Challenge Wanaka has been recognised for its innovation and ongoing success winning the 2018 University of Otago Innovation in Sport Award at ASB Bank Otago Sports Awards last night.
The Otago Sports Awards were held at the Dunedin Town Hall with the best of the province's sporting talent all on show as the region celebrated the best in Otago sport and looked back over the year’s highlights.
“To be recognized for innovation in sport is something pretty special,” Challenge Wanaka Race Director Bill Roxburgh said.
“We work hard at engaging with our local community and are proud we are always looking for innovative ways to improve each year on what is already a world class event. Winning the University of Otago Innovation of Sport Award is fantastic recognition of all the hard work that goes on, much of it unseen behind the scenes, from everyone involved in the event.”
Sport Otago Business Development and Events Manager Michael Smith said that while lots of events can claim to be innovative, it was the effort Challenge Wanaka makes to involve its local community and encourage youth and young kids to participate that makes it so special.
“Challenge Wanaka is truly a world class event and a world leader in triathlon so to have it in Otago is fantastic for our region as its sets a benchmark for innovation and community engagement for a sports event,” he said.
Smith said the event was recognised for its fantastic effort to make it not only a truly international race, but a community event that engages the young and the old.
“Bill engaged the expertise of the Otago Secondary Schools Sports Association and Sport Otago to create a very successful school’s competition. Add that to the growth in the Junior Challenge that now has over 1000 primary aged kids taking part in a fun and rewarding event that encourages our youth to get involved in outdoor activities, it’s a winning formula.”
The Junior Challenge is now the biggest event of its kind in the world with Wanaka schools including it part of their curriculum as a fun and enjoyable event with longer term benefits that sees fit and active local children embracing swimming, cycling and running as part of their lifestyle.
“Challenge Wanaka is still growing and it’s not just showing innovation but leadership to many smaller events around the country of how it is done; a world leader in our own back yard,” Smith said.
The next Challenge Wanaka is Saturday 16 February.