Photos: Sean Beale /

By Kent Gray/ in Wanaka
Some days nothing goes right despite the best laid plans. Rarely in triathlon do you get the reverse where everything plays out perfectly either. Perhaps then Kyle Smith’s Integrity Homes Challenge Wanaka win for the ages on Saturday, a healthy mix of class and chaos, is the new blueprint for glory.

No matter what the world renowned 1900m swim, 90km bike and 21.1km hill-infused half marathon course threw at him, the Taupo 25-year-old found an impressive answer.

If he wasn’t being led an extra 50m on the swim by a directionally challenged kayaker or being mistakenly waved past bike turnarounds or up one-way roads, Smith was busy getting on with a wire to wire win that will go down in Wanaka lore.

Indeed, his astonishing time of 3:53:08 set up a second triumph in the “world’s most picturesque triathlon” in four years and saw Smith smoke Canterbury’s Mike Phillips by five minutes and defending champion Jack Moody by more than seven.

It wasn’t like reigning Ironman NZ champion Phillips or Aucklander Moody were having off days. Moody produced bike power approaching career best level but never got the chance to use his noted foot speed to haul himself back into the race.

Jack Moody

Smith was just having one of the days when even when things went wrong, everything turned out better than alright.

“That was a phenomenal day for me,” Smith told

“It’s not many days you get like that, it’s once in a blue moon when you sort of have those legs and you just feel good all day. A couple of things went wrong but luckily I was feeling good enough to weather the storm.”

Smith lead by nearly a minute out of picture postcard Lake Wanaka despite the unexpected distance addition.

“I did that on the bike too. I guess when you are in the lead. you’re the first person to reach people [course marshals and volunteers] when they’re at a turnaround of something. I went past the [bike] turnaround because the lead car thought it was the next one, there were a few things like that.”

More concerning were his the loose cranks and unanswered calls for a mechanic during the bike leg.

“Then I had a bike mechanical but luckily I sort of made it back to transition…my cranks were about to come loose. I was trying to get a bike mechanic out to me but they didn’t arrive so luckily I made it home.”

Even with the 90km bike dismount line in sight, Smith was led up the exit chute that was still leading competitors in other races out onto the bike circuit. After much confusion and what would normally be precious seconds lost, Smith turned around and was soon out for the run

“I got directed that way. I guess it’s no ones fault, it’s my fault, I should have known the course but when you sort of get pointed into here, go in here [gesturing] …but like I say, luckily enough I was having a good day so I could sort of weather those little mistakes.

“I had a great day and hopefully I can keep this form going throughout the season.”

Smith’s great day included a 1:18:43 split for the 21.1km. Moody was again the run hare, stopping the clock in 1:17:12 but had too much ground to make up on Phillips, let alone Smith who left everyone in his dust.

Mike Phillips

December’s Iromman 70.3 World Championships in hometown Taupo is the primary focus for Smith in 2024. What happens in between is still a little grey but you can be sure it will be in the mid distances.

“I put a circle around Taupo two years ago. I made sure I qualified on the first weekend of qualification so got that one ticked off and that is going to be my main focus. Obviously to race world champs is special but to then race the world champs at home is something that is phenomenal, I’m looking forward to it,” Smith said.

“Obviously some of the calendar has been released now but it sort of depends on starts [what the rest of his schedule looks like]. I might chase some of the Challenge races, might do the Challenge champs in Roth or I might so some of the Ironman stuff and if I get a call up to the PTO series [T100 World Tour of Triathlon], obviously I’ll take that with open arms.

“We’ll give everything I toe the line on my best shot.”

If Saturday is any indication, Smith’s best shot will take some beating on the mid distance circuit this season, regardless of the race’s branding any more unlucky breaks coming his way.

Full Integrity Homes Challenge Wanaka results HERE

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