Challenge Wanaka has reinvented its Friday night town race and it’s going to be a doddle for toddlers not for those racing Kiwi Olympic bronze medallist Hayden Wilde.
The Challenge Wanaka Festival has not included a Friday night on its programme since race central moved from the town centre (Pembroke Park) to the countryside (Glendhu Station) two years ago.
In past festivals, Friday was reserved for a sprint showdown between local and national triathletes.
Then Wanaka Olympian Tony Dodds racing his own by challenging his elite Kiwi team mates and international triathletes to beat him in a charity fundraiser.
Event organisers were encouraged to rethink the programme after receiving feedback from businesses that they had missed seeing spectators relaxing in bars and restaurants during the triathlon festival.
Race central remains at Glendhu Station but people will converge on town on Friday again for the new Challenge Mini for people aged 5 and under, before Wilde gets into action later in the evening.
Race director Bill Roxburgh said toddlers would slip down a special splashy slide, tackle an obstacle course and scooter or bike to the official Challenge Wanaka finish line.
“Parents are encouraged to join in and run alongside their children and we will have fun gifts at the end for our smallest competitors,” he said.
Straight after the Mini is a short 3-9-3 Sprint Triathlon in traditional swim-bike-run format, open to all people and abilities.
Wilde will then pit himself against the best of New Zealand’s high performance triathletes in the Twilight Challenge, the final race in Triathlon NZ’s elite race series.
Mr Roxburgh said the elite race should be a huge spectacle.
“We hope this will bring a real buzz to the community,” he said.
The Challenge Wanaka Sport Trust’s goal and purpose was to help people get active and support local businesses, he said.
New World Three Parks owner-operator Dean Bartley and Design Windows managing director John Hancock said they were looking forward to helping people set health and fitness goals, engage in community activities and actively volunteer.
Racing begins at 3.30pm on November 18.