Gina Crawford, of Wanaka, rides past Paddock Bay on her way
to second place in the Challenge Wanaka women's race on
Saturday. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Challenge Wanaka would be held a month later than its
traditional race weekend next year, organisers announced
The long-distance triathlon - held for the eighth time in
Wanaka on Saturday - attracted a record number of athletes
and spectators, which race director Victoria Murray-Orr says
is likely to translate into considerable economic benefits
for the resort.
• Slideshow: Challenge Wanaka
The event usually takes place on the third weekend in January
but Ms Murray-Orr said next year it would be held on Sunday,
February 22. After consulting stakeholders and athletes,
organisers made the decision to change,
to give athletes more time with their families over Christmas
and New Year, to gain additional economic benefit in a
quieter tourism season and to take advantage of generally
more settled weather.
''By moving the race to February, we can take advantage of
probably the best weather month in the Southern Alps and give
athletes a more relaxed Christmas,'' she said.
''We're always trying to grow the event to benefit the local
economy and hope to attract even more triathletes from all
over the world next year for what is increasingly recognised
as a must-do race amongst the sport's global community.''
Moving to a Sunday would still allow satellite events like
the Puzzling World Junior Challenge Wanaka to take place the
day before, as race weekend would no longer lie within school
More than 500 youngsters aged between 6 and 15 raced in this
year's junior triathlon, held on Friday.
While it was too early to provide any formal analysis on the
economic impact of the weekend's event, early indications
were the triathlon's success had been shared by local
businesses, such as motels and backpackers in the town, which
were all booked out, Ms Murray-Orr said.
More than 1500 athletes competed from dawn until after dark
on Saturday, with thousands of supporters cheering them on.
Lakefront bars and restaurants were packed. An
independently-audited athlete survey of the 2012 Challenge
Wanaka event indicated it brought at least $6.3 million worth
of direct economic benefit to the region.