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.
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.
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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