Christchurch's Dylan McNeice has defended his Challenge Wanaka title this aftternoon despite a stern examination by former winner and course record holder Richard Ussher.
McNeice becomes the first male competitor to go back-to-back in the long distance triathlon, which was held in cool, overcast conditions in Central Otago today.
McNeice set a new course record for the 3.9km swim, emerging from Lake Wanaka more than four minutes ahead of his rivals.
He extended that lead to more than seven minutes during the 180km bike leg and managed to fend off the challenge of Ussher over the 42.2km run to bank his third iron-distance title in a time of 8hr 38min 48sec.
Ussher suffered a bad stretch late in the run to finish just over 11 minutes behind, with fellow multisporter and Wanaka local Dougal Allan finishing a further five minutes in arrears in his long distance triathlon debut.
Cambridge's Candice Hammond turned the tables on five-time winner Gina Crawford, forcing her rival into second place after finishing runner-up to her last year.
Hammond overtook Crawford late in the bike section and then managed to hold her advantage through the run.
Wanaka local Simone Maier was third.
Auckland triathlon coach Bevan McKinnon won the Lake Wanaka Half men's race, with fellow Aucklander Larisa Marsh taking out the women's race.
Marsh was originally in the elite women's field but had to drop down to the 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21km run after injury a thumb during training.
Former Olympic road cyclist Robin Reid was the first age group competitor home in the full distance event.
Elite men: Dylan McNeice 8:38:48 1; Richard Ussher 8:49:49 2; Dougal Allan 8:54:37 3.
Elite women: Candice Hammond (9:33:54 1; Gina Crawford 9:41:08 2; Simone Maier 9:48:50 3.
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