Larisa reports on Ironman New Zealand - Taupo turned on a stunning day for Ironman New Zealand this year. On race morning we were greeted with glass-like swim conditions, minimal breeze on the bike and some lovely heat on the run; a vast contrast from the stormy conditions the year before.

This was my third year at Ironman New Zealand and it was a race I was very much looking forward to with a good summer of training and racing behind me. Race morning presented me with a few nerves but mostly I was excited!
I started the swim right at the front and got away to a clean start with goggles intact and not too much bashing around me. I settled in to a good group of swimmers and got in to my rhythm. The turn around buoys seemed to arrive sooner than I expected which indicated it was going to be a fast day. The beautifully clear conditions made it easy to stay in a group and spot the buoys ahead. I excited the swim in 55min, a massive PB (and a bit of a smile!) Mum was at the swim exit to tell me I was 3rd female out of the water.
I made my way to transition and on to my bike. A faster swim this year meant that I spent a lot more of the ride on my own with not as many age group men out there to pace myself against. I pushed it pretty hard and by the 20km mark I had passed the two girls in front of me and taken the female age-group lead. Fellow Avanti athlete Rob Dallimore came past me and it was good to see him having a great day too. The second lap was a little tougher with the wind picking up a bit and an additional climb on the second loop. I rolled into T2 in a time of 5hr 21min, a bit slower than I would have liked but still another PB.
I started the run feeling pretty good and was running with good form. However, the pace on my Garmin watch let me know otherwise! The new three-lap run course is fantastic for spectators and the whole course was lined with people. It was incredible to have so much support out there! I was passed at the 15km mark by an Aussie girl in my age-group. She was having a fantastic run and passed a few more people up the road. I felt strong throughout the 42km and although my pace wasn’t as quick as I would have liked, I held together well to the finish to take second place in the 25-29 age group and 10th female overall in a time of 10hrs 15min. To crack the top 10 was an exciting achievement and gives me plenty of confidence for the future!
I earned my third consecutive Kona qualification and will be heading back to Hawaii in October this year aiming for the top of the podium. Even more exciting was to see fellow Avanti riders Rob Dallimore also have a fantastic day and qualify for Kona. It sure is going to be an awesome Kiwi team in Hawaii this year!
Next up for me is a small break before a build-up towards Ironman Cairns in June. I’m excited already.