• Elite ‘Kiwi Summer of Tri’ calendar confirmed
• Wanaka and Taupo to host key Oceania races
• Continental Cups/Mixed Relay Championship lead to pinnacle World Cup New Plymouth

Oceania Cup sprint races and Continental Mixed Relay Championship confirmed

By Triathlon.kiwi
The road to the Paris 2024 Olympics has become clearer for New Zealand’s elite triathletes with Wanaka and Taupo joining New Plymouth as key race destinations for the upcoming elite ‘Kiwi Summer of Tri’.

Elite men’s and women’s Oceania Cup sprint races (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run) will be staged in Wanaka and Taupo on February 17 and February 25 respectively, the first as a high-powered Friday night prelude to the Challenge Wanaka Triathlon Festival which is part of the Tri NZ Suzuki National Series.

Taupo will also host the elite Oceania Mixed Relay Championship on February 26. It will be the first Continental championship ­- with associated Olympic Games qualifying points – to be raced in New Zealand since 2017.

In addition, Taupo will stage the Oceania Junior Sprint Championship and Oceania Junior Mixed Relay Championship on Feb. 25 and 26 respectively.

The elite races lead into World Cup New Plymouth on March 26, the crown jewel of the domestic calendar which will also be raced over the sport’s high octane sprint distance. Many of the leading names in the sport are expected to headline the Tri Taranaki Festival with World Cup racing second only to the blue-riband World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS). Kiwi No.1 Hayden Wilde currently leads the points race for the 2022 WTCS title.

Elite women’s podium at the 2022 Oceania Cup in Mt Maunganui. Photo: Hamish Collie.

After close collaboration with Oceania Triathlon and Triathlon Australia, Triathlon New Zealand CEO Pete De Wet anticipates strong Australian representation in Wanaka and Taupo before the influx of global talent in New Plymouth.

Likewise, New Zealand’s national squad members are expected to feature strongly at key “Conti Cup” and blue-riband Oceania Championship races in Australia this summer with the Oceania Sprint Championships (Devonport, Tasmania) confirmed for March 18, the week before New Plymouth.

Other critical trans-Tasman dates include the Oceania Cup Super Sprint at the Busselton Festival of Triathlon on April 28 and the Oceania Standard Distance Championship in Port Douglas (1500m swim, 40km bike, 10km run) on May 27.

“It’s fantastic to be able to announce the balance of our elite racing for the summer,” said De Wet. “We have worked closely with Triathlon Australia and Oceania Triathlon and couldn’t be happier with the overall outcome.

“It’s been five years since New Zealand hosted an Oceania Championships, so to be able to stage the Oceania Mixed Relay Championships and two elite Oceania Cups in the same summer, along with the World Cup in New Plymouth, is a great result not only for our athletes but for the whole Oceania region.”

Oceania Triathlon President Michelle Cooper is thrilled with New Zealand’s contribution to the strong Continental calendar for 2023.

“Post-COVID, our goals are to further strengthen the return to this level of racing by working collaboratively across our region to provide consistent, well-placed opportunities for all levels of our elite athletes to progress their careers,” Cooper said.

“The runway to Brisbane 2032 [the XXXV Summer Olympics] includes the Victoria 2026 Commonwealth Games and provides a generational opportunity to race locally and showcase how dynamic and sought-after racing in the southern hemisphere can be.”

While only WTCS, World Cup and Continental Championships carry Olympic Games qualifying points, the importance of the Oceania Cup races cannot be understated, Tri NZ Performance & Planning manager Stephen Sheldrake says.

Sheldrake describes the Cup races as an “amazing opportunity” to earn World Triathlon ranking points which in turn contribute to starts in WTCS, World Cup and Continental Championships – the launch pad to Paris.

“These events will not only help our elite and development athletes hone their racing skills, increase their profile and potentially earn a few dollars, it’s a critical stage from which to accumulate world ranking points early in the year whilst the northern hemisphere is in winter,” Sheldrake said.

“A higher world ranking allows easier entry into international events so to get the jump on the rest of world in 2023 is a huge win for our New Zealand athletes.

“With the mixture of Continental Cups, Championships, World Cups and Mixed Relays there are a number of opportunities for all our athletes which is very exciting. These events will also be great for the overall exposure of triathlon where we can showcase our best athletes and hopefully inspire the next generation of elite triathletes”.

2023 Kiwi Summer of Tri

Feb 17. – Oceania Cup (Sprint) @ Challenge Wanaka
Feb 25. – Oceania Cup (Sprint), Taupo
Feb. 26 – Oceania Mixed Relay Championship (Sprint), Taupo
Mar. 26 – World Cup New Plymouth @ Tri Taranaki Festival

Feb. 25 – Oceania Junior Sprint Championship, Taupo
Feb. 26 – Oceania Junior Mixed Relay Championship, Taupo

Other key Oceania Triathlon Dates
Mar. 18 – Oceania Sprint Championships, Devonport (Tasmania)
April 28 – Oceania Cup (Super Sprint) @Busselton Festival of Triathlon
May 27 – Oceania Standard Distance Championship, Port Douglas

* * *

Challenge Wanaka & Taupo spotlight 

Integrity Homes Challenge Wanaka Race Director Bill Roxburgh is delighted to have high-profile Oceania Cup racing to ignite one the key race dates on the New Zealand triathlon calendar.

The Oceania Cup race is the climax of Challenge Wanaka’s ‘Friday Night Showcase’ and will be proceeded by a community-focused children’s mini event and the ‘New World Three Parks 3-9-3’ – a 300m swim, 9km bike, 3km run open to all abilities and ages 18+.

The following day, the legendary Challenge Wanaka Half (1.9km swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run) will headline a host of racing options including cross tri and cross duathlons, aquabike and even a Bay-to-Bay swim.

Braden Currie in action at the Integrity Homes Challenge Wanaka / Challenge Asia Pacific Championships. Image courtesy bradencurrie.com/ Nei Kerri

“The Challenge Wanaka Sports Trust is really excited to be hosting the inaugural Design Windows Twilight Challenge which will see elite athletes from New Zealand, Australia and beyond battling it out for a place on the podium in the centre of Wanaka township,” said Roxburgh.

“This event will open the Challenge Wanaka Triathlon Festival, showcasing triathlon to the Wanaka community, supporting local businesses and giving our 2500 athletes and their supporters something special to watch. We can’t wait.”

The Challenge Wanaka Cross Tri doubles as the Tri NZ Suzuki National Cross Triathlon Championship with places at the 2023 World Triathlon Age Group Multisport World Championships in Ibiza, Spain up for grabs. The Garth Barfoot Aquabike Mid Distance Race is a Tri NZ South Island Championship which serves as a secondary qualifier for Ibiza (April 29-May 7, 2023).

Taupo Oceania Cup and Mixed Relay Championship Race Director Shanelle Barrett is excited to be bringing Continental racing back to her hometown.

“In the height of summer this event will attract an awesome crowd and again will be another event in New Zealand for our elite athletes to battle it out for valuable ranking points,” said Barrett who doubles as Race Director for the Tri Taranaki Festival incorporating World Cup New Plymouth.

“These events are important to inspire the next generation and we are looking forward to seeing the athletes take to the pristine Taupo waters in February over a two-day event with short and fast racing.”

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