The last Ironman races of 2015 were held over the weekend, as both Ironman 70.3 Taupo in New Zealand and Ironman 70.3 Ballarat in Australia saw some impressive low-season performances.
American Meredith Kessler used her swim ability to take an early lead, one she would maintain until the finish despite the best efforts of Sam Warriner (NZL), in what is reported to be her final professional race. Warriner, two minutes back in the water closed around half of that on two wheels but would then pay for that on the run, fading to fourth. The fastest ride of the day belonged to Brit Laura Siddall, who finished in 4:19:32 just a minute behind second-placed Amelia Watkinson of New Zealand and a further minute behind Kessler.
Kessler and Siddall were the only athletes to break up the predictable Kiwi dominance on the podium, with all three men’s top spots being taken by New Zealanders. Men’s winner Braden Currie is best known for winning the Coast-to-Coast race in New Zealand, and is often cited as ‘the fittest man in New Zealand’. As well as his adventure-racing prowess, Currie further proved his triathlon credentials with an impressive win against a quality field, finishing almost a minute clear of Callum Millward in 3:51:48.
Australia’s Annabel Luxford was the class of the field at Ironman 70.3 Ballarat. Like Kessler in Taupo she led from the start, and finished 5mins clear of Dutch athlete Yvonne Van Vlerken.
Some pre-race favourites in the men’s race were notably missing from the podium, as Luke Bell suffered a mechanical mid-race and 2012 ironman World Champ Pete Jacobs was forced to withdraw due to illness. In the end it was Aussie Matthew Pellow who grabbed the opportunity for a breakthrough victory, holding off Germany’s Per Bittner and Nick Baldwin of the Seychelles to break the tape in 3:51:21.
What did you think of the results? Let us know in the comments!