was delighted to return to the top of the podium after finishing second last year to Candice Hammond.
“It’s always a tough race here but the crowds are fantastic,” Crawford said at the finish line. “It pushes you to the finish so thanks to everyone for your support. I find it difficult leading, I really love chasing when it’s easier to keep focused and motivated. When you’re out front you don’t know what’s happening behind you.”
“I had a pretty smooth day. I was happy with everything and didn’t have any low patches at all. Recovery is now my focus before racing in two week’s time. It’s just nice to have this good result—it’s always really special to win here in Wanaka.”
Wanaka, New Zealand – Feb. 22, 2015
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Dylan McNeice (NZL) 8:37:14
2. Dougal Allan (NZL) 8:40:06
3. Courtney Ogden (AUS) 8:49:46
4. Carl Read (NZL) 8:50:47
5. Braden Currie (NZL) 8:56:11
1. Gina Crawford (NZL) 9:31:51
2. Laura Siddall (GBR) 9:43:46
3. Michelle Bremer (NZL) 9:52:16
4. Simone Maier (GER) 10:05:58
5. Charisa Wernick (USA) 10:18:54