Athletes react to race cut

Pictured: Dougal Allan crossing the finish line to win the 2016 Challenge Wanaka full distance race. Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Dougal Allan and Laura Siddall are names synonymous with the Challenge Wanaka full distance event, with both triathletes featuring on the podium multiple times in the last few years.

They both reacted with sadness at the news that the race, a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km run, will be cut from the programme in 2019 after a steady decline in entry numbers.

Dougal is a professional endurance athlete who has won his hometown race twice and set a new overall course record in the full distance in 2017.

“I believe the full distance event was world-renowned as one of the hardest and most scenic triathlons on the planet,” he said.

“It suited my strengths and I felt I could take on anyone on this course. However, I have to trust in the people who make these decisions and hope they are made with the best interests of the event and the town in mind.

“We saw a very exciting pro race over the half distance this year and the event as a whole seemed well-supported. I just hope it continues into the future.”

Laura Siddall, a British triathlete living in Christchurch, echoed his sentiments.

“I'm incredibly sad and disappointed to see the full distance having been dropped. Challenge Wanaka full is world-renowned and iconic in the beauty and nature of the course. It's been voted the most scenic triathlon in the world.

“It's also the second oldest race in the Challenge Family portfolio, so has a huge amount of history and prestige as the event has been built up over the years.”

Having placed second in the full distance event three times since 2015, she would have liked the opportunity to compete one last time, but she paid tribute to the community and its “incredible” volunteers.

“Wanaka is an amazing place. I love returning every year and catching up again with friendly faces and all the locals who I've got to know over the years. I've stayed with some fantastic homestays over my four years of racing.”

Both athletes may still line up the Challenge Wanaka half distance event next year, but only as a training exercise as they focus on other events.

“The Coast to Coast and Ironman NZ are two events that are likely to become my focus in the next couple of years,” Dougal said.

“I hope to still race Challenge Wanaka Half because I love the event, but it will very much become a supplementary race in my preparation of other events.”

Pictured: Dougal Allan crossing the finish line to win the 2016 Challenge Wanaka full distance race.

RELATED: End of Challenge Wanaka full distance race   Posted: 11 Apr, 2018

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