Trio of triathlete couples try nuptials

Three overseas couples competing in Challenge Wanaka triathlon events this weekend are also planning to take on the challenge of marriage.

Andrew Charles, from Brisbane, and Shannon Proffit, originally from Christchurch, are travelling from Australia to get married at The Venue tomorrow - three days before the race. Lindsey Dymond and Kelly Nagy, from Hawaii, will tie the knot at Wanaka Station Park on January 20.

And, Daniel Edge and Alicia Norris, from Macgregor, in the ACT, will mark Australia Day weekend with their wedding at Lookout Lodge on January 25.

Andrew and Shannon have taken part in Challenge Wanaka together for the past three years and have competed in more than 30 long-distance events between them.

Shannon finished second in the 20-29 age group in 2013 and says Challenge Wanaka is one of the couple's favourite races.

''I'm from Christchurch so, although I now live in Australia, the South Island still feels like home.

''The atmosphere at Challenge Wanaka is the most relaxed and friendly of any race and nothing beats standing on the edge of the lake on race morning looking out to the first buoy with the snow-capped mountains in the distance,'' she said.

Their guests will include close friends and former world champions, Scott Molina and Erin Baker, with Scott also competing in the Lake Wanaka Half.

Lindsey said that he and Kelly were inspired to marry in New Zealand after racing at Challenge Wanaka 2012.

Most of their wedding party is flying from Michigan, Washington and Hawaii.

''We absolutely fell in love with the area, the culture and graciousness of the residents.

''Coming from an area with an economy so rooted in the visitor industry, we can really appreciate those attributes.

''A few months after registering for the 2014 race, I proposed to Kelly and it soon became clear to us both that we wanted a small, intimate ceremony abroad.

''Wanaka has been a place that we've always wanted to return to and also share with our loved ones, so it was a perfect fit,'' he said.

Daniel proposed to Alicia just before Challenge Wanaka 2012.

In his first long distance event, Daniel won the 20-29 age group and finished 16th overall.

They are both passionate about triathlon.

Daniel is considering turning professional and Alicia works as a sport dietitian at the Australian Institute of Sport.

''We really love it here.

''We started to think about a wedding in Wanaka after we went home after the 2012 race.

''This region is just so beautiful and we'll be bringing around 80 guests across from Australia to see it for themselves.

''With two years to organise everything, the preparation has gone well. But I suppose I could say Alicia has done the organising and I have done the training,'' he said.

Race director Victoria Murray-Orr said it was ''heart-warming'' to hear about the marriages.

''Triathlon may look like an individual sport but the huge effort and preparation required means the support of other people is essential.

''Each athlete competing brings with them an average of nearly five friends and family as their support crew which should increase this year with all the extra wedding guests.''

The Challenge Wanaka Triathlon Festival attracts more than 2000 athletes.

The flagship event - the Challenge Wanaka triathlon - consists of a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle ride and a 42.2km run and is part of a global series of 22 races in 14 countries.