Macca for Challenge Wanaka
An all-star field headed by two-time world champion and 12-times iron-distance champion Chris 'Macca' McCormack will compete at Challenge Wanaka in January.
Widely regarded as the sport's most successful triathlete, McCormack has won more than 200 international races since 1993 across a range of distances and is the only athlete to break the magic eight-hour iron-distance barrier more than twice (he has broken it four times).
As well as being two-times World Champion at Kona, he is the current ITU Long Distance World Champion and has also claimed the ITU World Series Championship title over the Olympic distance, again, the only athlete to hold both distance world titles.
"I'm heading to Wanaka for a win and a new course record," McCormack said.
Defending champion, and fellow Australian, Aaron Farlow, is returning with the goal to retain his title while 2011 champion and Southlander Jamie Whyte is also aiming to get back on top of the podium. Other contenders include former duathlon world champion, Leon Griffin (Australia) as well as Kiwis Keegan Williams and Bryan Rhodes.
The top spot is the only place that has eluded Williams at Wanaka following a third in 2010 and second in 2009 while four times iron distance champion Rhodes will be looking to make up for a disappointing failure to finish in 2012 following three punctures.
The women's field is once again dominated by four-time winner of Challenge Wanaka and 10-times iron distance champion Gina Crawford.
The road to a sixth victory will have to break through the defences of Australia's Kate Bevilaqua, Kim Loeffler (United States) and New Zealand's Candice Hammond.
Bevilaqua holds two iron distance titles while Hammond comes off her best career result to date - a win at Metaman Bintan in September.
Loeffler is hoping to break her 'bridesmaid' resume - she has placed on the podium no less than seven times and holds the run course record at Ironman Brazil but the top spot has so far eluded her.
Crawford is racing off the back of her recent success at the Ironman World Championships where she placed seventh and is returning to Wanaka for the fifth time.
Originally from Christchurch, her time racing and training in Lake Wanaka has led to a love of the region that has resulted in her and her family making it their home.
"I just love racing Challenge Wanaka with the scenic and challenging course and am especially looking forward to the changed bike course this year with the double loop encompassing the best parts of the former course. I am excited to be coming back and will be working hard in the coming months in an attempt to take my fifth title," said Crawford.
Challenge Wanaka takes place on January 19.