Wilde taking on under-19s for charity

Six Olympians will be among 40 top triathletes duking it out in the Twilight Challenge sprint street race in Wanaka on February 18.

In a gutsy move, Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Hayden Wilde will give the under-19s a head start then try to catch them.

If he and his elite team-mates can chase the teens down and beat them, Wilde will win $4000 to donate to his favourite charity, the Rotorua Mountainbike Club first response unit, based at Whakarewarewa Forest.

The Twilight Challenge is the final race of the Triathlon NZ elite series and is also part of the Challenge Wanaka festival.

It will involve 25 men and 15 women sprinting their legs off for overall series glory as well as bidding for selection for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in July.

Wilde’s Tokyo team-mates, Nicole van der Kaay, Ainsley Thorpe and Tayler Reid, are in the chase bunch.

Simone Ackermann, who raced for South Africa in Tokyo and Beijing, and London and Rio Olympian Andrea Hewitt, will also be in the hunt.

Wilde’s move rekindles a torch lit by Rio Olympian Tony Dodds, of Wanaka, from 2011 to 2013.

Dodds invited his international triathlon friends to beat him on his home ground in a charity race.

The event was held for three years before Dodds finally beat his French mate, the late Laurent Vidal, to win the $10,000 prize for cystic fibrosis in 2013.

The Doddsy Challenge has been in hiatus since then and Dodds, the Challenge Wanaka showcase manager, will be watching how the Wilde version of the race unfolds.

"We are very excited to bring racing back into the centre of town on a Friday night and the Doddsy Challenge concept with Hayden Wilde," Dodds said.

‘‘We expect to see crowds come along to watch, cheer and spend some time down in our local bars and restaurants along the race course."

The elite athletes have a 750m swim, 15km bike course through town and a 5km run along the lakefront to the finish in Ardmore St.

The women’s race starts at 5.30pm and the men’s at 7pm.

The Twilight Challenge warm-up will be a mini race for under-5s organised by Sport Otago, using its stride-ride-slide format, at Pembroke Park.

The Challenge Wanaka Half is on February 19, based at Glendhu Bay.

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