Braden Currie of New Zealand and Meredith Kessler of the U.S. defended their 2015 titles to win Ironman 70.3 Taupo.
Currie led the men’s swim in 24:03, fell to 5th with a 6th-fastest 2:09:42 bike split and charged to the win with a race-best 1:14:42 run to finish in 3:52:44 with a 33 seconds margin of victory over fellow Kiwi Mike Phillips (2nd-fastest 1:16:45 run) and 4:12 over 3rd-place finisher Todd Skipworth of Australia (3rd-fastest 1:18:06 run).
Currie, based in Wanaka, struggled hard to stay in touch on the bike leg. “I just had to do what I could do on the bike and know that if I could remain within striking distance on the run then I would have a chance,” Currie told RNZ sports. Currie gained the lead midway through the run only to have Mike Phillips counter-attack and run beside him midway through the run. “I put an effort in to put 200 metres on Mike and I thought I was running well and he would be happy to sit there but it was a bit surprise to see him run up beside me. I took my time and then put down the hammer 5 kilometres out and knew I had to hang on."
Kessler led the women’s swim with a 25:35 split, posted a women's 2nd-best 2:23:38 bike split to take the lead at T2 and ran a women’s 2nd-best 1:27:53 split to finish in in 4:22:35 with a an 8 seconds margin of victory over fast-closing Laura Siddall of Great Britain (women’s-best 1:24:25 run).
“Of my seven wins here in Taupo, this was by far the hardest,” Kessler told Radio New Zealand. “Another 100 meters and think she could have beaten me. I am thrilled to win here. And now I will recover and prepare to return here in March for the New Zealand Ironman and attempt a six-peat which will be no easy task.”
Last year’s runner-up Amelia Watkinson of New Zealand took 3rd, 5:49 behind the winner.
Ironman 70.3 Taupo
Taupo, New Zealand
December 10, 2016
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.
1. Braden Currie (NZL) 3:52:44
2. Mike Phillips (NZL) 3:53:17
3. Todd Skipworth (AUS) 3:56:56
4. Eddie Rawles (NZL) 3:57:50
5. Drew Scott (USA) 3:58:09
6. Lachlan Kerin (AUS) 3:59:40
7. Dougal Allan (NZL) 3:59:53
8. Cameron Brown (NZL) 4:03:14
9. Paul Ambrose (AUS) 4:04:47
10. Simon Cochrane (NZL) 4:06:21
1. Meredith Kessler (USA) 4:22:35
2. Laura Siddall (GBR) 4:22:43
3. Amelia Watkinson (NZL) 4:28:24
4. Rebecca Elliot (NZL) 4:37:58 * F25-29
5. Alison Wilson (GBR) 4:39:05 * F25-29
6. Rebecca Clarke (NZL) 4:42:52
7. Laura Wood (NZL) 4:45:06
8. Tamsyn Hayes (NZL) 4:45:11
9. Hannah Lawrence (NZL) 4:45:19
10. Pip Meo (NZL) 4:52:03