9 Dec 2017

New Zealanders sweep half Ironman

8:04 pm on 9 December 2017

New Zealand triathletes Mike Phillips and Amelia Watkinson have take out the men's and women's half Ironman event in Taupo.

Mike Phillips

Mike Phillips Photo: supplied

The race was minus the usual 1.8km swim due to the potentially toxic algae found in Lake Taupo on Thursday and the atheletes took on a 3km run, 90km bike ride and 21km run course in near perfect conditions.

Christchurch's Mike Phillips controlled the men's race from start to finish, winning by over two minutes from Wanaka's Braden Currie, with Callum Millward in third making it an all New Zealand men's podium.

"I was second here last year so it is great to get the win," said Phillips.

"Duathlon is not my strength, I am more a swim-biker, so I took the opportunity to get a lead on the return leg bike and that ended up being just enough to get the win ahead of Braden and Callum. Braden is a phenomenal runner, it was important to keep an eye on him as he could always have a great run, so it is awesome to hold on."

Phillips is now targeting the full Ironman event in March.

"After today and my race in Barcelona, Ironman New Zealand is the big goal and it would be great to come back here and race all the top Kiwi guys and legends of the sport and hopefully make it to Kona. I have only done one full distance and ten or so 70.3 races, so I am beginning to get a handle on it."

The Cantabrian didn't think the late change to the course had a major impact on the Pro race.

"Not everyone that was a contender could swim well so I am not sure it would have changed things much. Everyone on the bike close together is not unusual, that is usually the time to break the race up anyway."

Based in Thailand, Auckland's Watkinson stamped her mark on the women's race at a similar time to Phillips, breaking the field apart on the bike back from Reporoa into Taupo and the transition to the run.

"That wasn't an easy one out there, I wore a few layers to make sure I didn't get too cold and I managed to hold on to the lead after making a break on the bike, but that run was tough, I was certainly pushed. It is tricky, not as hot as racing in Asia so I am probably not as thirsty and wasn't taking on enough electrolytes - and you need them, I was hurting on the second part of the run and was checking splits to make sure Jocelyn wasn't catching."

Watkinson is targeting the 2018 70.3 World Champs and then first Ironman later in the year, in an effort to try and qualify for Kona.

IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo (3km run, 90km bike, 21km run)


1 Mike Phillips, NZL, 3:36:02

2 Braden Currie, NZL, 3:38:32

3 Calllum Millward, NZL, 3:41:27


1 Amelia Watkinson, NZL, 3:59:42

2 Jocelyn McCauley, USA, 4:01:00

3 Laura Dennis, AUS, 4:02:23