Kiwi multisport athlete Braden Currie has claimed another big title on New Zealand soil, winning the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironman 70.3 Taupo.
Currie (Wanaka), a two-time Speight's Coast-to-Coast winner, dominated off the bike to beat a quality international field at the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Taupo on Saturday.
He held off fellow Kiwi Callum Millward and early leader Dylan McNeice (Christchurch) to win in 3h 51m 47s.
Currie, who has his sights set on the Rio Olympics, surprised many with a superb swim coming out of the 1.9km splash in Lake Taupo fourth in 24.33 minutes, just 50 seconds down on leader McNeice.
Currie was then first into transition off the bike and put the hammer down during the run to win by almost one minute.
"I was really happy with that. It was a great win and reasonably unexpected for me," Currie said. "It showed the gains I've made in training and that was really pleasing because I really didn't have a clue how I would go today."
Meanwhile, American star Meredith Kessler, a four-time winner of Ironman New Zealand, was forced to dig deep to hold off the charge from young Amelia Watkinson (Hawke's Bay) to win the women's title.
British athlete Laura Siddall was third ahead of Samantha Warriner, the former world number one ITU athlete who brought the curtain down on her stellar career in her new hometown of Taupo at the weekend.
Kessler won by less than a minute ahead of 24-year-old Watkinson,.
"That was by far the toughest race and toughest win this year. I had to use everything in my toolbox to hold Amelia off especially the last 5km," she said.
"My husband and I are instantly at peace when we touchdown in Taupo. We love this place and I am so thrilled to start the year and now end the year with wins in Taupo where we are supported so well is very special."
Kessler has enjoyed a stellar season with three Ironman victories and four wins in Ironman 70.3 races.
Elite men: 1 Braden Currie (NZL) 3:51:47, 2 Callum Millward (NZL) 3:52:37, 3 Dylan McNeice (NZL) 3:57:47.
Elite women: 1 Meredith Kessler (USA) 4:17:30, 2 Amelia Watkinson (NZL) 4:18:11, 3 Laura Siddall (GBR) 4:19:31.