Currie, Wells prevail at Wanaka Half

New Zealanders Braden Currie and Hannah Wells won it on the run to take the elite titles at the Challenge Wanaka half distance.

For many years, Challenge Wanaka was a full Iron distance race but in 2018 organizers cut it to a half.

Currie overcame a 2 and one half minute deficit after the bike leg with a 2nd-best 1:16:27 half marathon to overtake cycling powerhouse Andrew Starykowicz of the U.S. Currie, 5th place finisher at the Ironman World Championship last October, finished in 4:00:00 with a 2:45 margin of victory over Starykowicz and 4:22 over 3rd place finisher Matt Burton of Australia.

Wells overcame a 1:27 deficit to Australian Kerry Morris after the bike leg with a women’s-best 1:24:41 run split to finish in 4:31:11 with a 1:08 margin of victory over Meredith Kessler of the U.S. and 5:26 over 3rd place finisher Laura Siddall of Great Britain.


Dylan McNeice led the pro men’s swim with a 23:47 split that gave him 1:03 lead on Currie, 1:57 on Starykowicz, 2:01 on Jack Moody and 2:09 on Burton.

By 25 km of the bike leg, Starykowicz blasted into a 21 seconds lead on Currie and 25 seconds on McNeice. After a race-best 2:11:51 bike split, Starykowicz opened a 2:33 lead on Burton (2:13:52 bike split), 3:10 on Currie (2:15:53 split) and McNeice more than 8 minutes arrears.

Fleet footed Currie quickly took charge on the run. By 8km, he trimmed Starky’s lead to 21 seconds and after a second-best 1:16:27 run split he finished in 4:00:00 with a 2:45 margin on Starykowicz and 4:22 over Burton. By virtue of a race-best 1:15:40 run, Jack Moody of New Zealand made up for a tardy 2:21:17 bike split to finish 4th.

Currie favored a new drafting rule that put the legal distance between riders at 20 meters – and gave Starykowicz an initial advantage.

"It makes it really fair, especially today where I could have probably hung onto Starky with the old 12-metre draft rule for quite a long time,” Currie told Fuseworks Media. “With that 20 meter gap, it just split us up straight away and it was each to his own… I was happy with my swim and then on the ride I was expecting Starky to go past at about 100 miles an hour and he did. That happened quite early on, which definitely worried me a little bit. But then in the second half of the bike, where I thought he would make some big gains, he didn’t make any. That’s a good sign and positive for my bike leg going forward."


Meredith Kessler led the pro women’s swim wave with a 25:47 mark that gave her a 1:22 lead on New Zealand’s Kerry Morris, 1:27 on Wells and 4:07 on Laura Siddall of Great Britain.

Morrison made up the gap and rode for a while with Kessler. After a women’s-best 2:35:36 bike split, Morris led into T2 with a 24 seconds on Kessler and 52 seconds on Wells.

After 2 kilometers, Morris, Kessler and Wells shared the lead, whereupon Morris fell back. After 16 km, Wells gapped Kessler and, after a women’s-best 1:24:41 run, Wells finished in 4:31:11 with a 1:08 margin of victory on Kessler (1:25:56 run split) and 5:26 on 3rd-place Siddall (1:27:22 run), pushing Morris (1:33:01 run) to 4th.

Challenge Wanaka Half
Wanaka, Otego, New Zealand
February 16, 2018
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.



1. Braden Currie (NZL) 4:00:00 S 24:50 T1 1:26 B 2:15:53 T2 1:22 R 1:16:27
2. Andrew Starykowicz (USA) 4:02:45 S 25:44 T1 1:24 B 2:11:51 T2 1:57 R 1:21:47
3. Matt Burton (AUS) 4:04:22 S 25:56 T1 1:44 B 2:13:52 T2 1:50 R 1:20:57
4. Jack Moody (NZL) 4:05:41 S 25:48 T1 1:27 B 2:21:17 T2 1:27 R 1:15:40
5. Dylan McNeice (NZL) 4:13:19 S 23:47 T1 1:20 B 2:21:53 T2 1:28 R 1:24:49


1. Hannah Wells (NZL) 4:31:11 S 27:15 T1 1:31 B 2:36:12 T2 1:30 R 1:24:41
2. Meredith Kessler (USA) 4:32:19 S 25:47 T1 2:15 B 2:36:27 T2 1:51 R 1:25:56
3. Laura Siddall (GBR) 4:36:37 S 29:54 T1 1:35 B 2:36:07 T2 1:37 R 1:27:22
4. Kerry Morris (AUS) 4:38:49 S 27:10 T1 1:20 B 2:35:36 T2 1:40 R 1:33:01
5. Julia Grant (NZL) 5:02:11 S 30:01 T1 1:35 B 2:50:24 T2 1:55 R 1:38:14