Incredible Elite Women’s Field For 2024 Calley Homes Tauranga Half
This year’s Calley Homes Tauranga Half has assembled an incredible elite women’s field with two top internationals and two local legends on the start line at Mount Maunganui on Saturday, 20 January.
It is arguably the strongest woman’s field assembled for the event, which is fitting given it celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. On the Pilot Bay start line will be Ironman World Champion – Chelsea Sodaro from the US, Els Visser from the Netherlands, local multisport legend – Hannah Berry and defending champion – Rebecca Clarke.
Chelsea Sodaro took the triathlon world by storm in 2022 when winning the Ironman World Championship in Kona. She clocked Kona’s fastest debut time of 8:33:4 and became only the second mother in the race’s history to win the gruelling event.
Sodaro is looking forward to competing in the Calley Homes Tauranga Half saying– “I'm excited to be a part of the action in 2024. My goal for the first part of the season is to have fun and get inspired by racing in beautiful places. I think the Calley Homes Tauranga Half will deliver that!”
Another top international who will be Mount Maunganui for the event is Els Visser from the Netherlands. Her journey to becoming a top multisport athlete is remarkable one, and follows completing a PhD in surgery and surviving a shipwreck in Indonesia in 2014.
Surviving the shipwreck by swimming 8 hours to a nearby island changed the course of Visser’s life and lead her to becoming an Ironman. She entered her first Ironman in 2016, became an Ironman champion in the Netherlands in 2017, and finished 16th on her debut at the World Champs in Kona in 2019. Since this time, Visser has become a multiple Ironman champion and looks forward to being part of the strong elite field for the Calley Homes Tauranga Half.
Heading the kiwi challenge are two-time defending champ Rebecca Clarke and Bay of Plenty multisport athlete – Hannah Berry.
Rebecca Clarke produced an outstanding performance to win the 2023 Calley Homes Tauranga Half beating Amelia Watkinson and Hannah Berry in the process. She backed up this performance with a great 2023 winning the 70.3 Sunshine Coast event and placing 20th at the Ironman World Champs in Kona.
Clarke is aiming for a trifecta of wins in 2024, saying - “I love starting off the racing year at the Calley Homes Tauranga Half. It is amazing that the event is celebrating its 35th year! I’ve now raced in seven of them and have a lot of great memories from each race. Coming off the Mount track down to Pilot Bay with the crowd cheering is a highlight. I look forward to a great battle with the female field again!”
Hannah Berry is a two-time winner of the event, taking the title in 2019 & 2020. She was back at her best in 2023 winning the 70.3 Ironman Cozumel before an incredible 11th place at her debut Ironman World Champs in Kona. She also won the Taupo Ironman 70.3 event in December.
Berry can’t wait to be back on her home course saying - “It’s always nice to kick the year off with the Calley Homes Tauranga Half. This event is as local as they come for me, and I love getting to race with so many friends both on the course and watching, see you all there!"
Event Director of the Fulton Hogan Mount Festival Julia Tilley says that the women’s elite field for the 2024 Calley Homes Tauranga Half is “the strongest it has been in the storied 35 year history of the event. It is shaping as an absolute showdown on the 20th of the January.”
Also on the Fulton Hogan Mount Festival programme is the Pilot Bay Ocean Swim event, the increasingly popular Aquabike event, and the Pressio Mount Festival Half Marathon which has distances for runners of all abilities with 5km, 10km and half marathon options.
The start-line for all events is Mount Maunganui’s picturesque Pilot Bay. The festival is an iconic one for the triathlon and Bay of Plenty community, with crowds lining the café filled streets of Mt Maunganui to cheer on the athletes.