Joanna Lawn Eyes Slice of History at Port of Tauranga Half Ironman

Experienced triathlete Jo Lawn is going back to basics in her quest to become the most successful woman in the history of Port of Tauranga Half.

Lawn will become the first woman to win the title four times with victory in Saturday’s 23rd running of one of the country’s most enduring and endearing triathlons.

joanna-lawn-triathleteAfter a helter-skelter, stressful yet rewarding 2011, Lawn is taking stock. She has returned to basics with a long base-training phase and a less complicated approach to the sport.

Following her win at Mount Maunganui last year, Lawn went on to finish third at Ironman New Zealand after she spent more than 15 minutes changing a puncture. She moved direction to concentrate on the 70.3 (half ironman distance) circuit, winning three times and an outstanding fifth at the world championships in Las Vegas.

Without time for a separate build-up, Lawn secured the final spot in the field under the new qualifying system for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, but paid the price for the lack of miles under the belt, melting under the scorching sun at Kona.

“I am doing base training right now. I haven’t done a base since this time last year. I am doing no efforts using my heart at all,” Lawn said.

“I sat down with my husband Armando and my running coach Chris Pilone and decided I should get back to base training which has been nice.

“Even though I have been doing it for 12 years, when you take time off just to race you lose that base.”

She has also given up a three-year trial on the smaller 650mm rims to the normal larger wheels.

“I feel so good on it. It’s unreal. The smaller wheels are another headache I don’t need. Let’s not re-invent triathlon.”

Lawn said she lost the chance of an eighth Ironman New Zealand win with her puncture, troubled to remove the glued tyre and with service vehicles not carrying the rare 650 size rims.

“And when things happen during an Ironman in the future, it won’t cost me a race like it did in Taupo. For the next few years I don’t want any more nightmares.”

Lawn has a pedigree second to none among current kiwi endurance athletes with seven wins at Ironman New Zealand and three at Mount Maunganui, one of her favourite stops.

“I love the race. The Mount is an awesome race and I always want to be involved with it. It is a really good title to have and I want to win it again.”

Lawn is ambivalent about the late withdrawal of rivals Samantha Warriner and last year’s runner-up Anna Cleaver.

“I am never concerned with who is in the field. This is all about my race and what I want to get out of it. If that is good enough to win that would be great.

“I know Michele Bremer had a great win in Western Australian and is coming down from that. There’s Belinda Harper who is coming up for her season and Christie Sym from Australia who had a great year.

“I am always looking to improve on the year before because every year you race at the same level of fitness. You can’t be too fit at this time of year because there are still another two months to Ironman and the big work for that starts after this race.

“I want to feel good and have a good race for me in the swim, the bike and the run. It’s a good check on where my preparation is at.”

Meanwhile Callum Millward will defend his title in the men’s field up against eight-time winner Cameron Brown and outstanding Australian Tim Berkel.

The race begins at 6.30am with the men’s winner expected by 9.30am and leading woman by 9.45am amongst a sell-out field of 1200.


Karl Hayes

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.