Thomas heads to Challenge Wanaka

Jesse Thomas has added his name to the impressive field set to race at Challenge Wanaka next month.

| January 22, 2018 | NEWS

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

Another big name has been added to the impressive field set to race at Challenge Wanaka next month. American Jesse Thomas has joined the mix that includes defending champion Dougal Allan (NZL), three-time Wanaka champ Dylan McNeice (NZL), Australian's Luke McKenzie and Luke Bell, along with Kiwi Braden Currie and Swizterland's Jan van Berkel.

Included in the women's field are six-time Wanaka champion Gina Crawford (NZL), Laura Siddall (GBR), Annabel Luxford (AUS), Amelia-Rose Watkinson (NZL) and Meredith Hill (AUS).

"I've built my career on racing tough, beautiful, bucket list races, and Challenge Wanaka is one of those on every triathlete's bucket list," Thomas says. "The scenery and course are right up my alley, not to mention all the great things you hear about Challenge Family productions. I can't wait to check it out and race for my first time in New Zealand."

Thomas burst onto the triathlon scene in 2011 when he won the famed Wildflower Triathlon as an unknown in his first pro race. Crossing the line in first wearing a pair of Aviator sunglasses he bought at a drug store (he did the bike on a borrowed bike), the race announcer proclaimed him the winner of the race, then was heard asking "Dude, what's your name?"

Thomas has since amassed a number of titles including five straight Wildflower wins along with victories at Ironman Wales (his first full-distance race) and Ironman Lanzarote (where he beat Jan Frodeno).

Challenge Wanaka serves as the New Zealand National Long Distance Championship and is New Zealand's largest triathlon festival with over 2,500 participants.