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'Challenge Wanaka',

Iron-Distance Triathlon, N.Z.


A big thankyou to my sister for taking the raceday photos below.




This event was won by Luke Dragstra and Belinda Granger in the inaugaural race in 2007.

Luke is back again in 2009 and will be keen to win.

Canada's Luke Dragstra wins.


In 2008 Marc Pschebizin ran a 2hr 48min run to take it out. Not bad considering there are plenty of rolling hills in the bike and run to wear you down.


New Zealand's Gina Ferguson took the women's win after leading the entire way in 9:33:46, another course record.

The course has had some minor changes this year so the old records will need to have a star beside them. The course has changed but it is still over the same basic terrain.

There is a $5000 bonus this year for any man who can break 8hr 10min, or woman who can break 9hrs. It is put in by an insurance company as advertising and will take a superhuman effort to acheive. Gina Ferguson is the only person who could come close in my mind, as she went sub 9hrs twice in 2008.


Hilary Biscay was 2nd both the previous years so she will be after another good performance.


And a notable mention to Petr Vabrousic who would have won the inaugaral event if it was not for wearing webbed gloves in the swim. Last year he had the misfortune of losing his bike on the way to Wanaka so had to borrow a bike the day before. He then punctuerd during the race, so I would say his determination is second to none(14 ironman completed in 12months also re-inforces this view).


I also expect Chris Macdonald to be strong and he led off the bike in 2008 and placed 2nd. He has taken out an ironman race in the USA also in 2008 so has the form.



Two USA pros have entered the race for the first time and their names are familiar. Blake Becker and Justin Daerr will both be looking to show through, but they are a step behind those that have raced the course before.


Richard Usher who comes from a multisport background is my pick as a wild card to challenge for the first place. He is familiar with this area having in Central Otago in recent years. He has decided to move his focus to long disatnce triathlon and started well with a 7th place in IMNZ earlier this year only 24mins back from Cameron Brown. Maybe it is because I did many multisport races years ago in this area that the Richard Ussher factor is adding to the excitement of seeing this race unfold.

He has d


Can't write this report without mentioning Justin Granger who placed 2nd in 2007 and 3rd in 2008, but i pick he will be about 4th this year, unless something like a mechanical happens to one of my other picks.


And Keegan Williams is pretty handy also but I don't know his recent form.


And Garth Barfoot will be the most inspirational figure again if he can finish the race individually in the alotted time. There is a photo of Garth as part of a team at the bottom of this page.



The team component is neccesary to keep the race numbers up and and even though they start several hours after the individuals it is good seeing them out on the run. o moves focu There is a $


Luke is back this year


Below are the race photos from 2008 and here is a link to the 2007 'Challenge Wanaka'



The sun was just coming up as this image was being captured.


It was a beautiful calm day to begin and it stayed like this all day.






Ready to go in the clear warm 18.6 degrees water.










First swimmers coming in above and below.












Gina Ferguson was first woman out.





Andrew Abakahn looking set for a good day ahead.








The events don't run without great support from local people like those above.






Concentration for the day ahead.







One of international athletes who made up 44% of the field.










Chris McDonald had the fastest bike split of the day in just under 5 hours.












Marc Pschebizin having a good bike and setting himself up well to catch Chris MacDonald on the run.






Hillary Biscay setting herself up for second place in tthe womans professional field.








Mark 'Sharky' Smoothy shown here brought a team over from Brisbane that he coaches.








The crowd support along alot of the cycle course was energizing.







A fast transition to make the most of the lead from the bike.







Last years first place getter Luke Dragstra punchured a tyre on the bike this year.






Chris Bisley took out the 20-29 age category in a fast 9 hr 31min.







Exiting the bike/run transition.









A 2hr 48min run set up Marc Pschebizin to take out the 2008 title, pictured here about 200meters from the finish line.






High fives all round for a well deserved 2nd place pro.igh




Luxembourg based French athlete Ludovic Biancalani about to cross the line.







This is the only image I have of someone crossing the finish line. It just happens to be the creator of this site(me).

To read more detail of how I found the race you can click here or the event pages 'ironman training' links. Have to say that this photo was taken just over a minute after finishing(note the finishers medal around the neck).

To read P



Pre-race and post-race photos are all below.





Petr Vabrousek pictured above right arrived in Wanaka in good time from europe but unfortunately his gear didn't.

A call was put out at the pasta party for some help with gear and Chris McAteer very kindly loaned his bike. Understand Chris is involved in coaching and based in Christchurch(N.Z), and certainly has the triathlon experience credentials.

Spoke to Petr briefly after the race and he explained a puncture slowed him down. He was feeling really strong up to then and it must have drained some energy as he said he considered pulling out soon after the puncture. In the true toughness/courage that he obviously has(14 ironman in the last year), he carried on to place 6th and only 22mins behind the winner. e PetrP






Merryn Greenwood placed 4th in her first iron-distance triathlon in the pro-category. P





German pro Susanne Buckenlei's race didn't go as she would have planned.






It was great to see twice as many competitors as last year taking part.







The 'Challenge' series race director Felix Walchshofer(left), with a tri-N.Z official.








Put this image in because Bill helped set up the swim section of the race with his partner(swim director). See he had a good swim and finished well in his first iron-distance triathlon.

Also he got the best deal ever by buying this bike as is, on an online auction. He explained that the previous owner said the pressure was on, and it was him or the bike to go from the relationship. P







First in Age group at left.P







First in Age group, at right with the two local race organisers.P








First and second woman overall.P








Top individual men and woman. First overall Marc Pschebizin speaking.P








This is the most experienced team ever to complete a full ironman. Combined age of 214 years.

Photo was taken the day before the event for the 'Southland Times' newspaper.

One of them had a heart by-pass done 6 years ago and one of the original team had to pull out to have a by-pass also. Awesome achievement in a new record time for their ages of 13 hours 56min 55sec.

The above is greatly inspirational in my view.







Mens Pros


Germany's Marc Pschebezin set a new course record in a come-from-behind win in 8:47:49.


Chris McDonald held on to finish second in 8:49:37.


Justin Granger took third in 8:54:08.






Womans Pros



New Zealand's Gina Ferguson took the women's win after leading the entire way in 9:33:46, another course record.


Hillary Biscay, second here last year, took second again in 10:11:17.


Celia Kuch third in 10:32:39.





To visit the official 'Challenge Wanaka' website click here.



Mens and Womans tri-suits are available for purchase on this site at the clothing link here or at the top of this page or by clicking on the images below.





Womans triathlon clothing:






Mens gear:




Thanks for looking.