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  • Writer's pictureSteve McKenna

Asia Pacific Champs 5th place - Challenge Wanaka 2020

Worth the trip!

It is early in the season for me and if I'm honest, it would have been smarter getting stuck into a longer/harder training block, rather than racing straight after a solid break, however, Challenge Wanaka only happens once a year and with that attitude I'll never see what it has to offer every February. It was well worth the trip!

Last year I raced multiple Challenge races taking me through Asia and South Africa and every location took my breath away. However, I have to say, in terms of scenery and backdrop, Wanaka is right up there with one of the most beautiful destinations I've ever raced, with clear blue lakes and big mountains different from anything I have experienced in Australia. Only a short three hour flight from Sydney or Melbourne, I would strongly advise anyone and everyone to do the same and indulge in a race trip/holiday in New Zealand's adventure capital.

Challenge Wanaka finish line backdrop

Unbelievable scenes at the race site, like everyone else it took me around 45 minutes to check my bike in.... too busy taking photos and admiring the views.


Clear blue water surrounded by mountains.... yas pls! This was the first swim in a while where I choked on water, accidentally taking a big gulp, and didn't have to worry about contracting some sort of disease. Instead, I simply assumed I was hydrating with the purest of H2O.


Unfortunately my legs weren't cooperating with me during the bike course, but as you can see in the picture below its hard to complain when you get to ride 90km on these roads.

Lake Hawea:

Just past the half way mark on the bike we approached Lake Hawea and thank god for this special part of the course. Opening my eyes to where I was and reminding me how lucky I am. Rather than feeling sorry for myself (or my shagged legs), I was able to appreciate being there, taking it all in and feeling alive. I said to myself "My legs aren't working.... good! It's better training, now finish this race as hard as you can and smile while you do what you love!".


Despite the legs having a lot less power than usual, in classic McKenna fashion I refused to believe they would be alseep for the entire 90km and I searched and searched for power, maintaining the face below.


The run was the winner! If you know me, you know that running is my happy place and although I was having a shocking race, I couldn't wipe the grin off my face as I ran on beautiful soft trails, alongside a bright blue flowing river. This picture of Laura Wood (NZ) is the best photo I could find along the river, but unfortunately it's bringing back my "post Wanaka blues".

Whats next:

April 5th - Challenge Shepparton (AUS)

April 26th - Challenge Cacun (MEX)

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