By Kent Gray/
Much more to give and so much left to play for. That was the pragmatic sentiment shared by two of the three Kiwis post Ironman Texas.

Even for Hannah Berry (8:50:50) who made a fantastic start to her Ironman Pro Series campaign with 4th in Houston to seal qualification for the women’s VinFast World Championships in Nice this September, there were niggly moments to improve upon.

Rebecca Clarke (9:28:45) meanwhile, was 13th after another trademark strong swim while Braden Currie recorded a head scratching DNF.

After skipping Ironman New Zealand to ensure she was as well prepped as possible for her Pro Series debut, Berry finds herself 6th overall in the series standings led by Brit Fenella Lanridge (6th in Texas).

“I came to this race with two goals. One was to get qualification for Nice and the other, I was hoping for a top-5 result. So ticked both those boxes …and also some pretty good points scored for the overall Pro Series as well which is good,” Berry said in a social media post.

Pro Series points – 2500 for a 70.3 and 5000 for a full ironman – are accumulated on a diminishing scale with a point lost for every second an athlete finishes behind the winners time. In that regard, Berry was happy to net 4,492 points in what was just her 5th full Ironman start.

Still, the Mt Maunganui 33-year-old’s day wasn’t without complication.

“… there were certainly areas of the race that I’d say weren’t my best. For example, the swim wasn’t great but it was good enough to get out in a decent group of girls for the start of the bike which was good.”

Errors crept in on the bike which proved an unwitting blessing in disguise.

“I managed to pull the straw out of my front hydration box and so I had to spend got a lot of time to get the straw back in which was holding me up a bit and then I made a wrong turn at one point and Jocelyn [McCauley] caught back up to me.

“In a way it was kind of good because I was able to follow Jocelyn back into town through quite the technical section of the bike course and she knew the roads really well so following her meant that I could get through that part quite smoothly.”

Berry recorded 3:09:06 for the marathon which proved “crazy tough” in the heat and on the hard surfaces. As she noted in her social media post, the DNF rate was a high 15 percent.

“It was a pretty hot day out there and I really started to feel it in the marathon so was taking my time through the aid stations. I started out a little bit too fast actually. My Garmin didn’t find GPS for ages so I wasn’t sure what pace I was running.

“Turns out it was way too fast but that’s all good. Had a bit of a rough patch at one point. My legs just started like they were getting beaten up. The surface here is really hard, the concrete, and so I could really feel my legs starting to, yeah, hurt through the second lap.

“Managed to sort of change up my running technique a little bit, tried to shorten my cadence and just sort of lower the impact and sort of manage to hold around 4:30s for the rest of the marathon…

“Overall pretty happy. It’s pretty wild out there on the bike course in terms of the wind and also very hot so the conditions were tough but, yeah, it was great racing, an awesome field to race against and good to tick the box of my first race of the Ironman Pro Series.”

Currie started Texas, which doubled as the North American Championship, 6th in the series standings following a promising start to the Pro Series at Oceanside 70.3 in Southern California.

But in The Woodlands, Houston, nothing much went right. By the end of the day, the Wanaka 37-year-old has plummeted 25 places to 31st overall.

“I don’t know why I felt the way I did on Saturday. I should have been on. I thought we did everything right into this lead in. Altitude [training in Boulder] always carries a bit of risk and it can be hit or miss when coming down close to a race,” Currie said.

“When you walk away from a race all you think about is the redemption you want to earn from the next one. And you feel gutted to let down your team, sponsors and everyone else that backs you. This is the hardest part.”

Next up for Currie is the defence of his Ironman Cairns title, and hopefully the second of the maximum three full distance points hauls that can count to his overall season tally. The duel Asia-Pacific Championship is scheduled for June 16.

“If I wasn’t Pro series focused I’d probably race next week as I know the fitness is there. But I am very motivated for the Ironman series and I feel confident that it’s worth the conviction. It’s great for the sport and I’m keen to give it my best shot.

“I’ve been lucky enough in my career to have raced really consistently but the last six months for no major reasons, I’ve been rocked with some big challenges in my racing.

“That’s sport. And I feel good today about the next round. It was a great race in Texas and those at the front raced incredibly well. Stoked for my teammate @dr_hannah_wells who came 4th. She deserved a great result.

“Back to NZ today to see my kids after a month away. I’m excited to be home.”

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