However competition will be fierce for this ironman competition. Hoping to beat Gina will be DATEV Challenge Roth champion and former world record holder over the 226km distance, Yvonne van Vlerken (NED), who has had over 80 podiums in her career, along with 2015 runner-up Laura Siddall (GBR), Alyssa Godesky (USA) and Kiwi athlete, now resident in the USA, Anna Cleaver.

The mens will be equally exciting. Last year saw Dougal Allan (NZL) break the bike course record by almost 12 minutes, while Maik Twelsiek had the fastest bike split in Kona this year.

Other contenders for 2016 include Joe Skipper (GBR), who holds the fourth fastest 180km bike split of all time and also has a 2:50 marathon run split to his name, and Per Bittner (GER).

“I am excited to see such a great field lining up for ChallengeWanaka 2016,” said Dylan McNeice. “There are four to five guys there who will all bring different dynamics to the race, but one thing is for sure, it looks as though I will need to pack the best bike legs of my career. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the bike and overall race records fall this year, I think it is going to take a massive performance from the eventual winner.”

 Entries close on January 23 and it is expected that the pros will be joined by more than 1,600 age-group athletes.

This spectacular long distance triathlon race is set against the alpine backdrop of New Zealand’s Southern Alps and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area. The 180km bike takes in two alpine lakes, while the 42.2km run is 75 per cent off-road along the water’s edge.

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Live online TV coverage starts at 6:30am at challenge-wanaka.com with race updates on Twitter @ChallengeWanaka

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