Home-town hero wins Challenge

Radka Kahlefeldt, of the Czech Republic, is all smiles after winning the Challenge Wanaka women’s...
Radka Kahlefeldt, of the Czech Republic, is all smiles after winning the Challenge Wanaka women’s grade on Saturday.PHOTO: KERRIE WATERWORTH
Wanaka home-town favourite Braden Currie blitzed the course at the Challenge Wanaka at the weekend, winning the race for a second consecutive year.

In perfect weather and course conditions more than a thousand competitors, including some of the world’s best middle-distance athletes, competed in teams or as individuals in the 14th Challenge Wanaka event on Saturday.

Currie emerged from the 1.9km swim in Lake Wanaka in second place and was "nervous" after coming off the 90km cycle out towards Treble Cone and back through Lake Wanaka.

"It was a very hairy race, there was lots going on. Obviously, Mike [Phillips] and a few of the other guys rode really hard and I didn’t quite know if they were going to run well off that, or not."

Currie turned on the after-burners throughout the 21.1km run and overtook the early leaders, finishing the race in 3hr 59min 48sec, beating his nearest rival by nearly two minutes.

Matt Burdon, of Australia, finished second in 4hr 2min 37sec and Mike Phillips, of Christchurch, came in third with a time of 4hr 3min 31sec.

Currie said the support from the local community on the course was phenomenal.

"It’s amazing how many people I saw out there and people I know really well cheering me on."

Winning Challenge Wanaka was a good way to start the year and a bit of a warm up for the Ironman event in Taupo in three weeks, he said.

First across the line for the women was first-time entrant Radka Kahlefeldt, of the Czech Republic, who finished in 4hr 28min 11sec to beat the 2019 Challenge Wanaka champion Hannah Wells, of Bay of Plenty, who came second in 4hr 31min 30sec and Meredith Kessler, of the United States, who came third with a time of 4hr 36min 12sec.

Kahlefeldt described the race as "really tough" and said " you have to be strong".

She said the first 10km of the run went very quickly "because you have to watch where you put your feet every step, but sometimes if you have time you look at the beautiful river or the lake and it was awesome."

Kahlefeldt said the course was one of the most beautiful she had ever raced.

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