Queenstowner Andrea Lowry first heard she’d won her Challenge Wanaka Ironman age-group division via her brother in Northern Ireland.
Lowry, 28, says she’d nipped into the massage tent when her brother – who’d followed last Saturday’s 1200-competitor triathlon on the internet – rang to say she’d won her 20-29 age-group category.
“I still can’t believe I won,” she says.
Lowry’s win – in 11hr 36 min and 20 sec – gained her free entry to Challenge Wanaka’s sister event in Germany, in July, which she’s keen to take up.
“I was planning going home to Ireland for a month in August anyway.”
Lowry’s only trained in multisport for 16 months, hadn’t run a marathon previously and was unplaced in Challenge Wanaka’s half-ironman a year ago.
The hospital nurse says one key to winning was taking on nutrition to keep her energy levels up, and rest days during training.
“I thought I could have done more training but my coach said, ‘No, stick to what I’ve given you’.”
Two other locals were also first in their half-ironman categories.
Brett Strachan won his 55-59 age group in 5:02.05sec – 16 minutes faster than his time a year ago, when he placed fourth.
“It’s good to see that the training’s been working,” he says.
The musician, 55, only took up the sport two years ago.
Arrowtowner Carole Shuttleworth, 36, ran the fastest women’s half-marathon of the day – 1:32.43sec – to help her half-ironman team win their competition. Shuttleworth, running with an upset stomach, teamed up with Christchurch sisters Ella and Melanie Vink.
Queenstown runner Chris Dagg, 44, was in the second-placed men’s ironman team despite a dodgy stomach also slowing his marathon time.
Local Adam Wilson, 28, failed by a second to run down the third placegetter in the half-ironman’s 25 to 29 age group.
“My target time was about five hours because I’d never done a half-ironman before so I was really stoked beating it by 17 minutes,” he says.
“I only hopped on a road bike about three months ago so it was a bit of a learning curve,” Wilson says.
Queenstowner Morne Pienaar, 35, competing in his sixth Challenge Wanaka and 10th full ironman, finished fourth in his 30-39 age group in 10:32.08sec.
Locals Liz Simpson, Lucas Fornes and Steve Robb finished fifth in the mixed half-ironman teams section.