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Challenge Wanaka Results 2024: Smith and Visser take home the titles

Kyle Smith and Els Visser clinched the crowns at Challenge Wanaka.

Staff Reporter
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The 2024 Challenge Family series got underway this weekend in New Zealand, as Wanaka hosted the first event of the season over the middle distance on the South Island.

On a challenging course, home favourite Kyle Smith managed to start his season with a win in the men’s race, whilst in the women’s Dutch pro Els Visser upgraded on her second place finish from last year.

In a heartwarming post-race interview, Visser dedicated the win to her close friend and fellow professional triathlete Luisa Baptista, who currently faces a long road to recovery after being hit by a car whilst out on her bike.

Smith dominates for another win on home soil

Having previously won in Wanaka back in 2021, Smith was one of the favourites coming into the race and did not disappoint, as he put in a commanding performance to win by a comfortable margin.

After coming out of the water with close to a minute lead, the 26-year-old put together a great bike split to ride away from top class cyclist Mike Phillips and extend his lead to +2:30 by the time he entered T2.

Despite the best efforts of Phillips and defending champion Jack Moody to close the gap to the PTO World #45, Smith was too strong, eventually winning by more than five minutes as he picked up his first title of 2024 ahead of Phillips in second and Moody in third.

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Visser goes one better than 2023

Having finished third last month at the Tauranga Half, Visser put together another podium performance in Wanaka to this time end up on the top step, as the 33-year-old produced a brilliant bike-run combo to take the tape.

els visser challange wanaka 2024
Els Visser takes at emotional win in Wanaka [Photo credit: Challenge Family]

After exiting the water almost five minutes down behind leader Rebecca Clarke, Visser quickly set to work on the bike, clawing back her significant deficit to draw level with the leaders at the 60km mark.

By the time she entered T2, the PTO World #36 had a two minute lead over Clarke and looked assured of victory, despite still having a hilly half marathon ahead of her.

Winning in the end by close to ten minutes, Visser finished in first ahead of Clarke, with Great Britain’s Laura Siddall clinching her first podium since being hit by a car last year with an excellent third place finish.

Challenge Wanaka, New Zealand – Saturday 17th February 2024
1.9km / 90km / 21.1km

PRO MEN

  • 1. Kyle Smith (NZL) – 3:53:08
  • 2. Mike Phillips (NZL) – 3:58:11
  • 3. Jack Moody (NZL) – 4:00:21

PRO WOMEN

  • 1. Els Visser (NED) – 4:34:46
  • 2. Rebecca Clarke (NZL) – 4:43:29
  • 3. Laura Siddall (GBR) – 4:44:22
Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.

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