Kiwis Watkinson, Phillips take Home victories at Ironman 70.3 Taupo
An architect and a structural engineer are building impressive careers in IRONMAN after victories at IRONMAN 70.3 Taupo. New Zealanders Amelia Watkinson, a qualified architect, and Mike Phillips, who gave up his job as a structural engineer to chase a triathlon career, took the honours in the final IRONMAN event of the year.
A toxic algae bloom in the usually crystal clear waters of Lake Taupo forced organisers to cancel the swim, replacing with a 3km run. Both Watkinson and Phillips made their mark late on the bike, opening up handy leads on to the run and both held off all challengers for the victories.
Watkinson, a member of the BMC-Etixx Team, earned her third victory of 2017 over the distance along with two podiums including third place at the Asia-Pacific Championships at Western Sydney the previous week. As with all her wins this year, she had the fastest bike (2:22:49) while her 1:24:26 run was also best as she withstood the challenge from American Jocelyn McCauley, the current IRONMAN New Zealand Champion, while Australia’s Laura Dennis run into third.
Phillips, coached by Dr John Hellemens, has prospered in his first full year as a professional, winning IRONMAN 70.3 Bintan, finishing third in Vietnam and runner-up in his IRONMAN debut in Barcelona with a 7:52 stunner. He made his move over the final 20kms of the bike to open a one minute buffer on to the run with the only sub 2:10 ride. It proved the key while his 1:15 run was enough to hold off two-time winner Braden Currie, and five minutes clear of another Kiwi, Callum Millward. Currie, who found himself stuck in one gear on the bike, will regroup to defend his IRONMAN New Zealand title in March where Phillips is also setting his sights.
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