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Defending Champion Faces Returning Legend And Rising Kiwi At Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironman Nz

The women’s race is shaping as one of the best seen in recent years at the 35th anniversary Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand this Saturday, with a host of contenders from all corners of the world, including New Zealand’s own emerging star in Teresa Adam.

Great British athlete Laura Siddall (known affectionately by all as ‘Sid’) is one of three former winners in the Pro field and is taking her role as defending champion seriously at an event and place that she loves.

“I feel it’s a real honour to be returning to IRONMAN New Zealand as the 2018 Champion. There are not many times in our careers where we have opportunities like this so it’s a great privilege to return to race.

“But it’s a completely different year, a different and new start list. It’s also a completely different and new year for me. I come into this race with a completely different build up and so for me it’s a completely new day and race with no thoughts back to last year.”

That build-up includes a significant break in November and December for Siddall, but after a great block of training in recent weeks, the Brit is focused on a good performance rather than any pressure to repeat as winner.

“My goal is simple, to have my best day. To have my best performance and be proud when I cross the finish line. To continue to build on the past couple of years racing as an athlete and improve on my performances and give it my all.

“The key around Taupo is to stick to your plan but having the flexibility to adapt to the race situations as things happen. Having the confidence in what you can do and what you’re capable of in the race and keeping yourself in the game. Riding to the terrain and conditions and likewise on the run. It’s a long day and anything can happen.”

The return of five-time champion Meredith Kessler certainly has town buzzing, the American was unbeatable in Taupo from 2012 to 2016 before taking time out to start a family. 2019 will see her traveling with son Mak in tow, instead of being along for the ride last time out!

“There has definitely been a lot of changes in the past year or two! The last time I was here, I was running along beautiful Lake Taupo with a human being in my belly, unbeknown to me at the time.

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“One of the biggest challenges in 2018 when trying to come back to racing was getting my pelvic floor healthy enough so I could run properly again and then learning how to race while nursing Mak.

“My pre-Mak race routine was much different than my post-Mak race routine. I needed to get used to nursing Mak in my wetsuit 10-15 minutes before any of those nine races started as he would never take a bottle. It made me not even sweat the small stuff leading into a race as my number one priority was making sure Mak was set up for success before I went to work!

“Mak just turned 15 months and this will actually be my first race since having Mak where I am no longer nursing, so I feel like that is way less worry for me as a mom for sure!”

Not surprisingly, Kessler loves Taupo and the course.

“I love this course from the weather, to the town, the people, the country, the terrain, and everything in between. It has always felt like our second home to us so there is a level of comfortableness and familiarity associated with IRONMAN New Zealand. It is at a great time of the year when we can leave the winter of the US and play in the glorious summer weather of New Zealand.

“The clear, cool, blue freshwater of Lake Taupo, the tough bike course on the chip seal surface and the magnificent run along the waterfront is genuinely a perfect IRONMAN course! I will always talk glowingly about this race!”

Leading the Kiwi charge will be one of the IRONMAN stars of 2018 in Teresa Adam, runner up here last year and then winner of the Asia Pacific Championships in Cairns, Adam has quietly gone about her build-up in her typical low-key fashion.

“It does feel like it has come around really quickly, I had a good year last year in my first year so it will be interesting to see how I go this Saturday. Training has gone good, I have done my usual thing and kept everything fairly low key. I am excited but I don’t have any expectations, I still feel I am new at long course racing so don’t expect anyone to be looking at me with three previous winners on the start line, so I will just do my own thing.

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“Last year I had a really fun day out there and had such an amazing race with the support and crowd, it was so cool. I am looking forward to another fun day and will enjoy a road trip with my family and partner, it is always just a fun time for us.”

Adam knows that she might be a little more in the targets given her amazing 2018 that saw her back up her second at Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain IRONMAN NZ with a win at IRONMAN Asia Pacific Championships in Cairns.

“Looking back those results were amazing, and I am beyond happy with them, I would be for a whole career – those results would be amazing. I just try to keep it realistic, IRONMAN is such a long day and anything can happen. I try not to think too much about it and just enjoy each moment.”

The other past winner in Jocelyn McCauley (USA) is another genuine threat. The American had a stellar age group career and burst on to the scene with her victory in 2017 and backed up with a third last year. Her battles of late with Siddall have been incredible to watch and another classic encounter looms.

Others to watch on the day include another new mum in German Kristin Liepold, already a four-time IRONMAN Champion, the German will enjoy flying under the radar a little on Saturday.

Other Kiwi Pro’s on the start line include Rebecca Clarke, Mel Burke Erin Furness and Karen Tulmin, all hoping to put together great days on the 35th anniversary of the event.

The cannon will fire for the Pro Women at 6:48am on Saturday morning, with the winner expected over the finish line at the Great Lake Events Centre Northern Domain at approximately 3:45pm.

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