It appears nothing can stop teen triathlete Ben Marshall-Lee.

Four years ago, the sporty Christchurch boy was diagnosed with a rare bone condition that sidelined him for 12 months.

"I was in Year 7 and doing quite a lot of sport when I started getting pain behind the knee," he says.

An MRI scan showed Marshall-Lee was suffering from osteochondritis dissecans, a disorder where blood deprivation to the area leads to cracks in the bone and cartilage. Surgery was an option but Marshall-Lee chose to let his knee heal naturally.


"To be unable to do anything for a year was really difficult. I wasn't allowed to break out of a walk ... all I could do was some swimming and a little bit of cycling."

Marshall-Lee recovered, and today the 16-year-old Christ's College student will stand on the start line of the Sovereign Tri Wanaka event for the second consecutive year.

Marshall-Lee cites pristine Lake Wanaka and its spectacular mountain backdrop as a major drawcard, and Triathlon New Zealand chief executive Craig Waugh agrees.

"It is a wonderful part of the world and we can't wait to be back. We're glad we've retained the Wanaka event, as we receive constant reminders from the South Island community that more triathlons are needed."

Wanaka is the third event in the Sovereign Tri Series, and one of only two South Island venues. Individuals or teams may enter, and there are a range of distance options to suit novice, intermediate or elite athletes.

The standard triathlon distance is an age group selection event for the World Tri Series. Corporate entries can duel for a $25,000 cash purse on offer in the CEO Challenge.

Wanaka-based world No 5 triathlete Nicky Samuels will be on hand to offer support and advice to participants.