The most dominant Ironman 70.3 athlete on the planet during the past six months picked up another win in Taupō on Saturday.

Radka Kahlefeldt (nee Vodickova), of the Czech Republic, emerged from the water to ride the 90km in close attendance with eventual third placed finisher Rebecca Clarke, of New Zealand, before running away to the title on her first visit to New Zealand.

The third woman out of the water was Tauranga's Hannah Wells, who was eager to give Kahlefeldt a run for her money after finishing second to her at Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney two weeks earlier.

Unfortunately for the Bay of Plenty athlete, her build-up had been hampered by illness and she was forced to retire from the race during the bike leg.


"After battling with a cold the last few days, I woke up the morning of the race and I was really wheezy and I have a chest infection now. It was the worst that I had felt, but I gave it a crack anyway because I was here," Wells said.

Despite not feeling 100 per cent during the swim, she was still able to come out of the water third.

"That wasn't too bad, but I got onto the bike and I had no energy whatsoever. I got three quarters of the way through the bike and my heart rate was a lot higher than it would normally be at that stage.

"It was getting worse so I had to stop. It was so frustrating, it literally felt like I was biking in mud. But, it is early in our summer season and I have to think not just about that race, I want to be racing well into winter."

For Kahlefeldt it was an incredible fifth win of 2018, but she was not feeling 100 per cent either.

"Normally I love the bike, but I couldn't find power. I pushed hard but couldn't find it as my legs were frozen and it took me some time to warm up. I think I wasted a lot of energy for the first 30km riding just to warm up and after that I couldn't push any more watts.

"I knew that Jocelyn [McCauley, of the USA] was chasing hard. I had a lead of three minutes after the swim and someone updated me at the end of the bike to just 45 seconds. I have never raced Jocelyn but knew she was a good runner, so I wasn't happy with such a small lead and didn't know what to expect going on the run. I was lucky I had the running legs today though, so that was good.

"[This] 2018 has been the best year in my life. Starting in January having baby Ruby, that is the best thing, then an amazing season which I didn't expect, everything has been amazing."


Meanwhile, in the men's race, Canterbury's Mike Phillips backed up his victory at the same event last year.

However, this year was all the sweeter after the 2017 race was effectively a duathlon, with the waters of Lake Taupō ruled out because of an algal bloom. There were no such worries on a beautiful day in the central North Island this year.

Phillips was delighted to have beaten such a quality field in a time of 3h 52m 56s, with Casey Munro, of Australia, second and former Ironman 70.3 world champion Tim Reed coming home third.

Canterbury's Mike Phillips on his way to a win at Ironman 70.3 Taupō on Saturday. Photo / Tim Bardsley-Smith
Canterbury's Mike Phillips on his way to a win at Ironman 70.3 Taupō on Saturday. Photo / Tim Bardsley-Smith

"Last year was a duathlon and wasn't quite the same, but to come back and do it over the swim, bike, run format is pretty cool. This year has been tough with a few injuries and a bike crash and having the pressure to race to get points for Kona. I haven't really had a block of training like I have in the past so to come here and perform like this is cool."

It was a four-strong train on the bike, with Kiwi Mark Bowstead joining Munro, Reed and Phillips to set a quick pace.

"We got away early in the swim and we were all similar ability. On the bike Mark was strong but not quite strong enough to shake us off. I knew I had to have a quick transition and run out hard to keep Tim in check because I know he starts fast and is a strong runner, I just tried to keep as close as I could for as long as I could," Phillips said.

The Cantabrian did more than that, resisting the early surges of Reed to eventually crack the Aussie with 7km to go. Even his race suit struggled to survive, a broken zipper leaving the 27-year old's upper body open to the elements.

"To do it on the run is special, that has been a weakness of mine for a few years, so it is pleasing to see it is still improving."

In all today saw more than 1000 competitors of all ages and all backgrounds compete and achieve to their own goals and objectives.

Ironman 70.3 Taupō Results
Pro Men
1st Mike Phillips, New Zealand, 3h 52m 56s
2nd Casey Munro, Australia, 3h 55m 32s
3rd Tim Reed, Australia, 3h 56m 12s
4th Mark Bowstead, New Zealand, 3h 59m 35s
5th Jack Moody, New Zealand, 4h 1m 31s

Pro Women
1st Radka Kahlefeldt (nee Vodickova), Czech Republic, 4h 20m 47s
2nd Jocelyn McCauley, USA, 4h 26m 51s
3rd Rebecca Clarke, New Zealand, 4h 30m 35s
4th Amanda Wilson, Australia, 4h 42m 6s
5th Karen Toulmin, New Zealand, 5h 1m