Amelia Watkinson notched up her first victory at Ironman 70.3 Taupo on Saturday, the race where she completed her first half-Ironman five years ago.

Text By Rob Sheeley | Lead Image By Witsup

The New Zealander prevailed by just over a minute from American, Jocelyn McCauley, with Australia’s Laura Dennis in third place.

A potentially toxic algae in Lake Taupo saw the cancelation of the swim leg a day before the race. It was replaced by a three km run before the usual 90km bike and 21.1km run.

The pace was on in earnest from the outset with Amanda Wilson the first into T1 after covering the 3km in just 11:06.

Four more athletes were within 10-seconds of Wilson, including Watkinson and Dennis, along with Robin Pomeroy and Karen Toulmin. Just 15-seconds covered the first 10 into T1 with the bike to play an integral role in sorting the field out.

It was no surprise to see Laura Siddall making the early play during the bike leg. She found the lead by the halfway mark and was in company with Watkinson and McCauley. In fact, a mere 12-seconds separated the top seven athletes. The different race dynamic without a swim appeared to allow the field to stay more compact with a large group remaining together for a long way on the bike.

It would be Watkinson who made the move in the back half of the ride. The kiwi managed to put 28-seconds between herself and Siddall with McCauley another 20-seconds astern. The leading trio had edged a minute ahead of Dennis in fourth place and it looked as though the winner would come from that triumvirate.

The half-marathon was an exciting prospect. The in-form Watkinson trying to stave off the efforts of Ironman New Zealand champion, McCauley and Taupo specialist, Siddall, who had almost ran down Meredith Kessler in this race a year earlier.

Watkinson wasted no time in opening the gap up to a minute after the first of three 7km laps, with McCauley and Siddall in close proximity to each other.

That margin remained similar after 14km with Siddall unable to stay with McCauley as the gap between second and third also extended to a minute.

Watkinson remained resolute in front with the lead staying very close to the minute mark throughout as she notched up the fastest run-split of 1:24:27 to secure the victory.

The win was the icing on a solid year for the Kiwi which included wins at 70.3 Bintan, 70.3 Philippines and Challenge Kanchanaburi as well as a host of podiums including 70.3 Mallorca and the 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship in Western Sydney

McCauley’s run was just two seconds slower than Watkinson and ensured that she comfortably held second place. The result augers well for the American as she prepares to defend her Ironman New Zealand title early in 2018.

Dennis pulled off the third fastest run of the day to force her way onto the last step of the dais in front of Siddall. It was the culmination of a great couple of weeks for Dennis who proved that her sixth at the Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship in Western Sydney was no fluke with a quality podium in Taupo.

Ironman 70.3 Taupo 2017 Results

1 Watkinson, Amelia Rose NZL 0:11:15 2:22:50 1:24:26 3:59:43
2 Mccauley, Jocelyn USA 0:11:20 2:23:36 1:24:29 4:01:01
3 Dennis, Laura AUS 0:11:16 2:24:44 1:25:19 4:02:24
4 Siddall, Laura GBR 0:11:20 2:23:12 1:27:14 4:03:00
5 Cross, Christine USA 0:11:20 2:24:51 1:26:21 4:04:03
6 Pomeroy, Robin USA 0:11:15 2:26:25 1:28:43 4:07:49
7 Wilson, Amanda AUS 0:11:06 2:26:39 1:32:49 4:11:57
8 Brown, Christen USA 0:11:45 2:29:00 1:33:43 4:16:00
9 Selsmark, Alise AUS 0:11:22 2:33:14 1:30:10 4:16:20
10 Grant, Julia NZL 0:11:17 2:34:43 1:32:19 4:19:40
11 Crawford, Gina NZL 0:11:52 2:33:05 1:33:13 4:20:39
12 Clarke, Rebecca NZL 0:11:53 2:34:13 1:35:28 4:23:07
13 Toulmin, Karen NZL 0:11:15 2:39:39 1:31:48 4:24:06
14 Wood, Laura NZL 0:11:28 2:33:07 1:41:57 4:27:52
15 Elliot, Rebecca NZL 0:11:22 2:41:34 1:36:15 4:30:43
Kiley, Renee AUS 0:12:43 2:31:41 DNF
Kraal, Indy NZL 0:11:21 2:26:22 DNF

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