Challenge Wanaka 2023: Jack Moody and Grace Thek victorious in an exciting race

Jack Moody and Grace Thek emerged victorious at Challenge Wanaka with impressive runs securing their wins.

Challenge Wanaka 2023: Jack Moody and Grace Thek victorious in an exciting race

New Zealand’s Jack Moody and Australia’s Grace Thek emerged as the champions of the Challenge Wanaka 2023, a race filled with excitement, thrills, and spectacle.

The men's race was won by Jack Moody, who ran a resounding victory after a minor crash on the bike. Mike Phillips finished second, while race favourite Sebastian Kienle rounded out the podium. Meanwhile, in the women’s race, Grace Thek ran an outstanding off-road course to win the race, while Els Visser and Rebecca Clarke finished second and third, respectively.

The big picture: Challenge Wanaka is held in the beautiful Wanaka region of New Zealand, comprising a 1.9km swim, a 90km bike ride, and a 21km run.

The 2023 edition attracted a strong field of athletes from around the world. The race began with a swim in Lake Wanaka, followed by a scenic bike ride through the surrounding mountains, and ended with a challenging off-road run.

How the race was won

  • In the men's race, Mike Phillips led the field after the swim and maintained the lead during the bike ride. However, Moody, who fell off the bike due to a minor crash, ran an unrivalled race, closing the gap with Phillips during the off-road run and eventually taking the win in a time of 3:58:01. Phillips finished second, while Kienle rounded out the podium.
  • The women's race was also exciting to follow. Initially, Lotte Wilms led the swim, followed by Rebecca Clarke and Grace Thek. Clarke took the lead during the bike ride, but Thek made up time during the off-road run and eventually won the race in a time of 4:32:30. Visser finished second, while Clarke finished third.

What they are saying: Moody, who had a minor crash during the bike ride, said, "Watching the big Australian and German powerhouses come by on the bike is a pretty humbling experience, but I knew my run was in good shape. Recently I haven’t been able to show the running pedigree I was originally known for so it was good to have that card up my sleeve."

Meanwhile, Thek, who won her first Challenge race, said, "It was really fun. I come from a cross-country background, so I like the trails, but it’s been a while since I’ve been on them, so it was pretty tough. I’m stoked to take the win here. It’s my first Challenge win, so that’s really special, and it’s great to do it in such a beautiful place."

Context: Challenge Wanaka is one of the most scenic triathlons in the world, set against the beautiful backdrop of the Southern Alps in New Zealand. The race attracts a strong field of international athletes every year, with the course being considered one of the most challenging in the world.