Challenge Wanaka is ready for an all-star event, with confirmation that Spanish Olympian and 10-time world champion, Javier Gomez, will compete as an individual in the 113km triathlon.
The February 17 race is Triathlon New Zealand’s national long distance championship and will be the 2012 London Olympics silver medallist’s first individual race of 2018.
Earlier in January, Gomez participated in the Port of Tauranga Half in a team alongside his Kiwi partner, Anneke Jenkins, and physiotherapist Oscar Vincente Rodriguez.
Gomez had a stellar 2017, winning the 70.3 world championship and placing second in the ITU world championships.
He is also a possibility to compete in his first Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, in September.
The news comes on top of news that Wanaka’s Rio Olympian Tony Dodds, who is racing his first 113km triathlon on Saturday, has been added to the Commonwealth Games team to race in Australia in April.
Gomez is up against two former champions from Challenge Wanaka’s 226km course, Dougal Allan, of Wanaka, and Christchurch’s Dylan McNeice.
Also in the field is Wanaka’s Braden Currie, who set the 113km course record of 4:17:37 in 2012.
The 113km men’s race also features six-time Wildflower winner, Jesse Thomas (USA), the two “Aussie Lukes” – McKenzie and Bell – and the UK’s Joe Skipper.
The women’s national championship field also features a strong field of multiple long course champions, including Challenge Wanaka’s three-time runner up, Laura Siddall of the United Kingdom.
Siddall is hoping to take the top spot but must battle with Australian triathlon exponent Annabel Luxford, and defending New Zealand champion, Amelia Watkinson.
Kiwi Gina Crawford is also returning to Challenge Wanaka Half, after the birth of her second child.
The race provides qualification points to the ITU Long Distance World Championships in the half distance.
Those entered in the full 226km distance are racing for prestige. There is no professional field in this event this year.
The Challenge Wanaka Triathlon Festival opens on February 15 and is also hosting the Aquabike National Championships (3km swim 120km bike), the Otago Secondary Schools Triathlon Championships and the Junior Challenge Wanaka for primary school children.