Challenge Wanaka

The main event of our trip to New Zealand was the Challenge Wanaka Triathlon.  Phil was signed up for the full distance and we somehow convinced our friend Anita to do her first half distance there.  The day before the race was filled with jitters and preparation.  They checked in and got their race bags, which they spent hours filling with their swim, bike, and run gear.  Each race has their own set of rules of what is required, and we discovered at 5:30 that evening that this race required a torch (head lamp) and reflective tape.  So we made a quick trip to the hardware store right before they closed and found them.  Much to my amazement, New Zealand makes Australia look inexpensive.  The little roll of reflective tape cost $40!  But now that they were all set, it was time for an early night in preparation for the early morning.
Anita and Phil the day before the race
Preparing race bags
The race started at 7 am, but check in closed at 6 so we had to get up at 4:30.  The one benefit of such an early start was we got to see a beautiful sunrise over the lake and snow capped mountains.  Apparently Wanaka had a very late summer snow recently.  I'm not sure these two were thinking about the view though!
Anita looks rather terrified!  Not sure if it's Phil or the race!
Soon enough it was time for Phil to get in the water.  He put his goggles on, and they promptly snapped in two.  So he quickly grabbed Anita's goggles and started the swim.
Phil's swim start
We had 90 minutes until Anita's start, so our friends back at the house hurried over with Phil's extra set of goggles.  Anita put them on and started off on her race adventure.  Crisis averted.
Phil in the red cap
Phil in the red cap
It's pretty hard to tell who's who when they're all wearing black wetsuits and matching caps, but finally I saw Phil headed towards land.  It's always a great relief to see him finish the swim, to know that he didn't drown!
Phil finishing the swim
Little did I know this is where things were going to take a turn...

He started off on the bike looking good.
Phil starting the bike leg
Meanwhile, Anita was just finishing her swim leg.  We cheered her on as she finished up and started on the bike leg.
Anita near the swim finish
Anita is one of those pink caps - I swear!
The race had an athlete tracker, so I kept checking their bike times on my phone.  After awhile, I noticed that Anita had two bike times showing and Phil had none.  We hadn't seen either of them for awhile, so I decided to go for a walk and just make sure his bike wasn't back in transition.  I got to transition and saw a bike in the general area I knew he was set up, so kept walking to check what kind it was.  BMC.  Great.  That's the kind of bike he has.  So then I started looking around for a race volunteer to figure out where people go if they pull out.  But then I walked by the medical tent and saw Phil laying down on a bed. 

Turns out just after the swim he tripped, fell, and hit his head.  A few kms into the bike he started seeing stars and stopped at a medical checkpoint.  They gave him the pen test and his eyes crossed, so they took him back in an ambulance and had him lay down for awhile.  And that's where I found him.  Luckily it wasn't his first full distance so he wasn't out to prove to himself that he could finish.  He was disappointed, but he was also still pretty out of it from the knock.

Meanwhile, Anita powered on and road by on her bike.  After struggling to find her for several hours, it was a relief to see her finish that leg.
Anita finishing the bike leg
She started off on the run, two legs down and ready to be done.
Anita starting the half marathon
We took a break from watching at that point to grab some lunch.  Phil was pretty beat up, and not even a beer seemed to do the trick.
Consolation beer
Finally, it was almost time for Anita to finish so we grabbed some ice cream and went to the finish line.
Anita's cheering section
We saw her come running in, and could tell by the fist pump that she was happy to be finishing.
Fist pump finish
Fist pump finish
It was great to watch her achieve that goal.  We knew she could do it, that's why we had encouraged her from the beginning.  But she knew it was going to be a struggle and felt it every step of that run.  But she did it.  Because that girl is awesome :)
Anita and her crew
Showing off her awesome finisher medal
When we got back that night, Phil took off his sock and found that he had hit his toe pretty good.  It was black and red, swollen, and very angry.  No wonder he fell.  Fortunately he knew when to stop and didn't push it further.
And meanwhile, we have a good excuse to go back for another race!


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