World champions Scott Molina, Jenny Rose and Nicky Samuels are among a record 1200-strong field contesting the Lake Wanaka Half, which runs alongside the Challenge Wanaka iron-distance event on January 18.
Molina won the Triathlon World Championships in Kona, Hawaii in 1988.
Now resident in Christchurch with his wife Erin Baker - herself a former New Zealand professional triathlete and world champion - Molina will be hard to beat in the 50-54 age group category.
Takaka-born Rose was a professional triathlete from 1989-2000 and now runs a coaching business in Wellington.
In 1994 she took the ITU Triathlon World Series title after winning three races. During her career she was also ITU world long-distance champion, French and Dutch National Triathlon Series champion, holder of all TriNZ triathlon titles and was twice nominated for Halberg NZ Sportswoman of the Year.
Wanaka's Nicky Samuels won last year's Xterra World Championship held in Maui, Hawaii - widely regarded as the world's premier off-road triathlon.
Samuels, who represented New Zealand at the London Olympics, has raced in previous Lake Wanaka Half team events and this year swims for "Mrs Fubar".
Former New Zealand women's hammer champion Raylene Bates is on the bike leg and their runner is yet to be named.
- The Southland Times