Challenge Wanaka's elite female field has been decimated
by the late withdrawal of its three best triathletes, including
its top New Zealand competitor - three-time defending champion
Cantabrian Crawford, who has made the long-distance event her
own, will not compete because she is expecting her first
child in July.
Crawford said she was upset about being unable to compete in
one of her favourite events and hoped to be back competing in
Wanaka by 2012.
Her disappointment at being unable to add a fourth straight
title was tempered by the excitement of having a baby.
"My husband and I are overjoyed to be expecting a new
addition to our family and I am greatly looking forward to
this next chapter of my life," she said.
Top Australian contenders Rebekah Keat and Jodie Scott have
Keat, a former World No 2 in the sport who came second in the
Challenge Wanaka last year, has cited burn-out as a reason
for not travelling to contest this year's event, while Scott
is out injured.
Challenge Wanaka event director Victoria Murray-Orr said the
three withdrawals were frustrating, but, as with any sporting
code, "injuries and pregnancy are outside your control".
The withdrawals mean the elite female field will feature a
sole professional triathlete, Joanna Carrit, of the United
Kingdom, who will be guaranteed a winner's cheque by
completing the event.
Crawford's withdrawal deprives Challenge Wanaka of its
most-recognised individual triathlete and leaves Hamilton
competitor Keegan Williams as the top Kiwi contender.
2010 men's champion Richard Ussher will not defend his title,
having opted instead to compete in the teams event, alongside
swimmer Aaron Barclay, of Gore - the world junior Olympic
triathlon gold medallist - and Dunedin runner and New Zealand
woman's marathon champion Shireen Crumpton.
Williams, who has finished second and third in the event
during the past two years, will carry local hopes in the
He will be joined by fellow Kiwi triathletes Jamie Whyte and
Bevan McKinnon, both of Auckland.
The elite male field of the Challenge Wanaka is the largest
in the event's five-year history and includes 14 professional
triathletes, Ms Murray-Orr said.