Braden Currie and Amelia Rose Wilkinson defended their 2016 titles at the 2017 Port of Tauranga Half Saturday at Mount Maunganui.
Currie started with a race-best 21:22 swim leg, and then surged to an unassailable 2:01 lead on 19-year-old charger Hayden Wilde and 2:11 on 44-year-old legend Cameron Brown with a race-best 2:08:13 bike split. Currie wrapped up the victory with a race-best 1:13:55 half marathon.
Currie, 30, set a new course record of 3:45:38 – 2:16 better than the 3:47:54 mark shared by Nathan Richmond in 2006 and Graham O’Grady in 2013. Currie also fended off a charge by 2017 runner-up and 10-time Port of Tauranga winner Cameron Brown by 2:17, and led Hayden Wilde by 2:55.
“There was definitely wind out there and it was pretty interesting being solo on the bike that sort of made it a bit more of a battle,” Currie told the New Zealand Herald. “But it was surprisingly good actually.”
“I am very happy with my 2nd place today,” Brown posted on Facebook. “Will be working on my swim starts in the next 8 weeks before Ironman NZ as it was the only thing that suffered in today's race. Once I got the diesel engine running it was fine but it's taking a while to kick start the 44 year old motor! I picked off everyone during the bike except Braden Currie who was flying up front and held a 2:20 lead [including T2] off the bike.”
Brown, who was running a 1:14:02 half marathon, caught Wilde, who was running a 1:14:41 split, with 5 kilometers to go and bested his young rival by 38 seconds.
Wilde said he was excited to come out of T2 ahead of Brown and hung on to that lead for 15 kilometers.
“I came out in transition ahead of him somehow,” Wilde told the New Zealand Herald. “I felt really good about the 15k mark and then Cameron caught me. We stayed together on the second lap around the Mount [Maunganui] and he got me on one of the hills and I thought 'that was me done'.”
Defending champion Amelia Rose Wilkinson, 25, emerged from the water with a 25:02 split, trailing only swim leader Teresa Adam by 2:26 and leading top contender Julia Grant by 2:49.
After a women’s-fastest 2:21:39 bike split, Wilkinson began the run with a 3:00 lead on Adam, 4:12 on Grant (2:23:21 bike split) and 4:13 on Tamsyn Hayes (women’s 2nd-best 2:22:41 bike split).
On the run, Grant charged to a women’s-best 1:25:20 run, which took 1:57 out of Wilkinson’s lead. However, including a bike-to-run transition which was 25 seconds faster than Grant, Wilkinson finished in 4:16:30 with a 2:34 margin of victory over Grant and 3:38 over 3rd-place finisher Adam.
Port of Tauranga Half
Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand
January 7, 2016
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Braden Currie (NZL) 3:45:38 *course record
2. Cameron Brown (NZL) 3:47:55
3. Hayden Wilde (NZL) 3:48:33
4. Alexander Polizzi (AUS) 3:50:11
5. Simon Cochrane (NZL) 3:53:05
1. Amelia Rose Watkinson (NZL) 4:16:30
2. Julia Grant (NZL) 4:19:04
3. Teresa Adam (NZL) 4:20:08
4. Alison Wilson (GBR) 4:23:40
5. Tamsyn Hayes (NZL) 4:23:44