Race report by Rosemary and Annette Nilsson

Taupo Sign.jpg

Ironman New Zealand 70.3 at Taupo (‘Toe Paw’) is a fabulous event.  There are 3 or 4 times more competitors for the full Ironman than the 70.3. 

Lake Taupo is a caldera (collapsed super-volcano).  Whilst geologically listed as ‘dormant’ (the last eruption being about 1800 years ago) it has produced some of the most violent eruptions in earth’s history and forms part of a number of volcanic peaks in the area that have shaped the surrounding landscape.

There are not enough adjectives to describe the scenery.  But over and above the scenery there are not enough words for the crowd and volunteers and the support they give.  There are masses of volunteers at the aid stations.  There are supporters lining each stage of the course.  There are people saying how proud they are of you and how strong you are looking (even though you probably don’t look it and definitely don’t feel it).  There are the IM bells and Didymo Dave (a bit of a legend for IM Taupo) banging on his saucepan.

There is a Maori welcome and blessing of the lake before the IM start and the Maori’s paddling from the lake down the Waikato River in a longboat.  The Ironman race starts before the 70.3. 

The swim has a mass deep water start and you self-seed.  The lake is quite shallow for a fair bit out so you can start touching the bottom if you want to.  In the 70.3, with fewer competitors, there is heaps of space (except if you are at the front) to find your spot and avoid elbows and kicks.  Each start begins with a shot from an artillery gun and you’re off with a very loud bang. 

The lake is crystal clear and you can see the bottom the entire course.  Look for the golf balls on the bottom that get hit from the lake foreshore to a ‘hole in one’ pontoon.  On race day we had beautiful conditions in the water.  We were shivering on the bank (Net had her jumper on over her wetsuit) and our feet were freezing without shoes and were bracing ourselves for frosty water.  We were very pleasantly surprised with the water temperature.  Water was perfect temperature and not choppy.  The swim for 70.3 and the Ironman is an out and back.  The ‘back’ is faster with the wind with you.  You exit the water after swimming 450m up the Waikato River at the boat ramp and a 400m run (plus stairs, well it is NZ) to T1.

Uncertain of how cold it would be after the swim we had plenty of extra clothes (bike shirt, sun sleeves, gloves) at T1 but didn’t need it.  The bike course for the 70.3 is an out and back to Reporoa.  There is a hill at the start (known as ‘heartbreak hill’ to the IM competitors as they do it twice).  There is beautiful scenery, a plane in a paddock, what looks like a nuclear power station and after the first hill it is fairly downhill to Reporoa. 

But Tāwhirimātea (Maori god of weather, including wind) who is known for being angry, was either cranky or having some ‘fun’ with crazy IM athletes and created a head wind and cross wind for the ride home.  We were so grateful on the ride that we weren’t doing the full IM.  As one of the IM signs said ‘It’s just a hill, get over it.’  That plus the wind sums up most of the ride home.  Spin up the hills and you are fine.  The last few kilometres to Taupo are downhill and quick and gets you into T2 feeling good.  Two stages done and one to go. 

The run for the 70.3 is a 2 lap course mostly along the foreshore of Lake Taupo, plus hills (well it is NZ).  Harder to enjoy the scenery at this point but definitely a welcome distraction when you are in the pain cave.  If you look out across the lake you can see Mt Ruapehu and Mount Ngauruhoe (both active volcanoes). 


But you can’t beat the feeling of that red carpet under your feet.  What a feeling!!

It was fun being on course with the pro athletes who were lapping us on the run.  We saw Jocelyn McCcauley (USA) set a new women’s record in the IM of 8.53.  So the wind didn’t seem to bother her!

After the event you can enjoy the rest of what Taupo and NZ has to offer.  You could do a tandem bungy jump like pros Meredith Kessler and Laura Siddall.  Or do what we did and head out to the hot springs and alternate from the hot pools to the freezing cold of the Waikato River.  Try swimming upstream against the flow of the river and you are swimming on the spot as the current is so strong.

Lake 2.jpg

Taupo is a destination racing event and definitely worth considering for your IM calendar.  Our tips for Ironman NZ 70.3:

  1. Train for hills on the ride and the run.

  2. There is a street gear bag drop at the swim start, so take water, jumpers and shoes down with you so you can stay hydrated and warm.

  3. Soak up the scenery at all stages it helps you get through.

  4. Spin up the hills on the ride – just gotta get over them.

  5. Not all roads are closed on the ride – be careful and aware of traffic – we saw a couch fall out of the back of a ute and land smack bang in the middle of the lane of traffic.

  6. Don’t under estimate the NZ sun.  The UV is strong so apply and reapply sunscreen.  There is sunscreen at the aid stations and volunteers can help apply.

  7. When giving high fives (or side fives) to others be careful of the road and gutter level as there is a drop – Net almost rolled an ankle by concentrating on getting a good high five rather than the road.  We decided on thumbs up as safer support after that.

  8. Listen to your coach.

  9. Smile heaps and thank the crowd and volunteers – they are awesome.

  10. Have fun.

Nikki Giles
Kids TRY-Triathlon - Tips for Kids & their Supporters
The water start

The water start


  • Make sure your child is registered online;

  • Check out the maps to review the course;

  • Talk about the course – what are they going to expect - head on down to the lagoon and take a dip and look around;

  • Prepare your kids for the run with a practice encouraging slightly shorter strides, being relaxed and breathing out during the run;      

  • If your little one is riding (triathlon);

    • Practice riding the iconic Blue Water Trail with them;

    • Practice riding the distance with your kids and instruct to stay on the left side unless they are passing;

    • Check that their bike seat is the right height, tyres are inflated, chain is in good working order and that they can manage the brakes;

  • Practice putting shoes on/off and buckling helmets with wet feet and hands a few times Elastic shoe laces or Velcro sneakers help the kids transition with ease;

  • Allow them to be independent. Remember you won’t be able to help them in the transition area on the day, talk to them about how they will be able to do it by themselves, they are AWESOME!

PREPARATION – The Night Before (take away the stress on the day!) 

  • Pack the night before with your child;

  • Check their equipment:

  • Goggles fit;

  • Bike tyres are pumped up;

  • Chain is clean and on properly;

  • Helmet fits perfectly – every child must wear a helmet; 

  • Fill up water bottles;

  • Shirt for the ride (torso is to be covered - tri suit or rashie is accepted;

  • Sneakers match and packed.

RACE DAY - 23rd February


  • Arrive between 7.15am and 7.30am to register;

  • Register and receive a coloured hand band;

  • Help your kids set-up their transition area;

  • A good warm up prior to the swim start is a must - Coaches Mini and Alix will be helping the kids warm up at 7.50am! 

AQUATHON – 5-6 YEARS / 7-9 YEARS / 10-12 YEARS

  • Find a spot that is easy for your child to locate their shoes and hat after the swim;

  • Arrange running shoes, hat and water bottle (encourage to only have a sip before their run);

  • Spend some time to show your kids where the exit gate is so they know where to go for the run. 


  • Find a spot on the racks for the bike that is easy for your child to locate when running from the lagoon area;

  • Arrange shirt (if not worn in the swim - we recommend sun shirt or tri-suit), helmet, running shoes and water bottle (encourage to only have a sip before the ride and the run);

  • Spend some time showing your child where the exit and entry is for the bike course and the running course so they know where to go;

  • Provide tips on how your child can find their bike after the swim (you won’t be there to help them during the race) - All the bikes look the same after a swim;

  • Shirts on and helmets done up before touching the bike;

  • Kids must walk their bike to the entry point clearly marked before getting on their bikes;

  • They are to dismount at the clearly marked area and walk their bike to the same position on the rack.

The Bike Course

The bike course can be daunting as all the young triathletes are on the course at the same time (age group). Kids typically will go hard and quickly exhaust themselves, encourage them to ease into the ride to reduce and control stress;

  • Kids must be cautious and safe on the bike course at all times: 

    • Stay to the left – kids must stay to the left of the path (unless every overtaking);

    • When passing – it is encouraged that kids tell the rider in front of them that they are going to do so – pass and then move back to the left of the path; 

    • Being passed - they must maintain the same speed so the rider can pass and move back to the left side of the path; 

  • If your child needs to stop instruct them to pull off on the left side of the path;

  • If their chain falls off or a tyre goes flat on the course – do not panic – we will have a volunteer rider who will assist them and get them back in the fun.

The Run Course

The bike to run is tough for new triathletes. Even good runners struggle to run well after riding. The last stages of the triathlon run are mentally and physically difficult. With a swim in the arms and a bike ride in the legs, finishing off the run will test your little ones to push through.

The Finish Line

Encourage your child. The mental components are hard to teach but encouragement in the form of finishing and feeling good about themselves is paramount! 

Celebrate their finish! This is an amazing experience for them! They are a TRIATHLETE!!!

Nikki GilesBluewater Lagoon
TreX Cross Triathlon - 27 October 2018

TreX Cross Triathlon is an emerging sport that is combining adventure racing and triathlon. TreX Cross Triathlon challenges its participants to get off road and last weekend it provided the ultimate challenge for our Tri-ActiV8 athletes. This race also doubled as the QLD State Championships and attracted roughly 160 competitors to compete in a number of course options. Courses on offer were the Standard & Sprint distances for Triathlon, Duathlon and an emerging category - Aquabike.  All ages were catered for and there something for everyone.  Ewen Maddock Dam surrounded by subtropical ferny forest was the perfect back-drop for the event.  


Nikki, Cara, Jose and Kelly raced in the Standard Distance Triathlon category which included an 1000m swim, 19km MTB and 7km trail run. Kicking off with the swim, the course was 2 X 500m laps of the dam, with a short run separating the start of the 2nd lap. Athletes then set-off through a well marked MTB course through flowing trails and pinchy fire-roads that allowed for quick overtaking.  The 19km bike leg included 2 laps of the trails with athletes completing a U-Turn back at transition. Once off the bike and through transition to the run, athletes had 2 loops of the run course passing by transition several times through-out the 3.5km loop (athletes were never too far from race HQ).  The run was the highlight with a combination of technical terrain with weaving and ducking through tight trail and muddy floors. Giant curious goannas kept us entertained as they ran through the leafy forest beneath our feet.  

Our Tri-ActiV8 athletes had a strong race and came home with two podium finishes – Kelly 3rd 35-39 Females and coach Nikki 2nd 40-44 Females. Cara and Jose produced stellar efforts, both just shy of the podium, placing 4th in their respective categories.

Well done to In2Adventure for turning on a well-organised professional event.  From registration through to race logistics of navigation, course markings and marshals on course, to finishing off with wood-fired pizzas and cold-frappes.  Our athletes all highly rate this event and will be back for more in 2019 – 27 April to be exact... this time followed up with the Sunshine Coast MTB Festival on the 28 April.  A longer stay next time is a must!  

Nikki Giles