Ticking off qualification for a home 2024 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Taupo next December, Wilde showed why he should be taken seriously over the middle distance with a fantastic performance.
In the women’s race, pre race favourite Amelia Watkinson of New Zealand reeled in short course athlete Natalie van Coevorden on the run to make it a clean sweep of the top step for the Kiwis.
Pro Men – Gun to tape win for wonderful Wilde
Leading out of the water after a shortened swim, Wilde exited with a small lead over Australians Joe Begbie and Steve McKenna, with seven others including eventual second place finisher Nick Thompson making the chase group.
Straight away on the bike, Wilde put his foot on the gas, extending his gap out to +0:40 by the first timing checkpoint at the 12.3km mark, as he embarked on what looked likely to be a lonely day at the front for the Olympic bronze medalist.
Continuing to build his advantage over the chasers, Wilde had more than two minutes over top quality cyclists such as Matt Burton by the halfway mark, with the short course star providing yet more evidence of his incredible strength on the bike.
Off the bike, Wilde was +3:39 ahead of second-placed Thompson, +4:09 ahead of Burton and more than six minutes in front of defending champion McKenna, who came into transition with a mountain to climb to get back on the podium.
Coming home with the fastest run split of the day by over two minutes, Wilde ran a 1:08:01 half marathon off the bike to win by almost eight minutes, as Thompson held on to second place and McKenna managed to pass Burton on the run to make his way on to the podium.
Ticket punched for Watkinson
Building a quick lead over the field in the water, Dutch pro Lotte Wilms and home star van Coevorden were first into transition in the women’s race, opening up a gap of +0:22 over Belgian short course athlete Hanne De Vet.
Out on to the bike, Australian Aleisha Wesley made up a +0:40 deficit in the water to get to the front of the race by the first timing chip at 12.3km, seizing the initiative early into the race to put the favourites under pressure.
With Wilms, De Vet and van Coevorden hanging tight to Wesley through halfway, the Australian struggled to shake the trio and whittle down the podium contenders, with all four eventually coming into transition within ten seconds of each other.
On to the run, van Coevorden was the first to make a move, putting 30 seconds over Wilms in the opening mile as De Vet and Wesley dropped off the hot early pace. Further back, Watkinson had moved in to fourth after coming off the bike with a +0:40 deficit.
Building a lead of close to a minute over Watkinson by the halfway mark , who had moved into second place, van Coevorden looked to have one hand on the win, but still had 10km of running left to hold off the experienced Kiwi.
Watkinson, who kept pulling time back every kilometre as van Coevorden started to struggle, had passed the Australian by the 20.5km mark and pushed on with no response, eventually winning by 40 seconds, as van Coevorden finished second ahead of Wilms in third.
2023 IROMAN 70.3 Melbourne Results
- 1. Hayden Wilde (NZL) – 3:19:29
- 2. Nick Thompson (AUS) – 3:27:28
- 3. Steve McKenna (AUS) – 3:27:54
- 4. Matt Burton (AUS) – 3:28:54
- 5. Sam Osbourne (NZL) – 3:30:21
- 1. Amelia Watkinson (NZL) – 3:53:30
- 2. Natalie van Coevorden (AUS) – 3:54:10
- 3. Lotte Wilms (NED) – 3:55:15
- 4. Hanne De Vet (BEL) – 3:58:35
- 5. Aleisha Wesley (AUS) – 4:04:17