Outstanding Fields assemble for the 2016 Tauranga Half
Outstanding Fields assemble for the 2016 Port of Tauranga Half
The 2016 Port of Tauranga Half has assembled outstanding fields in both the men’s and women’s divisions, with many of the country’s top long distance triathletes set for the start line at Mt Maunganui’s Pilot Bay on Saturday, 9 January.
The event doubles as the New Zealand long distance champs, with current champion and last year’s event runner-up, Braden Currie looking to defend his title against a host of long distance triathlon legends.
Currie has fashioned an incredible multisport career in recent years, which has included three consecutive wins in the Coast to Coast, and victory in the NZ & Asia-Pacific XTERRA Champs.
He has taken this off-road fitness and form on-road with a 2nd placing in the Port of Tauranga Half last year, and victory in the Taupo Ironman 70.3 in December.
Currie beats the likes of Cameron Brown, Mark Bowstead & Graham O’Grady in last year’s Port of Tauranga half, and took the race to eventual winner and five-time world champion, Australia’s Craig Alexander.
Cameron Brown will be out for redemption in 2016, in a race that he has made his own for so many years. He has started most of his triathlon years by competing in the Port of Tauranga Half, and has won the event on ten occasions. His victory roll call includes seven straight titles from 1998-2004, and wins in 2007, 2012 & 2014.
Former top triathlete and Race Director for the Port of Tauranga Half – Armando Galarraga said “Cameron Brown is an extremely tough triathlete to beat. You have to bring your A-Game to the event and be prepared to swim & bike well, and then back this up with a 1:15 half marathon or better, to have a chance of beating Brown.”
Other strong contenders in the men’s field for the 2016 Port of Tauranga Half are 2013 winner Graham O’Grady, 2014 runner-up Mark Bowstead and rising star – Matt Franklin.
The women’s field will see a new champion crowned this year with three former runners-up, and last year’s third place-getter, all vying to be top of the podium on the 9th of January.
The favourite will be the rising star of the woman’s long distance triathlon in NZ – Amelia Rose Watkinson. After a layoff during 2015 due to a stress fracture of her femur, Watkinson returned stronger than ever to finish second in December’s Ironman 70.3 in Taupo.
She started the run leg of this event in fourth place, before a scorching 1.21 run leg saw her pass the experienced Sam Warriner and the UK’s Laura Siddell, and finish only 45 seconds behind US star – Meredith Kessler.
Armando Galarraga said – “Watkinson has worked very hard on her swimming during 2015, and this added to her outstanding run speed, will make her hard to beat in the 2016 Port of Tauranga Half. However, Candice Hammond is in excellent form, and Anna Cleaver, Julia Grant and Ashleigh Williams will be contenders.”
Hammond signaled her return to competitive long-distance triathlon after the March birth of son – Flynn in winning the Rotorua Half on the 19th of December. She was second in the Port of Tauranga Half in 2013, and third in 2014.
Another former runner-up is Anna Cleaver a kiwi triathlete, now based in Chattanooga, US. She recorded this 2nd placing in 2011 after an epic dual with Jo Lawn. Her strong swimming background should see her first out of the water at Pilot Bay on the 9th of January.
The women’s elite field is rounded out by last year’s third place-getter – Julia Grant and the promising Ashleigh Williams.
The Port of Tauranga Half is scheduled to start at 6:15am on Saturday, 9 January in Pilot Bay.