Success seems to breed in Hannah Wells' household.

Three people who set off for the 30th Tauranga Half from her Tauranga home on Saturday morning turned out to win their divisions - Christchurch's Mike Phillips was the first man to finish, Wells was first woman back and Wells' partner Nick Berry was part of the first-placed team.

The three are all friends, with Phillips coming up to stay with the couple for the Tauranga Half weekend, going over training and gear ahead of Saturday's race.

"This race kind of brings us together," Phillips said.


Phillips was the first person to complete the 2km swim, 90km bike ride and 21.1km run, in a time of 3h 49m 5s, and Wells was the first woman to cross the line, in 4h 13m 19s.

It was the first time the two friends had secured individual wins at the iconic Tauranga event - last year Phillips was second man home in 3h 55m 47s and Wells was sixth woman to finish, in 4h 37m 20s.

Tauranga's Hannah Wells had plenty of support at the Tauranga Half. Photo / Andrew Warner
Tauranga's Hannah Wells had plenty of support at the Tauranga Half. Photo / Andrew Warner

Berry, who completed the run leg of the Tauranga Half as part of a team with Sam Kettle swimming and Aaron Strong cycling, was part of Team Steel Springs Performance Coaching team - the first with a time of 3h 50m 16s.

For Wells, it was her first major win in her pro career and achieving that in her home town was a milestone for the elite athlete prompted by 12 months of consistent hard work.

As she made her way to the finish line on Saturday morning she was met with cheering crowds, ending her race with a big smile on her face.

Going into the race her biggest concern was coming up against strong swimmers in her weakest leg.

Rebecca Clark and Teresa Adam were first out of the water, completing the 2km swim in 24m 23s, with Amelia Watkinson and Hannah Wells coming out of the harbour together, trailing by 1m 43s.

Wells rode the bike leg with Watkinson, trailing by two minutes to Clark and Adam throughout the 90km bike.


Heading into final run leg, Wells gained some time in her transition to put a break on Watkinson before hauling in Clark and Adam. She hit the lead on the first of the two-lap course, and maintained this lead to the finish.

She was happy with every part of her race, with the biggest struggle "just being in the lead and not knowing how fast the girls behind me are running".

Phillips said his biggest hurdle in the race was the heat at the end, but he generally felt good at the end of it.

His win follows an impressive 2018, which included placing second in the Tauranga Half in January, finishing 5th at Ironman NZ, 16th at the Ironman World Championship in his first crack at Hawaii's iconic Kona course, winning the Challenge event in Melbourne, and the Taupo 70.3 in December.

He says the win is a good sign leading into Ironman New Zealand, being held in Taupō on March 2.

"The goal this year is to at least get on the podium," Phillips said.


Berry said he was trying to catch Wells so he could watch her breakthrough performance finish, but was unable to. Only narrowly missing her, a smiling Berry made a beeline for Wells and gave her a congratulatory hug.

Tauranga's Nick Berry about to cross the finish line. Photo / Andrew Warner
Tauranga's Nick Berry about to cross the finish line. Photo / Andrew Warner

The trio planned to celebrate the wins on Saturday before what had become a bit of a traditional Mauao climb for them the day after the event.

Next for Wells is Challenge Wanaka on February 16. It will be her final race in New Zealand this triathlon season before heading to Australia and possibly Asia. She has no plans of increasing her distance at this stage.

Tauranga Half results:

Elite Men

1st: Mike Phillips (Christchurch), 3:49:05

2nd: Jack Moody (Auckland), 3:50:58


3rd: Mark Bowstead (Auckland), 3:57:11

Elite Women

1st: Hannah Wells (Tauranga), 4:13:19

2nd: Amelia Rose Watkinson (Auckland), 4:15:12

3rd: Rebecca Clarke (Auckland), 4:16:19

Overall Team


1st: Team Steel Springs Performance Coaching, 3:50:16

2nd: Team Triple J Screen Printers, 4:04:25

3rd: Team J J & A Matthews, 4:14:04