Braden Currie & Rebecca Clarke Defend Tauranga Half Titles

Sunday 22 January 2023

Today’s Tauranga Half produced two outstanding elite races, with Braden Currie taking out the men’s title in race record time, while Rebecca Clarke beat the best in NZ long distance multisport to defend her women’s title in this iconic multisport event.

The 34th running of the Tauranga Half drew outstanding elite fields, who competed in near perfect conditions at Mount Maunganui. The event also doubled as the NZ Middle Distance Triathlon Champs, giving the wins by Currie & Clarke special significance.

In the men’s field, Braden Currie led from start to finish, smashing the elite field, and the race record, in a time of 3:37:47. He had an outstanding swim, opening up a lead on Sam Osborne and Mike Phillips out of the water at Pilot Bay.

Former event winner Mike Phillips then recorded the fastest time on the 90km bike leg, and was just behind Currie as they headed out onto on the 21.1k run leg

Braden Currie produced the best run of the day, completing the 21.1k course which runs around Mt Maunganui’s base track twice, in a time of 1:13:40, to take the title from Mike Phillips by a three minute margin. Jack Moody finished third, two minutes further back.

This is Currie’s fourth win in the Tauranga Half following victories in 2016, 2017 & 2022. Only NZ multisport legend Cameron Brown has more titles in this iconic event.

In describing his victory, Currie said – “I felt good all day. I wanted to swim hard and make it a solo race. I put the hammers down and was able to open up a buffer on the swim. Mike Phillips was my heels towards the end of the swim and not far behind heading into the bike leg. I wanted to stay in control on the bike leg, and maintain a good distance on strong runners such as Jack Moody. I had a great run and was able to build into it, and not push too hard.”

Braden Currie’s race record time today was almost two minutes faster than the previous one set by Kyle Smith in 2021. When asked about his new record, he said – “I was a few seconds outside the record last year, so it was nice to beat it this year. Hopefully, this one sticks for a while”.

Today’s performance sets up Braden Currie, the 2 x NZ Ironman Champ, and 4 x Coast to Coast winner, for a big year ahead as he builds towards the IRONMAN World Championship, which has moved its men’s event from Kona, Haiwaii to Nice, France in September this year.

The Tauranga Half elite women’s race proved to the one of the best races seen on the Mount Manganui course in years with a star-studded field which included defending champ Rebecca Clarke and two time winners – Amelia Watkinson and Hannah Berry (nee Wells). Watkinson won the event in 2016 & 2017 and has spent the past 5 years based on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, racking up a huge number of wins on the international triathlon circuit. She made a special trip back to NZ to compete in today’s big event. Hannah Berry won the event in 2019 & 2020 and being based in Mt Maunganui, was the local favourite.

The race lead changed on few occasions between these three top multisport athletes, as they fought for bragging rights and the national title.

An outstanding swimmer, Clarke swam the 2k swim leg at Pilot Bay in 24:35 to open up a small led over Berry, with Watkinson almost two minutes behind when they came out of the water. Amelia Watkinson then stormed back on the bike to lead the women’s field when they headed out onto the run.

Heading into the base track of Mount Maunganui on the first lap of the 21.1k run, Clarke was in the third position behind Watkinson & Berry. It was here where she made a decisive move, surging past her competitors to take a 10 second lead over Watkinson into the second lap of the run leg, with a further 20 seconds back to Hannah Berry.

Rebecca Clarke continued to attack on the remainder of the run, recording the quickest run leg of the day in 1:26:09 to finish two and half minutes ahead Amelia Watkinson, with Hannah Berry having to settle for third this year.

Clarke rated today’s victory as “her best ever performance in New Zealand.” While she won the title last year, the field didn’t include Watkinson & Berry, making today’s win against the best in the country extra special.

She credits recent training in Wanaka for her outstanding run performance today, saying “I have been based in Wanaka lately so have been running a lot in the local trails, which helped me round the undulating base track today, and my overall strength on the run.”

Another big change for Clarke over the past year is that she has dedicated herself to the sport of long distance triathlon, spending four months of 2022 abroad, competing against some of the biggest names in the sport.

Clarke will take the confidence garnered from today’s victory through to the NZ Ironman Championship in Taupo on the 4th of March. From there it is back overseas, with victory in the Tauranga Half a great kick start to her 2023 international campaign.

MALE PRO:
1 Braden Currie 3:37:47
2 Mike Phillips +2:50
3 Jack Moody +4:38
4 Sam Osborne +8:52
5 Simon Cochrane +10:47

FEMALE PRO:
1 Rebecca Clarke 4:07:48
2 Amelia Watkinson +2:24
3 Hannah Berry +2:57
4 Sam Kingsford +18:20
5 Fiona Gallagher +23:43

Mount Festival of Multisport


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