By Kent Gray/
We’re still a year shy of Taupō finally hosting the VinFast Ironman 70.3 World Championships after all those pesky pandemic delays but you don’t have to wait any longer for taste of what is to come.

Saturday’s Ironman 70.3 Taupō presents as a mouth-watering dress-rehearsal with another chapter of the Hannah Berry-Rebecca Clarke show expected in the women’s race and a pro men’s field that is as deep as it is intriguing.

Sadly, there is no live feed from Taupō but the Ironman Tracker App will be in full flow and there is a finish line cam. will also bring you results and reaction post race.

Here’s what’s you need to know:

Braden Currie wins Ironman NZ in Taupo on March 27, 2021

Braden Currie’s late entry. The return of Kyle Smith for the first time since his victory in Taupō in 2019. Jack Moody’s title defence. Mike Phillips’ world champs course recce. The continued comeback of adopted Kiwi Javier Gomez. The incredible recovery powers of newly minted Ultraman World Champion Simon Cochrane and much more besides. What’s not to love about the men’s race?

There are two men’s pro slots available and with Smith, Phillips and Gomez having already claimed their World Championship slots, watch for Moody and Currie to press their credentials.

A last-minute decision to enter and lack of the usual dialled in preparation won’t make Wanaka-based Currie any less of a threat.

“Prep has definitely not been run of the mill, or standard. I wasn’t planning on racing in Taupō but things changed and I decided to race, with the main objective being to get an IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship slot for next year,” said Currie.

“The body is feeling good and I’m healthy, so I’m just hoping with a bit of luck I can pull off a reasonable race and get that qualifying slot and then the rest is up in the air, so you never know.

“It’s awesome to have IRONMAN 70.3 Taupō back on and I think the course has adjusted a bit which is exciting and it’s just a good lead in to the IRONMAN 70.3 World Champs next year,” he said. “It seems like it’s got a great field so that was definitely one of the exciting parts of being able to race, having Javier Gomez on the start line, Kyle is back for summer, Mike Phillips, Jack Moody, should be a really good race.”

Moody, who won Ironman 70.3 NZ last year in 3:49:18 – a whopping 7mins 50sec clear of Phillips who would go on to become full Iroman NZ champion earlier this year- also has next year on his mind. He enters Taupō refreshed after finishing 17th at the 2023 Ironman 70.3 Worlds in Lahti, Finland in August.

“I’m obviously super keen to get on the start line for the World Champs at home next year so it would be awesome to secure that in Taupō as it opens up a lot of scope of where I will race throughout 2024 leading up to World Champs,” he said.

“It’s been a massive driver for me after having a good race in Lahti this year, knowing that a bit more experience could land me very much at the pointy end of one of these big championship races. The first objective will be to qualify for the race and then it will be a case of creating a season with everything building to December next year to give a home World Champs my best shot.

“Winning IRONMAN 70.3 New Zealand last year was a dream come true. It’s a race I’ve always wanted to win and to finally make it happen in the fashion I did was pretty special and a memory I will certainly hold on to. I’m trying to act like it doesn’t add any pressure and mentally it doesn’t feel like any pressure just yet, more motivation for this year to prove it doesn’t have to be a one off. 

“It’s super cool to see such a competitive men’s field line up here this year. The goal is always to win, and it will be super interesting to see how the morning unfolds with everyone turning up with varying forms of early season fitness or hanging on to some fitness from long overseas campaigns.” 

Since winning IRONMAN 70.3 Taupō in his hometown in 2019, Smith has spent much of the past few years campaign in Europe. There was a tilt at Paris earlier this year but now it seems Taupō is the focus. His win at Ironman 70.3 Cork shows what Smith is capable of although he is coming back from injury.

“It’s a super early start to the season for me but I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to race when I’m here. I only came off the off season five weeks ago after my Achilles injury, but I think training has gone as good as it possibly could have in those five weeks so I’m excited to see how that translates onto the racecourse on Saturday,” Smith said. 

“Racing in my hometown is always a special treat and to win here is something completely special. That’s why I’ve gone all in these last five weeks to try and get that finish line tape,” he said.

Having already secured his World Championship slot, Smith is looking ahead to next December with excitement.

“When the World Champs were announced for December 2024, I highlighted that for myself as my main priority next year. Like I said before, racing at home is special but racing a World Champs at home is next level and I dream of being World Champion in Taupō next year,” said Smith.

So too, no doubt, does Gomez. The three-time World Triathlon champion, London 2012 Olympic silver medallist and two-time 70.3 world champ has won all three of his races since nearly a year sidelined by injury. Last month’s Ironman 70.3 Mossel Bay in South Africa earned the Spaniard his 2024 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship slot.

“I had a pretty rough year, dealing with an injury during the first part of it. So I feel that I’m ready to compete now. I did a few races in Spain, then an IRONMAN 70.3 in South Africa and now Taupō. It just fitted my calendar and it’s an iconic race that I always wanted to do,” said Gomez.

“My goal when I toe the line is always to win. I just try to race to the best of my ability to make that happen. But of course I am realistic and know it’s not easy. Especially in races like this, with such a strong field. I know well the top New Zealand athletes and I have a lot of respect for them. They are not only the best athletes in New Zealand but some of them are also some of the best in the world. So it’s definitely going to be a great battle.

“I don’t have plans for 2024 yet, I’m just enjoying racing again after over a year of injuries. I go race by race. After IRONMAN 70.3 Taupō I’ll put in place a plan for 2024… but I am super excited that New Zealand is hosting a World Championship event. This is my second home, my wife is a Kiwi and we spend part of the year here in New Zealand. So I personally consider Taupō also a home race. The IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 here in Taupō are legendary races, with a long tradition and history, so I can’t think of a better place to host a World Championship race next year.”


1 – Jack Moody (New Zealand) 
2 – Mike Phillips (New Zealand) 
3 – Simon Cochrane (New Zealand) 
4 – Javier Gomez (Spain) 
5 – Braden Currie (New Zealand) 
6 – Kyle Smith (New Zealand) 
7 – Nicholas Free (Australia) 
8 – Kieran Storch (Australia) 
9 – Mitch Kibby (Australia) 
10 – Calvin Amos (Australia) 
11 – Valentino Agnelli (Argentina) 
12 – Joe Begbie (Australia) 
14 – Brett Clifford (New Zealand) 
15 – Ben Hamilton (New Zealand) 
16 – Scott Harpham (New Zealand) 
18 – Jayden Kuijpers (New Zealand) 
19 – Damien McMahon (Australia) 
20 – Kurt McDonald (Australia) 
21 – Daniel McDonnell (Australia) 
22 – Josiah Ney (Canada) 
23 – Jarrod Osborne (Australia) 
24 – Sam Osborne (New Zealand) 
25 – Michael Tong (New Zealand) 

* * *

Hannah Berry will start favorite after her impressive 11th on debut at the Vinfast Ironman World Championships in Kona and before that victory at Ironman 70.3 Cozumel in September. That secured her 2024 Worlds slot.

Tauranga-based Berry won the last time Ironman 70.3 Taupō was held in 2019. She also finished second at Ironman 70.3 New Zealand this time last year, after the 2022 edition of that event, alongside Ironman NZ, was postponed to December.

“Preparations have gone well,” said Berry. “I enjoyed a bit of a break after the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, and so have really only done a couple of solid weeks of training since then but have been feeling good so I’m confident I can put together a good race for me. 

“It feels like such a treat to be back home and racing here in New Zealand. I had a great winter away training and racing overseas but nothing beats coming home and racing here.”

Berry also has added motivation to perform on Saturday.

“Having my spot secured already also means that if I finish in the higher positions at this event on Saturday, the spots will roll down to some other local athletes hopefully, and the more Kiwis we can have qualified for the 2024 World Champs the better,” said Berry.

“This event will be huge for us, I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to race a World Champs at home here in Taupō for the first time in history.” 

 Aucklander Clarke, who finished third last December at IRONMAN 70.3 New Zealand, is excited to line up in Taupō for a home race after a big season of overseas racing.

“I’m feeling pretty relaxed and excited to finish off the year in one of my favourite places in New Zealand,” said Clarke. “With an off season break post IRONMAN World Championship in Kona and having downtime at home, preparation has been quite short, but sessions have gone well in the last couple of weeks which gives me confidence and excitement to race.”

Having claimed her first Ironman 70.3 title on the Sunshine Coast in September to lock in a 2024 worlds start, Clarke has her sights set on a first victory in Taupō to cap off a strong year.

“I’ve never won in Taupō, I’ve had second and third places so to win in Taupō would be very special. The aim is to always execute the race the best I can and hopefully the result will follow. There is a strong Oceania women’s field and athletes at various stages of in season or early season, so it should be an exciting dynamic,” she said.

A host of young and talented Oceania triathletes, many coming from short course backgrounds, will be hoping to make their mark Saturday, including Kiwis Hannah Knighton, Angharad Llewellyn,n Deborah Fuller, Kiri Atkin, Samantha Kingsford and Heather Neil.

Amongst the women’s professional start list Sunshine-Coast based Dutch athlete Lotte Wilms, four Australians, Aleisha Wesley, Chloe Hartnett, Sophie Perry and Emily Donker, and Canadian Jenny Fletcher, will be hoping to spoil New Zealand’s party.

Wilms heads into IRONMAN 70.3 Taupō off the back of finishing third at last weekend’s GWM IRONMAN Western Australia and will be hoping the body recovers well in time to put together another strong performance on Saturday.

“The mind is very good, I always love to be on an IRONMAN podium. The body of course worked hard last weekend, but I have a great recovery nutrition plan and had some ice baths, spas and massages that helps to get the body recover quicker than normal,” said Wilms.

“I’m really fortunate that I already have my qualification slot for Taupō 2024 and don’t have to worry about that. A successful race would be to get a good feel for the course to prepare myself as best as I can for the World Championship next year,” she said. “I love to see the environment and the community. I have heard very good stories about the local people in Taupō. The lake looks amazing. I have heard the town and local people really go above and beyond to make you feel welcome.”   


31 – Hannah Berry (New Zealand) 
32 – Rebecca Clarke (New Zealand) 
33 – Lotte Wilms (Netherlands) 
34 – Aleisha Wesley (Australia) 
35 – Chloe Hartnett (Australia) 
36 – Sophie Perry (Australia) 
37 – Emily Donker (Australia) 
38 – Angharad Llewellyn (New Zealand) 
39 – Hannah Knighton (New Zealand) 
40 – Jenny Fletcher (Canada) 
41 – Deborah Fuller (New Zealand) 
42 – Kiri Atkin (New Zealand) 
43 – Samantha Kingsford (New Zealand) 
44 – Heather Neil (New Zealand) 

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