Tauranga's Hannah Wells has a game plan when she races at home this weekend - to stay as close as she can to the strong swimmers in her field and gain a podium finish.

Wells - a rising star in the New Zealand triathlon scene - is one of about 800 athletes entered in this weekend's Tauranga Half. The women's field has attracted some of New Zealand's top female long distance triathletes including last year's runner-up Teresa Adam, two-time champion Amelia Watkinson, and fellow rising star Rebecca Clarke.

The Tauranga Half gets under way from 6.30am at Pilot Bay and has become an iconic Tauranga event, one of the longest running and most popular triathlon events in New Zealand.

It is the pinnacle event at the Mount Festival of Multisport with athletes able to enter as individuals or in teams to complete the 2km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run.


Wells, whose last major event was the Ironman 70.3 Taupo in December, is looking forward to competing at home in this weekend's 30th anniversary Tauranga Half and knows all three women in her field are known for their strong swim.

In Taupō, Wells was hampered by illness and was forced to retire from the race during the bike leg. Since then she has been working on getting back to full health and putting in extra focus to improve her swim, which she describes as her weakness.

And being local, she has an advantage of being able to train on the race's course, which she has been making the most of.

She doesn't want to fall too far behind them in the swim leg because that will mean having to make up for it in the bike and run legs so she will be working hard to stay as close to them as she can.

"Three of the girls are known to be really good swimmers, I am quite nervous for the swim ... I'm pretty confident in my run," she said.

This year is Wells' second competing in the Tauranga Half and is hoping to complete the event is about four hours and 20 minutes or less if possible. No matter what though, she has a podium finish goal.

The Tauranga Half is just one of the events being held as part of the festival Mount Festival of Multisport. Others include the Mount Run, Enduro and Höpt Soda AquaBike.

General manager Lauren Watson said she was expecting about 1500 entrants across all events, with between 700 and 800 of those entrants coming for the Tauranga Half.


Among them, Watson says, is New Zealand Olympian Andrea Hewitt, who is "coming down to compete".

On top of the entrant numbers, she says crowds of about 20,000 are likely to turn out to support the athletes and the event itself.

"We hope it's going to be a really good vibe."

"This year's Mount Festival includes the hallmark Tauranga Half, the Enduro long distance triathlon, the Hopt Soda Aquabike, Mount Run, Athletes expo, and other iconic summer events such as the Mount Maunganui Beach Volleyball Open."

Four-time champ Jo Lawn may not be competing but she is now a board member and has played a part in the running of the event for about four years now because it's an event she loves.

"It's just a great race to be involved in ... great location, the Mount is awesome. Everyone's cheering you on."


She was excited to watch this year's field, expecting a "real good battle".

Mount Festival of Multisport:

Friday, January 11:

2:30-6pm: Registration and Athletes Expo, Mount Maunganui Sports Centre.

4-9pm: The Street Food Union, Coronation Park.

Saturday, January 12:

6am–5pm: Enduro, Pilot Bay.


6:35am-4pm: Tauranga Half, Pilot Bay.

8am-1pm: Hopt Soda Aquabike, Pilot Bay.

9am-4:30pm: Mount Maunganui Beach Volleyball Open Main Beach.

2pm-4pm: Mount Run, Pilot Bay.

6pm: Prizegiving, Coronation Park.

Sunday, January 13:


9am-4:30pm: Mount Maunganui Beach Volleyball Open Main Beach.