Major buildup for Coast to Coast looms
Three Southland triathlon titles will be decided at tomorrow's Summer Challenge in Gore.
The Coast to Coast buildup, sprint triathlon and junior triathlon for under-16 competitors double as Southland championships.
The main focus for many, though, will be the 76.5km Challenge event, which provides an ideal buildup for those who will be racing in Challenge Wanaka in January.
About 120 entries were received during the week for the various events, which also includes a duathlon option.
Southland triathlon and multisport club life member Ginge Burnett said the Summer Challenge, which is also part of the five-event Premium Triathlon Series, gave triathletes in the south their only real chance to experience race conditions at this time of the year.
"When we started the race, we used to run at the end of January. Since Challenge Wanaka came into play, we found by moving this race to December, people use it as a leadup race.
"Our course has got a couple of hills in it, which is great training for Wanaka, and we changed our run last year to have a bit more off-road farm track stuff to align a little bit with the Wanaka course."
Burnett said the club continued to see a move away from the multisport events involving a kayak section, to varying distances of triathlon.
Time was a big factor in that, he said.
"There's a lot of people taking up the challenge of doing a half or a full ironman [distance triathlon]. It's a bit of a trend at the moment," Burnett said.
"Our club used to be really strong on the multisport side of it but it's swung around a lot.
"One of the big things with training for the kayak, by the time you drive out to a river, go for a paddle and get back - you can go to the swimming pool at 5am and you aren't using up much of your valuable time.
"One of the other appealing things is that you don't have to have a support crew [in triathlon], it's just a little bit more simpler."
Burnett said the swing would probably one day head back towards multisport racing, but the advent of the iron-distance Challenge Wanaka event in mid-January had changed the local landscape.
"That weekend in Wanaka is awesome. There's a race there for everybody. It's been a big shot in the arm for triathlon in the south because [previously] all the big events were in the North Island.
"For people looking for that extra challenge, it's nice and handy and if you've got a mate racing in Wanaka, any excuse to go up to Central is a good one."
The longest of the Summer Challenge events, the 76.5km race, starts at 9.30am at the old gravel pit on the northern outskirts of Gore, with the transition area at Croydon Lodge.
In other news, Dolamore Park, near Gore, will be the base for the South Island secondary schools' adventure racing championships in March, while Central Otago will host the New Zealand secondary schools' championship in April.
76.5km Challenge. Registrations 8.30am, starts 9.30am Coast to Coast buildup. Starts 10am Sprint triathlon. Starts 11am Junior event (under 16). Starts 11.15am Duathlon. Starts 11.30am
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