Kiwi star Kyle Smith kept a fast finishing Jack Moody and Kurt McDonald at bay in the final race of the 2023 IRONMAN calendar, as the versatile young gun secured his slot for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship next year in Taupo.
In the women’s race, Hannah Berry proved too strong for Lotte Wilms, who finished a string of races Down Under with a solid podium ahead of Rebecca Clarke in third.
Pro Men – Smith holds off Moody and McDonald
Leading out of the water in the men’s race was Spaniard Javier Gomez, with the recent IRONMAN 70.3 Mossel Bay winner joined by Smith at the front of the field in T1, half a minute up on McDonald and Canadian Josiah Ney.
Further pack, in the chase pack lead by Sam Osborne, some of the pre-race contenders appeared to struggle with the early pace of the Olympic silver medalist up front, with Moody, Braden Currie and Mike Phillips all at around +1:15.
Out on to the bike, Smith and Gomez were soon joined by McDonald and by the 25km mark had almost doubled the gap back to the likes of Moody and Currie, as the leading trio made an early break for the podium.
Unfortunately for Gomez, his race ended on the bike, with the former IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion making it to the 70km mark before falling off the tracker, with Smith pushing on in his absence and dropping McDonald to come into T2 with half a minute on the Australian.
McDonald and Smith were side-by-side through the first half of the run, before Smith made a decisive move with 5km to go and looked to have finally cracked the Australian, with the gap quickly growing to almost a minute and Moody passing the Australian.
Despite a fast finish, Moody was unable to reel in Smith, as the IRONMAN 70.3 Ireland winner picked up his second victory of the year, with Moody in second and McDonald holding off Currie to take third.
Pro Women – Berry good run leaves Hannah on top!
In the women’s race, a seemingly fresh Wilms led out of the water, despite having finished third at IRONMAN Western Australia less than a week earlier, with the Dutch athlete entering T1 alongside Berry and Clarke, with Hannah Knighton not far behind.
On to the bike, Knighton lost ground to the front three early on, as Clarke and Berry tested Wilms, putting +0:20 into her by the halfway mark but losing their advantage by the end of the bike, as the PTO World #29 entered T2 first, with Berry and Clarke right on her heels.
Further back, Knighton was more than five minutes behind, with fifth place Deborah Fuller more than 10 minutes further back, meaning that the podium was likely to be decided by the breakaway group.
On to the run, Berry immediately established a significant lead which just continued to grow throughout the half marathon, with the battle for second a highly contested affair between Wilms and Clarke until the final few kilometres, where Wilms started to pull away.
Eventually taking the tape by more than five minutes, Berry impressed with a 1:22:34 split after a strong swim and bike combo, as Wilms picked up her third podium in as many races Down Under and Clarke rounded out her year with a podium finish.
IROMAN 70.3 Taupo 2023 Results
- 1. Kyle Smith (NZL) – 3:44:30
- 2. Jack Moody (NZL) – 3:45:19
- 3. Kurt McDonald (AUS) – 3:45:21
- 4. Braden Currie (NZL) – 3:47:41
- 5. Ben Hamilton (NZL) – 3:48:24
- 1. Hannah Berry (NZL) – 4:14:59
- 2. Lotte Wilms (NED) – 4:20:30
- 3. Rebecca Clarke (NZL) – 4:21:46
- 4. Hannah Knighton (NZL) – 4:32:55
- 5. Deborah Fuller (NZL) – 4:35:46