Wanaka’s triathletes have a new world podium to aspire to.
    The starting gun hasn’t even gone off for the first Challenge Wanaka Cross-Triathlon, but the race has already been selected as a qualifying event for the 2023 World Championship in Ibiza, the dance party capital of Spain.
    The inaugural Challenge Wanaka Cross-Triathlon will be held at Glendhu Bay on February 18 as part of the annual Challenge Wanaka Festival.
    Triathlon New Zealand has added the lake swim-mountainbike-trail run race to its national cross-tri-series, with the winner getting an opportunity to race overseas between April 29 and May 7.
    Challenge Wanaka race director Bill Roxburgh said the race should be ‘‘fantastic’’.
    “We know there are plenty of awesome mountain bikers in the area and this new addition to the festival allows them to get involved in this hugely popular event,” he said.
    Triathlon NZ community manager Mel Saltiel said Wanaka would host the cross-triathlon for two years.
    ‘‘This secures the event as the qualifying race for the world championships in Ibiza, Spain in 2023 and Townsville, Australia for the 2024 World Triathlon Championships,” she said.
    The race comprises a one-lap 1500m swim leg; a two-lap, 32km bike leg through the Bike Glendhu park; and a 10.5km trail run, also at Bike Glendhu.
    The Challenge Wanaka aquabike race on the same day will double as the Triathlon New Zealand mid-distance South Island championships, with points earned also going towards qualification for the Ibiza 2023 World Championships.
    The first overall male and female aquabike winner will receive the Garth Barfoot prize, of international flights and an accommodation subsidy.