Kyle Smith and Els Visser Dominate at Challenge Wanaka 2024

Kyle Smith and Els Visser dominated the first Challenge Family event of 2024, securing impressive wins in Wanaka.

Kyle Smith and Els Visser Dominate at Challenge Wanaka 2024

The first Challenge Family titles of 2024 were awarded to Kyle Smith (NZL) and Els Visser (NED) after their impressive victories at Challenge Wanaka. Smith led from the start, winning in 3:53:08, while Visser showcased her strength on the bike, securing a comfortable lead to finish in 4:34:46.

Visser, determined to overcome her second-place finish from the previous year, had unfinished business at Wanaka. Meanwhile, Smith aimed to assert his dominance on the challenging course.

How the Race Was Won


In the women's race, Rebecca Clarke (NZL) led out of the water in 24:27, followed by Aleisha Wesley (NZL) just over a minute later. Visser exited in fifth, 4:30 behind, with Laura Siddall (GBR) on her heels. Smith led the men's field, completing the swim in 23:08, followed closely by Mike Phillips (NZL), Benjamin Zorgnotti (FPY), Valentino Agnelli (ARG), Jack Moody (NZL), and Nick Thompson (AUS).


Visser quickly closed the gap to the leaders, reducing her deficit to less than a minute by the 30km mark. On the climb out of Red Bridge around 60km, she made a decisive move, taking the lead. Clarke initially followed but eventually fell back. Entering T2, Visser had extended her lead, with Clarke trailing by 2:03, Wesley by 5:25, and Siddall, now in fourth, by 9:47.

Smith pushed hard on the bike, building his lead throughout the 90km course. By T2, he had a 2:30 lead over Phillips, with defending champion Moody and Zorgnotti battling for third, nearly nine minutes behind.


Visser's substantial lead remained unchallenged on the challenging Wanaka trail run. She crossed the finish line in 4:34:46, securing victory. Clarke held on to second place, finishing in 4:43:29, while Siddall ran into third, clocking 4:44:22.

Smith's lead continued to grow during the tough trail run, which included two challenging climbs. By the halfway point, his lead over Phillips had extended to five minutes, with Moody struggling to close the gap. Smith finished in 3:53:08, followed by Phillips in 3:58:11 and Moody in 4:00:21.

Post-Race Reflections

Visser expressed her emotional connection to New Zealand, dedicating her win to her friend, Brazilian triathlete Luisa Baptista, who is recovering from a severe accident. Smith described his performance as "one of those magical days" and his best in three years.