Top triathletes gather
Stars of the big screen will feature along the waterfront tonight as the Challenge Wanaka Triathlon Festival, which has attracted the largest field on record, starts with a movie-themed fun run.
The Radio Wanaka 5km Charity Fun Run will open the festival in a laid-back style with runners taking an easy lakefront course towards Waterfall Creek through Rippon Vineyard, Edgewater Resort and Wanaka Station Park.
Participants are encouraged to dress up as their favourite movie character.
But the serious side of the event is on Saturday.
The full event has attracted some of the world's best professional
triathletes including defending champions Dylan McNeice, of Christchurch, and 11-time long distance champion Gina Crawford, of Wanaka.
Joining them are course record holder and multisport world champion Richard Ussher, of Nelson, leading Australians Carrie Lester, Matty White and Courtney Ogden, Scott DeFilippis of the United States, plus Wanaka hopefuls Simone Maier, Dougal Allan and Ben Logan.
United States long-distance legend and 1988 world champion Scott Molina has signed up for the Lake Wanaka Half along side New Zealand's Jenny Rose, 1994 ITU World Champion, and Wanaka's Nicky Samuels, the 2013 XTERRA world champion.
Hundreds of other competitors aged 13 to 80 will take on the 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run that coincides with the full-distance Challenge Wanaka race - 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run - on the same day.
Race director Victoria Murray-Orr said the half would continue to attract athletes of all abilities because of its accessible distance and stunning setting.
"Any half-distance triathlon is still an enormous challenge for individuals and teams, and Lake Wanaka's tough but beautiful terrain makes finishing this race an awesome achievement.
"Attracting elite athletes like Scott, Jenny and Nicky as well as ‘weekend warriors' competing for fun or to raise money for charity means there's a great mix of people which only adds to the amazing atmosphere on race day," she said.
More than 2000 athletes will compete in the sport celebration, the largest number in the event's eight years with the main event part of the global series of triathlons.
The circuit features 22 races in 14 countries, including the world's largest long distance triathlon, Challenge Roth in Germany.
Friday will see the Puzzling World Junior Challenge Wanaka and Sport Central 3:9:3. Registrations can be made on the day.
Registration for the fun run will take place at the Meadowstone corner of Lake Wanaka from 5.30pm.
Funds raised from the event will go to Cystic Fibrosis New Zealand, Challenge Wanaka's official charity.
Satellite event manager Iona Sanders said "whether you're young, not-so-young or somewhere in between, these events are designed to be accessible and fun."
With 2000 athletes descending on Wanaka for the Challenge Wanaka event this Saturday, Harbourmaster Marty Black has some safety advice for swimmers training in the lake this week.
● Swim on the south side of Roy Bay.
● If you need to swim in the middle of the lake, have a safety kayak with you or swim in a group.
● Be visible – wear a brightly coloured swimming cap or use a fluoro visibility device.
Mr Black said boaties should also be aware that there will be more swimmers than usual in the lake and keep a sharp lookout at all times, particularly in choppy conditions that could make it difficult to spot a lone swimmer.