Current NZ Ironman Champion Hannah Berry (nee Wells) will only need to walk a few meters from home to take on a strong pro line up at the Tauranga Half Ironman.
Two time Tauranga Half champion Amelia Rose Watkinson will fly in from Melbourne to battle Hannah on her home turf. Aucklander and current champion Rebecca Clarke has also thrown her hat in the ring.
When asked how local superstar Hannah feels about the line-up of the 2023 event she said “obviously this is my home race and therefore I have a pretty special connection to it. The field we have this year is looking really strong which is great to see. I’m excited to race and have a great battle out there”.
Hannah will no doubt have the loudest support on course, but her components are not to be taken lightly. Amelia has become one of the biggest names in triathlon, and even though she is home grown kiwi, she has been based offshore in the Sunshine Coast for the past 5 years. Amelia currently holds an impressive 17 half Ironman titles in her crown and doesn’t have plans to slow down anytime soon. “I am in a good space at the moment. My
body is healthy, I’ve had some good form on the bike and I’m excited to make the most of some domestic racing”. Amelia took out the 2016 and 2017 Tauranga Half events but hasn’t raced the event for 4 years. “When the team reached out to me this year, I knew it would be a great race to get to. It’s always been a favourite for me, so to have the opportunity to be back is exciting”.
Rebecca Clarke is definitely not one to write off after her stella year on the world triathlon scene. The current Tauranga Half Champion spent 4 months abroad earlier this year racing some of the biggest names in world triathlon. “Having a really good race at Ironman Australia gave me a lot of confidence to start my international campaign. It was an amazing experience for me to size myself up against the best of the best, and actually come out pretty well. You don’t have as much pressure on yourself when you’re lining up with Lucy Charles Barclay and Anne Hauge! You can fly under the radar but also be in a position to be pushed to be at your best”. Rebecca came an incredible 8th at the PTO US Open beating out international superstars Kat Mathews and Paula Findlay.
When asked about her strategy to race against Amelia and Hannah, Rebecca said “would love to go back and repeat a win to balance out the score card with Hannah and Amelia (laughs). It’s awesome to have Amelia back in NZ racing and I am looking forward to lining up with her again. My plan is to be out the front in the swim and stay away on the bike. There might be some tactics if they catch up especially because of the undulating base track, but I don’t want to give away all my secrets (laughs)”.
Joining Hannah, Amelia and Rebecca on the start line are Samantha Kingsford, Hannah Howell, Fiona Gallagher and Deb Fuller. Festival Director Julia Tilley said “we are just so excited the event is attracting such incredible talent, and the women’s field is growing year on year. It’s definitely the line-up of the ladies”.
The Tauranga Half is part of the Fulton Hogan Mount Festival which will see around 2000 athletes come together to race across different events including the Pressio Mount Festival Half Marathon, AquaBike and Pilot Bay Swim. The January 21st 2023 race is looking to host over 700 athletes in the pinnacle event, the Tauranga Half which has been a staple in the Mount Manganui summer calendar since 1990.
Entries are available for everyone, so get on down and give it a go!