By Kent Gray/Triathlon.kiwi
In the countdown to Taupō’s long overdue return to the global Ironman circuit this week, Kiwi No.1 Braden Currie talked up the improvement of Jack “Texas” Moody in anticipation of battling the Aucklander at Ironman NZ in March.
Moody suddenly looks very capable of walking Currie’s big talk after claiming the Ironman 70.3 New Zealand title on Saturday.
The 29-year-old overcame a 50-second deficit out of the water and miserable Taupo conditions to win the 1800m swim, 90km cycle, 21.2km run in 3:49:18 – a whopping 7mins 50sec clear of Cantabrian Mike Phillips (3:57:08). Hamilton’s Simon Cochrane completed the podium in 3:57:58.
“It’s really special to get on the board here, it’s all the legends of New Zealand, so my name’s up there now,” Moody said after running away with his maiden 70.3 victory following an eye-catching second at Ironman Australia in May and another runner-up finish at Ironman 70.3 Oregon in August.
“I think I’ve done enough of these now, it’s so hard to win one, you can get on the podium but to actually get first just feels like that next step up and to win like I did today, even better.
“It kind of cements what I’m doing now and how hard I’ve been working this year and what I’ve thrown into the sport, and where I might go next year,” said Moody.
Moody went out hard on the bike to recover a 50-second deficit lost to Australia’s Charlie Quin but it was his work in Lake Taupo that set up his breakthrough win on Saturday.
“I can’t believe it, I probably had the best swim of my life, I thought the group had separated at halfway and I tried to swim across and I actually realised that I was the one swimming away from group two which was cool,” Moody said of his 24:22 swim split.
“Then I managed to ride the house down which was cool, haven’t ridden like that ever, and then really paid for it on the run but held it together and got the win which just means so much.”
Quin was closely followed out of the water by New Zealand’s Sam Osborne and French Polynesia athlete Benjamin Zorgnotti. The trio were quickly through transition one, with Moody nearly a minute down but in hot pursuit.
Moody rode hard to make up the gap and took the lead about 35km into the 90km ride. Behind him, Osborne fell foul of a drafting penalty while Phillips used his Tour of Southland stamina to power through the field to leave himself second by the Reporoa turnaround.
“I didn’t want it to be a running race between me and Charlie Quin, I was a bit worried about that, and then on the bike I also didn’t want any passengers so when I went past a few people I went about as hard as I possibly could for some good spurts.
“Then I think Charlie or Sam, one of them got on my wheel and I heard a penalty go behind me, the whistle blew, so someone must’ve got too close I don’t know who it was [it turned out to be Osborne], which is a shame, but it allowed me to get a big lead coming into T2 and settle in for a long run,” said Moody.
Heading into transition two, Moody held a four-minute lead over Phillips and went on to extend that out further throughout the run even if he paid some pain tax for pushing on the bike.
“It was so cool to be back [in Taupō] but it was a bit of a different course, so it did have a bit of a unique feel to it with even the bike course ever so slightly different, swim course feeling very different the way it went and then the run course being back to two laps,” Moody said after his 1:15:29 half marathon split.
“It gets pretty lonely out there so you’re just waiting for that crowd support coming into town because that’s enormous.”
Phillips recent Tour of Southland cycling and a 1:19:19 half marathon split helped him secure second while Cochrane, runner-up at the recent Suzuki NZ Standard Distance Championship at Tinman Tauranga, was pleased with his first 70.3 hit out of the year.
“First Half Ironman in a year, so I had no expectations going in. Good fun, full send – happy as! Strong across all three disciplines after a short build-up. Good signs for the summer of racing ahead,” Cochrane said on social media.
Osborne, eventually fifth in 4:03:02, was less enthusiastic after being pinged for drafting. It followed his recent sixth placing at Ironman 70.3 Melbourne where he was also stung with a five-minute stop-go penalty.
“How I feel about yesterday – 5th place in Taupo,” Osborne said on social, referencing his photo and the opening line which included a steaming face emoji.
“Seems I’m on a very steep learning curve or a slow learner. Today’s lesson was one on passes that gave me another ‘fun’ 5min stand down. The form looked alright just disappointed not to truly be able to race again.”
NUTRI-GRAIN IRONMAN 70.3 NEW ZEALAND – FINAL RESULTS
1. Jack Moody (NZL) – 3:49:18
2. Mike Phillips (NZL) – 3:57:08
3. Simon Cochrane (NZL) – 3:57:58
4. Benjamin Zorgnotti (PYF) – 4:00:24
5. Sam Osborne (NZL) – 4:03:02
6. Scott Harpham (NZL) – 4:09:25
7. Yoann Colin (AUS) – 4:13:37
8. Lucas Duross (NZL) – 4:15:12
9. Matt Kerr (NZL) – 4:20:48