Libby all set to conquer Lake Wanaka Half

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Having retired from competitive swimming last year, Libby McGee is turning her attention to a new challenge – the Lake Wanaka Half.

The Oamaruvian swimmer spent nine years on the swimming circuit, at one point coming fifth in the country.

Having finished her time as a New Zealand age group swimmer, the 19-year-old said she wanted a new challenge, and after doing the swim section at last year’s half, she decided this year she would go all in.

With a 90km bike ride, 1.9km swim and an about 21km run ahead of her on Saturday, the Oamaru Aquatic Centre lifeguard and swim coach said she is “half nervous, half really excited”.

With triathlons through school under her belt, she said the Lake Wanaka Half was not the first triathlon she has tried her hand at, but with her previous efforts having about a 7km distance involved, biking, swimming and running over 100km is a new challenge.

“It’s kind of a new experience.”

The young athlete said she had been training hard since October to ensure her running and biking skills were up to scratch – and having done much of it alone, it was not always easy.

“I bought myself a road bike so I couldn’t back out of it,” McGee said.

“Once I’m out there I’m fine but getting going is the hard bit.”

McGee said she wants to be in the front group for the swimming section, wants to “at least” run the whole running section and just wants to get through the biking part of the half.

“A lot of people around work have said, ‘no, you’ll be fine’ . . . and it’s not like I’m gonna come last, I hope,” she said.

“I feel ready, I feel confident that I can do it.”

Challenge Wanaka media manager Sam White said McGee would join about 50 other Oamaruvians on the day taking part in the Half.

Only two Oamaruvians were trying their hand at the full marathon this year, he said.

Race director Victoria Murray-Orr said about 1200 people were taking part in the Half this year, and about 400 in the full.

Competitors would face an eight and a half hour triathlon, and double that for the full.

People needed a lot of physical and mental strength to handle the triathlon, she said.

Murray-Orr had a simple message for McGee and other competitors.

“Enjoy . . . I hope it’s a day to remember.”

By DAVID DE LOREAN

PHOTO: DAVID DE LOREAN