Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

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Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

Three world champions join record field for Lake Wanaka Half

Posted on: Wednesday 8th January 2014

This year’s Lake Wanaka Half, part of the Challenge Wanaka Triathlon Festival, has attracted a record number of entries with three world champions amongst a field of more than 1,200 athletes.

US long-distance legend and 1988 World Champion, Scott Molina will line up on Saturday 18 January with two flying Kiwis – 1994 ITU World Champion, Jenny Rose and 2013 XTERRA World Champion, Nicky Samuels.

Nicky-Samuels-NEWS

Nicky Samuels (credit – MMPro).

Hundreds of other competitors aged between 13 and 80 are also taking on the 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run that coincides with the full-distance Challenge Wanaka race on the same day.

Scott Molina won the Triathlon World Championships in Kona, Hawaii in 1988 along with over 100 other pro races. He regularly competed head-to-head with compatriot, Mark Allen who was voted ESPN’s Greatest Endurance Athlete of All Time in 2012. Now resident in Christchurch with his wife Erin Baker – herself a former New Zealand professional triathlete and world champion – Scott will be hard to beat in the 50-54 age group category.

Asked what made the Southern Lakes so special, he said: “I get down to Wanaka a few times every year due to loving the place and the people. Wanaka and Queenstown represent the magic of New Zealand that’s kept me living here for the past 25 years.”

Takaka-born Jenny Rose was a professional triathlete from 1989-2000 and now runs a coaching business in Wellington having just received a Masters in Sports Coaching from the University of Queensland. In 1994 she took the ITU Triathlon World Series title after winning three races. During her career she was also ITU World Long Distance Triathlon Champion, French and Dutch National Triathlon Series Champion, holder of all TriNZ triathlon titles and twice nominated for Halberg NZ Sportswoman of the Year.

Wanaka’s Nicky Samuels won this year’s XTERRA World Championship held in Maui, Hawaii – widely regarded as the world’s premier off-road triathlon. Nicky was a member of the 2012 New Zealand Olympic Triathlon Team and competed at the London Games. She has raced in previous Lake Wanaka Half team events and this year swims for ‘Mrs Fubar’ with former NZ Senior Women’s Hammer Champion, Raylene Bates on the bike leg and a runner yet to be named.

Race director, Victoria Murray-Orr said the Lake Wanaka Half would continue to attract athletes of all abilities due to its accessible distance and stunning setting.

“Any half distance triathlon is still an enormous challenge for individuals and teams and Lake Wanaka’s tough but beautiful terrain makes finishing this race an awesome achievement. Attracting elite athletes like Scott, Jenny and Nicky as well as ‘weekend warriors’ competing for fun or to raise money for charity means there’s a great mix of people which only adds to the amazing atmosphere on race day,” she said.

Challenge Wanaka Triathlon Festival attracts in excess of 2,000 athletes over a multi-day celebration of sport involving all ages and abilities. The flagship event, Challenge Wanaka long distance triathlon (3.8km/180km/42.2km) is part of the renowned Challenge Family global series of triathlons which features 22 races in 14 countries, including the world’s largest long distance triathlon, Challenge Roth in Germany.