Kiwi champions Cameron Brown and Joanna Lawn captured the honors at the Port of Tauranga Half at Mount Maunganui Saturday.
The 39-year-old Brown held off a stiff challenge from defending champion Callum Millward and the 38-year old Lawn cruised to a relatively large margin over Hannah Lawrence at the 22nd edition of the race which doubles as the New Zealand long distance triathlon championship.
Brown’s win was his 9th Port of Tauranga half victory – his previous victories came in a seven-win streak from 1998 through 2004 and again in 2007. Lawn took her 4th title, one more than Samantha Warriner, who sat out this year’s contest. Lawn’s previous wins came in 2006, 2007 and 2011.
Brown’s winning time of 3:53:42 topped Millward by 36 seconds but was well off Nathan Richmond’s 2006 race record of 3:47:54.
Lawn hit the finish in 4:22:54, 6:43 ahead of Lawrence but well off Samantha Warriner’s race record of 4:10:47.
German Olympic distance triathlete Sean Donnelly and Millward led Brown by a minute after the swim.
Brown and 2010 Port of Tauranga winner Michael Poole caught up to the leaders at the halfway point of the bike and kept the pressure on Millward, who had beaten Brown last month at the Taupo Half.
"That was the key for me today,” Brown told the Fairfax New Zealand News. “I managed to push things on the bike and put the pressure on Callum which took some of the sting out of him before the run.”
Sure enough, Donnelly and Poole fell off the pace at the start of the 13.1-mile final leg and Millward tucked in close at Brown’s elbow. Finally, Brown saw an opening and took it.
“I was waiting for him to attack but I managed to edge away on a slight downhill,” Brown told the Fairfax New Zealand News. “I thought this is it, I have to make it stick and went for it. I am absolutely thrilled… To win this title nine times is very special and to win it again at 39 against the young guys is special.”
Tim Berkel of Australia took third, 7:10 back of Millward.
Jo Lawn led out of the swim, but after suffering some mechanical issues on the first of two 45 km laps of the bike, Belinda Harper caught the seven-time Ironman New Zealand champion and they rode together to T2.
"The rear wheel kept locking up,” Lawn told the Fairfax New Zealand News. “So I stopped and thought it was fixed but it rubbed a bit more on the second lap. I just had to stay patient though and cope with it."
As Lawn ran away to the win, Harper faded and Hannah Lawrence carved through the field to second place with a race-best 1:28:23 split for the half marathon. Tamsyn Hayes was 39 seconds further back to take the final spot on the women’s podium.
Port of Tauranga Half
Mount Maunganui, New Zealand
January 7, 2011
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Cameron Brown (NZL) 3:53:42
2. Callum Millward (NZL) 3:54:18
3. Tim Berkel (AUS) 4:01:28
4. Shanon Stallard (NZL) 4:06:51
5. Daniel Plews (NZL) 4:08:00
1. Joanna Lawn (NZL) 4:22:54
2. Hannah Lawrence (NZL) 4:29:37
3. Tamsyn Hayes (NZL) 4:30:16
4. Elaine Brent (NZL) 4:31:54
5. Belinda Harper (NZL) 4:32:16