Ferguson breaks own record for Wanaka triathlon

Canterbury multisport athlete Gina Ferguson was untroubled to win the third challenge Wanaka long-distance triathlon and led all the way to break her own course record by some five minutes and finish in 9h 28min 27s on Saturday.

"The swim was hard," she said at the finish. "I had a great ride."

She left the lake with the top male swimmers in 54.34, then set a new bike course record of 5.14, breaking the 2007 mark set by Aussie Belinda Granger.

Ferguson said she struggled from 20km to 30km on the run then came right.

Wanaka's Merryn Johnston, fourth in the event last year in her professional debut, improved to second in 10.03.56. Third spot went to American Hillary Biscay, who was second in the Wanaka event last year, in 10.16.39.

Challenge Wanaka is part of the global TEAMChallenge series that features six events in France, Germany and Spain, as well as New Zealand. Now in its third year, it drew more than 470 athletes from 21 countries for a week-long festival of sport that also included short-distance events in the Contract Tri Series on Friday evening.

Another course record was set when Australian Chris McDonald powered home to win the men's event nearly seven minutes clear of New Zealander Keegan Williams.

Czech Petr Vabrousek rounded out the podium just 30sec in arrears in what turned out to be a close-fought battle on the run.

The race covers 3.8km of swimming, 180km of cycling and a marathon run on a scenic course through the Southern Lakes region and along the Clutha River.