A CLOSE FINISH AT IRONMAN 70.3 TAUPO
Brit Laura Siddall is just a ‘haunting’ eight seconds from victory
WHAT IRONMAN 70.3 TAUPO WHEN 10 DECEMBER 2016 WHERE TAUPO, NEW ZEALAND WINNERS MEREDITH KESSLER (USA) 4:22:36 BRADEN CURRIE (NZL) 3:52:45
Talk about ending the season on a high! Laura Siddall (On a Roll, p16) came within a whisker of stealing victory from seasoned champion Meredith Kessler in a nail-biting finish.
The Brit who had sailed under the radar during the swim, exiting four minutes behind the leaders, seemed to pose little threat to Kessler.
After shaking off Kiwi Amelia Watkinson, victory seemed certain for the defending champion who cruised along with a clear three-minute lead.
But at the half-way point of the run, and with blistering speed, Siddall suddenly became a serious threat. After breezing past Watkinson, she began to bear down on the American.
With every step, the plucky Brit closed the gap until she was literally breathing down her rival’s neck.
For Kessler, the finish line came just in time. She crossed, clearly relieved, with the Brit just eight seconds behind. Afterwards, the USA triathlete commented: “Of my seven wins here in Taupo, that was by far the hardest. Laura was so close, another 100m and I think she could have beaten me.”
It was a one-place improvement for Siddall, who placed third in the inaugural edition of this race last year and just missed out on the podium at Ironman New Zealand earlier this year.
She told us: “It wasn’t my best race. I was a long way off where I should have been on the swim and bike, and I knew there was a big door that was open to me.
“But if you’d have asked me a year ago ‘would you take second place – eight seconds behind the leader?’ I’d have said ‘hell, yeah!’ Those eight seconds will haunt me but will also motivate me a lot.”
Amelia Watkinson had to settle for third place on the podium.
In the men’s race, defending champion Braden Currie was also made to work for his second victory.
Although he exited the water at the front of the pack, by the end of the bike he had slipped back to fifth place. During the run, he clawed his way back to the lead, only to lose it again to fellow Kiwi Mike Phillips.
With just 5km to go, Currie made a final surge and crossed the line with a narrow 33 second margin. Former Australian Olympic rower Todd Skipworth completed the podium.
For more information see ironmantaupo.com