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IRONMAN New Zealand results: Steve McKenna and Chelsea Sodaro take the tape in Taupo

Chelsea Sodaro of America and Steve McKenna of Australia took the wins at IRONMAN New Zealand.

Staff Reporter
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With three podiums on the bounce, PTO World #11 Chelsea Sodaro has enjoyed a hugely successful start to the season in 2024 and capped off her Tour Down Under with a win at IRONMAN New Zealand.

Getting the better of Dutch pro Els Visser and fellow American Jocelyn McCauley, Sodaro won her first full distance race since her IRONMAN World Championship win and secured a slot to this year’s championship in Nice.

In the men’s race, following a last minute withdrawal by pre race favourite Braden Currie, Australian Steve McKenna produced a fantastic run off the bike to pick up his first win of the year and punch his ticket to Kona.

Sodaro shines with lightning quick run split

Following a second place finish at the Tauranga Half and a win at IRONMAN 70.3 Tasmania, Sodaro started the day looking to make it three podiums and two wins on the row to cap off a great start to the season in Australia and New Zealand.

Setting herself up well for a strong day, Sodaro made the front group of five out of the water, which was led by McCauley and also included long course veteran Meredith Kessler and Australian Regan Hollioake.

Perhaps fortunately for Sodaro, Kiwi Rebecca Clarke, who is an excellent swimmer, was a late withdrawal on race day. Clarke’s compatriot Amelia Watkinson, back in sixth out of the swim, led the chase pack at a deficit of +5:17 with Visser close behind.

Out on to the bike, McCauley and Sodaro were quick to shake Kessler, Hollioake and Chilean Barbara Riveros, as the pair opened up a substantial lead that stretched out to over four minutes by the halfway mark.

After a drafting penalty, Sodaro lost five minutes to McCauley between the 104km and 119km mark, but clawed her way back over the remainder of the bike to narrow the gap down to +2:54 entering T2.

Chelsea Sodaro PTO Asian Open 2023 run [Photo credit: PTO / Darren Wheeler]
[Photo credit: PTO / Darren Wheeler]

Out on the run course, Sodaro made the pass after 6km and never looked back, running a 2:49 marathon split to secure her slot in Nice and take a dominant victory ahead of Visser who wound up second with a strong run and McCauley who held firm for third.

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McKenna upsets the party with complete performance

From start to finish in Taupo, McKenna impressed and was a deserving winner, as he executed a strong swim, bike and run to hold off a solid field on New Zealand’s North Island.

Out of the water in the lead group of four, McKenna had a lead of nearly +2:30 over main rival and two-time winner Mike Phillips following the swim, as he came into T2 just on the heels of fellow Aussie Michael Boult and American Justin Metzler.

On to the bike, former engineer Phillips managed to reel in the lead group by the 50km mark, before breaking away after the halfway point and building a strong lead coming off the run.

Leading Dutch pro Niek Heldoorn and McKenna by over two minutes, with Metzler a further minute behind, the Christchurch native looked on course to challenge for a third win, but would have to hold off a fast moving McKenna over the marathon.

However, biding his time, McKenna played the patience game to perfection on the run, closing the gap by the halfway mark and building a small buffer between himself and Heldoorn, who moved past Phillips with 20km to go.

Impressively, the Dutchman actually made the pass on McKenna at the 32km mark, but looked to burn his matches a little too early, as the Aussie pulled out a final trump card over the last 5km to wrestle back the lead and take the tape.

Steve McKenna taking the win at IRONMAN Australia [Photo credit: Korupt Vision]
[Photo credit: Korupt Vision]

Securing his slot for Kona, McKenna will be joined (if they accept their places) by the hardworking Heldoorn and Kiwi Ben Hamilton, who late in the race made a move on a struggling Mike Phillips to get on to the podium.

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IRONMAN New Zealand Results

Saturday March 2, 2022 – 3.8km / 180km / 42.2km

Pro Women

  • 1. Chelsea Sodaro (USA) – 8:40:07
  • 2. Els Visser (NED) – 8:57:34
  • 3. Jocelyn McCauley (USA) – 8:58:23
  • 4. Regan Hollioake (AUS) – 8:59:19
  • 5. Amelia Watkinson (NZL) – 9:14:02

Pro Men

  • 1. Steve McKenna (AUS) – 8:01:13
  • 2. Niek Heldoorn (NED) – 8:03:46
  • 3. Ben Hamilton (NZL) – 8:08:13
  • 4. Mike Phillips (NZL) – 8:10:58
  • 5. Colin Szuch (USA) – 8:18:40
Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.

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