A host of competitive Queenstowners are preparing to bust a gut in the 2017 Red Bull Defiance.
Super-fit couple Jono Hall and Natalie Jakobs, experienced racers Mike Kelly and Duncan Milne, and new team Josie Cederman and Alex Nichol all race as elite teams this weekend.
They aim to complete a 71km mountain bike, 39km run, 40km kayak and 60m abseil over two days in Wanaka – a vertical climb of more than 5000 metres.
There’s also a special stage of clay pigeon shooting.
Cederman, 41, returns to multisporting after about five years off to have children.
She’s posted some impressive results in the past, including seventh in the open women’s two-day Coast to Coast and winning Central Otago’s Gold Rush.
She’s joined by elite 24hr mountain bike racer and white water kayaker Nichol, 31.
“It’ll be a really big challenge for sure,” Cederman says.
“The last run looks hard [a 28km, 1848m ascent] and our legs will be tired by then.
“But we’re really excited and looking forward to the event.”
Cederman says they’re unlikely to beat the two top female teams, which include last year’s winners, but where they place in the pack depends on how strong the other teams are.
Ironman triathletes Paul Preston and Adam Wilson, the latter of whom placed 181st of more than 2300 competitors at the Ironman World Champs in Hawaii in October, race together as amateurs.
Wilson, 34, says of Preston: “He’s convinced me to do it.
“It’ll be a different challenge. Firstly, with triathlons, the day after I can put my feet up, have a beer and a rest, but we’ll be back out there.
“Second, we’ve only had one session in the kayak together. But at least I know if I fall out I can swim pretty well.”
Wilson’s had a few months’ R&R after Hawaii but plans to also compete in next month’s Challenge Wanaka.
He says they’re racing for the experience but will still go hard.
“We’re both pretty competitive characters so we’ll try to beat other teams, but you’ve got to be realistic – there are some experienced teams racing.”
Other amateur Queenstown teams include Regan Pearce and James Cavanagh, and Beatriz Gonzalez Garcia and Lasse Weissmann.
In all, 22 elite teams and 44 amateur teams will complete on the course, designed by Wanaka multisport legend Braden Currie – who’s racing with US athlete Josiah Middaugh.
Queenstown mountain bike star Kate Fluker and veteran multi-sporter Mark Williams compete in sub-event Minaret Burn as they prepare for next month’s Pioneer race.
Thriller competitor Selina Turner’s running the 28km Skyline Traverse.