Photos: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for

By Kent Gray/
Hannah Berry’s long-awaited debut at Ironman Cairns has even more riding on it after her hot start to the Ironman Pro Series.

The Mt Maunganui 33-year-old has the chance to leapfrog into the top three of the Pro Series season standings with victory at what doubles as the Asia Pacific Championships on Sunday.

Hoping to back up from her eye-catching 4th placing at Ironman Texas in late April,, Berry is ranked third for Cairns behind two-time champion and course record holder Kylie Simpson and Sunshine Coast-based Dutchwoman Lotte Wilms.

“There’s a real range of athletes on the start line this year, from uber swimmers like Lauren [Brandon] to super runners like Kylie [Simpson] coming from behind. I think it’ll take a really good day across all three to win in this race and there won’t be room for much error,” Berry told Ironman Oceania.

Simpson is not only a two-time IRONMAN Cairns champion, the Brisbane-based athlete also holds the women’s overall course best (8:40:53), bike course best (4:40:41), and run course best (2:51:37) times, all set during her 2023 victory. 
American Lauren Brandon will return to IRONMAN Cairns for the second time after finishing seventh on her first attempt in 2018.  

“Being smart and sticking to your own race is almost always the best way to get through an Ironman and I think this will be no different.”

Berry will be joined on Sunday by countrywoman Rebecca Clarke, herself looking to kick on from 16th and 13th placings at T100 Singapore and Ironman Texas respectively, in a 16-strong pro women’s field. Braden Currie will attempt to defend his title in a men’s field boasting US star Sam Long, Brit Joe Skipper and (provisionally) fellow Kiwis Ben Hamilton, Jason Christie, Michael Tong and the highly rated Christchurch brothers Mike and Ben Phillips.

For Berry, the chance to compete in the new Ironman Pro Series with its US$1.7 million  bonus prize pool, has been a boon. She loves the format where 5000 points are on the line for full distance (226km) races with a point deducted for every second an athlete finishes behind the winner thereafter.

The world No. 31 scooped 4492 points for her 8:50:50 effort in Texas where she finished behind Brit Kat Matthews, Aussie Penny Slater and Wilms. It will see Berry go into Sunday 16th in the overall standings.

Hannah Berry

“The IRONMAN Pro Series has been so great so far. I love the idea of being strategic about races and also racing for every second,” said Berry who also sealed a start at September’s VinFast Ironman World Championships in Nice with her Texas 4th.

“I think the level of racing has picked up this year with more on the line in the series, and all the athletes are really getting behind it. It’s going to be super interesting to see how it plays out, particularly in the second half of the year when things start getting tight in the overall standings.” 

Berry is amped for her Cairns bow.

“I’ve been wanting to race Cairns for a few years because I’ve heard great things about the event and the course, but just haven’t managed to get here yet for various reasons. So, I’m excited to finally get the chance to race here,” said Berry. 

“I’ve heard the atmosphere is great here, and that the course is a nice one too, especially the bike course. I like a rolling bike to keep it interesting and I usually quite like warm races and this race has those two things, so I’m hoping it ends up being a race that suits me, and I enjoy.” 

Ironman Cairns marks the eighth stop of the inaugural IRONMAN Pro Series and the first in Oceania.

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