The 2017 season literally just ended, there were exactly zero races on the 2018 schedule, and I was enjoying some down time right up until I met Lindsay and Jess Dymond for a glass of wine a few days before the New Year's Day holiday. These two crazy kids were going on a vacation to Wanaka, NZ and planned to race Challenge Wanaka (along with several other races). Funny how that works! Jess showed me picture after picture of this magical place everyone talks about and, thanks to her persistence, a plan was in place by mid-January. Okay, twist my arm...back to New Zealand!
Wanaka absolutely lived up to its reputation of being the world's most scenic triathlon. I could try to put it into words or show you a bunch of pictures but neither would do it any justice. You have to go see for yourself.
Lets start with the Junior Challenge Wanaka held the day before the middle distance (half distance) race. Wanaka puts on the world's largest youth race allowing triathletes from ages 5-12 to take a shot at a smaller version of the course. I have never seen so many youth bikes racked in transition! Even more impressive than the sheer numbers and sprint finishes, these young bundles of energy raced through relentless wind gusts making even the more experienced athletes nervous.
Lucky for us, the wind calmed down on race day and the swim went off in 18C water under a layer of clouds. The lake temperature was considered "warm" this year for those of you thinking about making the journey to Wanaka in the future! Trust me, I'm never going to complain about unseasonably warm water temperatures when the norm is someplace around 14C.
Sometime during the swim cloud cover turned into drizzling rain and that turned into pouring rain which continued for the entire 90+km ride. Yes, Wanaka is beautiful rain or shine but man was I cold, totally numb, and completely soaked. I knew I was really cold when I needed both hands to press one di2 button to shift the small chain ring. Yup, I was really that cold which shouldn't surprise anyone who knows me! The ride ended up being a bit of a solo effort but a beautiful tour of the area passing lakes, riding over over well known bridges, and rolling through very cute towns.
If shifting wasn't hard enough, getting my helmet unclipped and shoes on in T2 proved to be quite the challenge! After some fumbling I managed to get everything sorted out and it was time to run. The run course took us on trails along Lake Wanaka and an adjoining river. The course is defiantly best suited for trail runners but I managed, ticked off my longest trail run, and walked away with a 4th place finish very early in the 2018 season.
Wanaka, another destination checked off the list and a place I will without a doubt return to in the future (after some more trail running experience)! To Lindsay and Jess, thank you for including me in your hiking, wine tasting, cookie making, exploring, and racing adventures. It will be a trip I never forget! To Challenge Family, thank you for having me and I can't wait to continue to race on the circuit this season! To Cindy, a massive thank you for putting together a doTERRA essential oils plan to keep me healthy while traveling and racing. To my family and the people who believe in me (i.e. put up with me) and my desire to race in new places, thank you for making this race happen short notice. Last but not least, to Epix Gear, Infinit Nutrition, blueseventy, Body by Juliet, Hawaii Sports Chiropractic, and Waikiki Brewing Co, thank you for making this all possible!
Back to work and then on to the next adventure!