Wells takes full-distance debut at Ironman New Zealand

Hanna Wells winning Ironman 70.3 Taupo in 2019. Photo: hannahwellsathlete.wordpress.com

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the field at the rescheduled Ironman New Zealand included only athletes from the home country, but that didn’t stop full-distance rookie Hannah Wells (Dr. Hannah Wells, actually – she has a PhD in Biotech Engineering) from making an impressive debut with a huge win at Ironman New Zealand today.

With defending champ Teresa Adam out of the race due to illness, Wells arrived in Taupo as the prohibitive women’s favorite in the small field of four women even though she’d never done a full-distance race. Last month she’d beaten the women expected to be her main competition, Rebecca Clarke, by almost 10 minutes at Challenge Wanaka.

While Clarke led the way out of the water by over five minutes over Wells, the doctor took her time moving up, eventually catching the swim leader at the 90 km point of the bike and never looking back. At that point it was clear that this would be a two-woman race as Emily McNaughton and Melanie Burke were well behind. By the time Wells hit T2 the lead was over six minutes, and by the halfway point of the marathon her lead was over 14 minutes on Clarke.

Wells would work her way through a 3:10 marathon to take the win in 9:01:50, well off of Adam’s record setting 8:40:29 from a year ago, but well ahead of Clarke (9:15:39). Another full-distance rookie, Emily McNaughton, rounded out the podium (9:38:43).