Couple bring their Challenge Wanaka baby to town
Many Wanaka people remember loyal Challenge Wanaka competitors Alyssa and Mark Smoothy – they were the mad Aussies who got married while racing the 2015 long distance triathlon.
They are back for Saturday's race, but this year they've bought their "Challenge Wanaka Baby".
Estelle Rae Smoothy was born on November 15, exactly nine months after Challenge Wanaka 2016 and her parents' first wedding anniversary – which they celebrated at Challenge Wanaka.
Her dad has raced every one of the 10 Challenge Wanaka events and lines up again for his 11th on Saturday, but her mum is sitting out the race – something she also did last year because of injury.
Estelle is the first child for Mark, 54, and Alyssa, 44.
Alyssa recalled the birth process took about as long as completing Challenge Wanaka.
She recalled looking at the clock at 10pm and saying the baby had better hurry up.
"I told her she had to make it before midnight or she would miss the fireworks."
Estelle Rae was born 28 minutes later and her dad joked that 10:28 was now his Challenge Wanaka goal – as in finishing by 10:28pm, not completing it in 10 hours and 28 minutes.
The couple finished their 2015 wedding race at 7.45pm, which included a 30 minute stop beside the lake to exchange vows.
"It is pretty cool to be a dad at 54," Mark said.
"We only met four years ago. Everything happened pretty quickly. But it had to."
Alyssa said when they realised they had conceived at Challenge Wanaka 2016, they nicknamed their growing baby "Kiwi" until Estelle was born three months ago.
They have no plans to make her do triathlons but Estelle has already starting swimming lessons.
Alyssa said she was happy to sit out the race this year again and support her triathlon-mad husband.
"I am looking for an excuse to not race next year too," she said.
"That would be cool," Mark said.
"Both of our families thought we would never have children."