Challenge Wanaka 2012 – “the worlds most scenic Iron distance triathlon”

This year I was commissioned by Marathon Photos to cover the Challenge Wanaka iron distance event on January 21, 2012. We all flew down on the Thursday prior and convoyed over to Wanaka from Queenstown airport. The first day we went out on course and checked locations around lake Wanaka on the bike section. The next day Rob Scott and I checked Lake Hawea. We chose this as the spot for my first location on race day.

A competitor rides past Lake Hawea in the early morning light in postcard like conditions

The second location was along the Clutha River as it leaves lake Wanaka. We scouted along the entire length of the trail section and found a number of great spots. Rob was set up at the first good stage with a lighting tree (4 small strobes set as a cluster) filling in the shadow side of the runners. I went further in and found a great Willow tree that had fallen over creating a stunning backdrop. Hannah Johnson from Getty Images was set up there shooting, so I went further in and found a great long shot:

A runner comes down a long straight beside the Clutha River out from Wanaka

I relayed messages with Rob and worked out when Hannah had left her spot (after the lead male and females had passed), then set up my lighting to fill in the runners coming through the shadowed area. With the fish eye lens it was a dramatic and strong scene. I managed to get close enough kneeling on the actual trail while not getting in the way of the runners.

A small group of athletes not competing (or already finished the race) came by- I liked the athleticism of the group in this scene

At the end of the day, we all gathered and took turns relieving coverage of the finish line – with the last competitor Garth Barfoot coming in at over 18hrs. We wrapped the shoot at 1am, for sure a long day! The cool thing was the fireworks show at midnight and line up of supporters who lit sparklers to welcome in Garth + champagne being sprayed as he crossed the line. Very inspiring indeed. A big part of why I have signed up for the Loop the Lake 1/2 marathon in April- thanks Garth and all the other competitors…

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