Their victory at Ironman 70.3 Taupo dates back to 2019 – after that, the race was not organized for three years – but defending champions Kyle Smith and Hannah Berry have just won the race in New Zealand again.
Smith, along with Javier Gomez, came out of the water first after 22:44 minutes. The two also stayed together on the bike, although Kurt McDonald came riding from behind and soon joined the two leaders. The situation did not stay that way, however, as Gomez would drop out and eventually Smith came into T2 first on his own, followed by McDonald at just 28 seconds. Ben Hamilton, at that point in third position, was 3:20 minutes behind and Jack Moody and Braden Currie also followed within four minutes of each other.
Smith and McDonald stayed together for about 15 kilometers, but then Smith proved too strong. Slowly but surely he saw his lead widen a bit. In the end, he won the race in 3:44:30. Moody experienced a great run and advanced to second place in the closing stages: he finished in 3:45:19. McDonald finished third in 3:45:21, narrowly missing out on silver.
Women’s race – Hannah Berry does the trick
In the women’s race, Dutch Lotte Wilms came out of the water first after 25:05 minutes, but she must have been a bit surprised to see Rebecca Clarke, Hannah Berry ánd Hannah Knighton still with her. Normally Wilms actually always comes out of the water solo in the lead, but that was not the case today. These four women initially stayed together on the bike, but Knighton was the first woman to drop off and could not stay with the leading group.
The three leading women stayed together for the entire 90 kilometers and also returned to T2 at the same time. Entering the half marathon, it was already clear that the battle for medals would be between front runners Wilms, Clarke and Berry, as first chaser Knighton followed at 5:34 minutes and the next woman, Deborah Fuller, was already more than sixteen minutes behind.
During the run, it quickly became apparent that no one was equal to Berry: she immediately ran away and then led solo for 21 kilometers. During those kilometers she saw her lead constantly increase. Wilms, meanwhile, had to work hard to stay ahead of Clarke; her lead increased, but slowly and for a long time the two women were only a few seconds apart. It automatically meant that Wilms could not slacken off anywhere. Only in the final kilometers did Wilms manage to consolidate her second place by increasing her lead over Clarke.
Berry won the race in a time of 4:14.59. Wilms captured the silver in a time of 4:20:30 and Clarke finished third in 4:21:46.