Local favorite Dougal Allan ran down German Maik Twelsiek to capture the 2016 Challenge Wanaka in 8:31:53. Dutch Yvonne van Vlerken hung tough to grab the women's title on a day that challenged athletes with a variety of conditions. The swim course was shortened due to high winds.
Dylan McNeice was first out of the water and then held on to the lead until halfway through the bike, when German Maik Twelsiek stormed past him. Dougal Allan also moved past McNeice, but needed another 40k to do so.
During the run Allan reeled in Twelsiek and endured a hard rain shower on the way to his big win.
“You wait for this moment all your life and when it actually happens it stuns you. I’m a bit lost for words,” said Allan. “The bike last year was my strength but this year I wanted to connect a good swim and a consistent run. I didn’t feel the best on the bike but I got the swim and bike I hoped for. I backed myself to catch Maik and you can never write off Dylan. It was a tough race and anyone who gets to the finish today probably deserves a beer!”
Maik Twelsiek finished second in 8:40:48 and Matt Russell moved past McNeice during the run to take the final podium spot in 8:42:53.
The women's race saw several of the favorites pull out during the bike segment and that made the race interesting.
Anna Cleaver was first out of the water as expected, but Laura Siddall, Gina Crawford and Yvonne van Vlerken were right with her.
Initially van Vlerken took charge during the bike segment but Siddall took over the lead late and reached T2 first. Defending champion Crawford, Simone Maier and Alyssa Godesky all pulled out and that left the pro field rather thin, and only Siddall and van Vlerken were left standing to fight for the top spot.
During the run van Vlerken ran down Siddall to move back to the front of the race and captured the win in 9:26:50.
“I didn’t expect to win, I think it was a mental thing rather than my physical shape as I was not as fit as I should be,” said van Vlerken. “I had the most amazing swim. Anna Cleaver who’s an incredible swimmer was really surprised to see me next to her in the change tent! I don’t know how I did it as I was scared of those waves! I was suffering on the bike because when you haven’t trained much, you suffer on that leg. This was my 31st long distance race so I knew I’d be OK on the run and I was!”
Siddall finished second in 9:30:19 and age grouper Meredith Hill was 3rd in 10:34:21.
Wanaka, New Zealand / February 20th, 2016
1. Dougal Allan (NZL) 8:31:53
2. Maik Twelsiek (GER) 8:40:48
3. Matt Russell (USA) 8:42:53
4. Dylan McNeice (NZL) 9:10:29
5. Per Bittner (GER) 9:11:37
1. Yvonne van Vlerken (NED) 9:26:50
2. Laura Siddall (GBR) 9:30:19
3. Meredith Hill (AUS) 10:34:21 * AG F30-39
4. Julia Grant (NZL) 10:39:42
5. April Gellatly (USA) 10:55:05