Braden Currie and Hannah Wells posted dominating victories at the Nutri-Grain Ironman New Zealand Saturday in Taupo.
Currie won his second Ironman New Zealand title with a dominating 7:57:13 performance that gave him a 9:26 margin over runner-up and fellow Kiwi Mike Phillips. Currie started the day with a second-best 47:30 swim leg that was 57 seconds behind leader Kyle Smith, then arrived at T2 in a close, three-man pack with Smith and Mike Phillips. Once on the run, Currie smashed all rivals with a by-far, race-best 2:40:47 marathon that was 9:05 better than runner-up Phillips and 11:41 better than Smith.
“I knew it was going to be a tough run,” Currie told Stuff Magazine. “I had to grit my teeth at the 30km mark, keep the tempo up and stay in there.”
Currie added that this result bolsters his confidence to improve on his 5th place best at Kona. “This race builds good confidence going into the year and focusing on World Champs. I had my first win here on debut (in 2017), but this feels more solid.”
Wells overcame a 5:16 deficit after the swim with women’s-best marks on the bike and run to finish in 9:01:50 with a 13:49 margin of victory over fellow Kiwi Rebecca Clarke. While Wells won in dominating fashion in her first Ironman attempt, she fell 20:21 short of Teresa Adam’s 2020 women’s record mark.
“This means so much, I can’t even put it into words,” said Wells, who was coming off a win at the Challenge Wanaka half. “I had a plan and I wanted to stick to it. There were always going to be surprises and tough moments. I had a rough swim and the second half of the marathon was tough but I’m really stoked to make it to the finish line.”
Kyle Smith led the swim with a 46:323 split that gave him a 57 seconds lead on Currie and 58 seconds on his brother Ben Currie, 1:02 on Simon Cochrane and 1:16 on Phillips. After a race-best 4:23:29 bike split by Phillips, 4:23:47 by Currie and 4:23:49 by Smith, the trio arrived at T2 within seconds. Once they started the run, Currie broke away to a race-best 2:40:47 split that brought him to the line in 7:57:13 with a 9:26 margin on Phillips. Currie’s finish fell 2:56 short of Joe Skipper’s 2020 race record.
Multi-Ironman New Zealand winner Cameron Brown had a difficult day, which he recounted on Facebook:
"I finished the race today but sadly disqualified. Things were going well and I felt good coming off the bike but within the first few kilometers in the run leg I could feel my feet getting tighter and tighter and my front toe joint seized up. I tried to stretch it out and stopped multiple times but the more I continued to run the more pain I was in, by 20km my hips had now seized up as well and I was forced to walk. I saw my son on the side of the road and swapped out my shoes with him and immediately felt the pain ease although it was still a long slow jog to the finish which is all I wanted to do and honor the race which has been so good to me. I crossed the line in my slowest Ironman in Taupo in 8:58hr but sadly disqualified for outside assistance. Hopefully my feet and legs will be right in a few days. I went into the race in great shape but that’s racing and looking forward to my next race soon."
Rebecca Clarke led the women’s swim with a 48:39 split that gave her a 5:16 lead on Wells and 12-13 minutes on Emily McNaughton and Melanie Burke. Wells then took off like a rocket with a 4:50:41 bike split that was 11:30 better than Clarke and 14 minutes better than McNaughton and gave her a 6 minutes margin starting the run. After a women’s-fastest 3:10:51 marathon, Wells finished in 9:01:50 with a 13:49 margin of victory on Clarke and 36:53 on 3rd place finisher McNaughton.
“I had my first (Ironman) win here on debut, this feels more solid,” Wells told Stuff magazine. “It’s tough racing Ironman and it just gets tougher and tougher.”
Nutri-Grain Ironman New Zealand
Taupo, New Zealand
March 27, 2021
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.
1. Braden Currie (NZL) S 47:30 T1 3:42 B 4:23:47 T2 1:30 R 2:40:47 TOT 7:57:13
2. Mike Phillips (NZL) S 47:49 T1 3:47 B 4:23:29 T2 1:44 R 2:49:52 TOT 8:06:39
3. Kyle Smith (NZL) S 46:33 T1 4:37 B 4:23:49 T2 2:17 R 2:51:40 TOT 8:08:54
4. Jack Moody (NZL) S 53:36 T1 4:35:50 T2 2:46 R 2:42:15 TOT 8:18:24
5. Ben Phillips (NZL) S 47:31 T1 3:40 B 4:29:47 T2 2:18 R 2:56:44 TOT 8:20:00
6. Simon Cochrane (NZL) S 47:35 T1 3:38 B 4:39:08 T2 2:11 R 2:52:10 TOT 8:24:40
7. Lucas Duross (NZL) S 54:14 T1 4:51 B 4:49:15 T2 2:41 R 3:00:28 TOT 8:51:27
8. Cameron Brown (NZL) S 52:05 T1 4:25 B 4:31:50 T2 2:05 R 3:28:25 TOT 8:58:48 * Disqualified for outside assistance
1. Hannah Wells (NZL) 53:55 T1 4:25 B 4:50:41 T2 2:00 R 3:10:51 TOT 9:01:50
2. Rebecca Clarke (NZL) S 48:39T1 4:48 B 5:02:09 T2 2:24 R 3:17:41 TOT 9:15:39
3. Emily McNaughton (NZL) S 1:01:05 T1 5:14 B 5:12:23 T2 2:13 R 3:17:49m TOT 9:38:43
4. Melanie Burke (NZL) S 1:09:11 T1 5:30 B 5:18:17 T2 2:20 R 3:29:57 TOT 10:05:13