Home Away From Home for Kessler
Meredith Kessler may be chasing a fourth straight IRONMAN New Zealand victory in Taupo representing the United States, but a large piece of her heart will always be New Zealand.
The San Francisco-based triathlete has fallen in love with the country since taking the plunge and first arriving in ‘the land of the long white cloud’ for the 2012 IRONMAN New Zealand – a race she won by a victory margin of almost eight minutes.
“We had heard wonderful things about the New Zealand culture, people, wine & food, and outdoor beauty and it was everything we expected and so much more,” adds Kessler, who regularly attends the event with her husband Aaron.
Since then Kessler has ensured IRONMAN New Zealand remains a key date in her annual race schedule sweeping to further victories in 2013 and 2014.
“What we noticed right away is how New Zealanders and specifically, the Taupo people embraced us and welcomed us into their community,” adds Kessler, 36. “The ease at which we were able to assimilate into the country was much appreciated.”
Kessler an outstanding swimmer appears primed for a fourth successive IRONMAN New Zealand triumph and served notice of her current form by defying a bike chain problem and an issue in second transition to clinch victory in the IRONMAN 70.3 Auckland – in her latest visit to her beloved New Zealand in January.
Working hard during the US winter on improving her strength and core, hip and hamstring activity with strength coach Kate Ligler, Kessler “feels great” in terms of her preparation for IRONMAN New Zealand and would love to add victory number four which she says would be “very special.”
“When we were starting this journey, we never thought we would have the opportunity to win a race let alone win four in a row at one venue,” says Kessler, who also finished fourth in the World 70.3 Championships in Canada last year and was seventh in Kona in 2013.
“Triathlon racing takes dedication, skill, and a wee bit of luck – as any athlete would attest. To have this come together three straight times is a testament to the great support system around me and the stars being aligned. We will try our best to repeat this formula again.”
Yet whatever the outcome in Taupo, the gracious and ever-smiling American is adamant any triathlete should not miss out on opportunity to race in these shores.
“We have said before that if you haven’t competed in a triathlon race in New Zealand, you have missed the memo – it should be on everyone’s bucket list! For us personally, Taupo and NZ is a haven. It is a place where emails and technology seem miles away; the pace slows in a positive way and we can take a step back and breathe clearly for awhile,” adds Kessler.
Kessler’s five tips for athletes competing in IRONMAN New Zealand:
1 - The swim is crystal clear, smooth, and out and back along the shoreline. Enjoy this because the rest of the course won’t be as forgiving!
2 - The bike is a two loop, out and back. It is on chip seal, so times will be slower and there is more wear and tear on the tyres.
3 - On the three loop run course, you will have tremendous support from the crowds, yet don’t let the scenic beauty on the lake shores fool you! There are hills and false flats. Although the weather can be cool, the heat can come out in the Taupo afternoons so stay hydrated.
4 - There are some fabulous restaurants pre and post race. Bodyfuel (to-die-for banana bread!), Plateau, The French Cafe and Taupo Thai are some of my favourites.
5 - If you get to Taupo early, be careful riding outside the town because the roads are narrow and big trucks are constantly taking up a lot of space. It can be done but caution is key.
Bib First Name Last Name Category Code Country
PROFESSIONAL FEMALE ATHLETES
11 MEREDITH KESSLER FPRO B USA
12 GINA CRAWFORD FPRO B NZL
13 MELANIE BURKE FPRO B NZL
14 MAREEN HUFE FPRO B DEU
15 STEPHANIE JONES FPRO B USA
16 CONNY DAUBEN FPRO B DEU
17 ERIN FURNESS FPRO B NZL
18 JOCELYN MCCAULEY FPRO B USA