Exciting Ironman New Zealand Women’s Field Headlined by 2022 World Champion

 IRONMAN New Zealand is excited to announce that 2022 IRONMAN World Champion Chelsea Sodaro will be lining up for the 40th anniversary edition of Aotearoa’s iconic triathlon.

“I’m really excited, I came to New Zealand for a big camp with my coach Dan Plews, he’s been trying to get me over here for three or four years now and I think it will be a great start to my full distance season,” said Sodaro. “I’m really looking to enjoy this early part of the year and get some good experience with different tactics and racing dynamics, so it will be an opportunity to practice all of that and get in a really great competitive field.”

The world’s second oldest IRONMAN takes place on Saturday 2 March and will feature a stellar international field of professional athletes befitting of the landmark celebrations.

Joining Sodaro in Taupō are past IRONMAN New Zealand winners Joceyln McCauley (USA), Laura Siddall (GBR) and Meredith Kessler (USA) – with eight titles between them – and Els Visser (NLD), the reigning IRONMAN New Zealand champion.

Between them, the four former champions have won nine out of the last 11 professional women’s titles at IRONMAN New Zealand – dating back to 2012.

Five-time winner Kessler and defending champion Visser raced at IRONMAN New Zealand last year, while two-time winner McCauley and 2018 champion Siddall will mark their return for the first time since 2019.

In contrast Sodaro, who made global headlines in October 2022 when she stormed to victory at the VinFast IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawai`i, will make her IRONMAN New Zealand debut.

The American was the first IRONMAN World Championship debutant since 2007 to claim the crown, and a year late finished sixth at the World Championship to cement her status as one of the best triathletes in the world.

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On 2 March, Sodaro will toe the start line of IRONMAN New Zealand for the first time. The event – the oldest IRONMAN in the world outside of Kona, Hawai`i – turns 40 years old in 2024.

“I think what inspires me so much about IRONMAN racing is the community and when you have a race that’s been around that long, it’s the people that rally behind the event that really make it so special, and I’m looking forward to being part of that,” said Sodaro.

Sodaro will face stiff competition from a stacked women’s field that, along with the four former winners, also includes four-time Olympian and multiple IRONMAN 70.3 champion Barbara Riveros (CHL), and Kiwis Amelia Watkinson – who hasn’t raced over the full distance since finishing second at the Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns in 2021 – and Rebecca Clarke, a podium finisher at the past two IRONMAN New Zealand races.

“I love to compete against the best and I think that racing great athletes brings out the best in me, I go to every race with the goal to come out on top and it means more when you race really good athletes,” said Sodaro.

Having focused on northern hemisphere races for most of her career, 34-year-old Sodaro has spent the early part of her season Down Under, training in New Zealand over summer before heading across the ditch to compete in IRONMAN 70.3 Tasmania, where she secured her first win since becoming IRONMAN World Champion in 2022.

That victory in Hobart secured Sodaro qualification for the 2024 VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship Taupō – the first time the event will be held in New Zealand. With the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship to be held in December, Sodaro will bookend her year in New Zealand, with the race on 2 March a great chance to experience the Taupō course.

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“I really pride myself on my preparation, I’m super detailed oriented and I like to know the specificities of the course so I can prepare very specifically, and this training camp and the race will of course give me some insight into what the 70.3 Worlds might look like,” she said.

Should Sodaro taste victory on 2 March, she will add her name to an impressive list of global stars to have won IRONMAN New Zealand, including Kiwis Erin Baker, Cameron Brown, Jo Lawn, and Braden Currie, Britons Laura Siddall and Joe Skipper, and Americans Scott Molina, Scott Tinley, Tim DeBoom, Meredith Kessler, and Jocelyn McCauley.

31 – Els Visser (Netherlands)

32 – Chelsea Sodaro (United States)

33 – Rebecca Clarke (New Zealand)

34 – Jocelyn McCauley (United States)

35 – Amelia Watkinson (New Zealand)

36 – Laura Siddall (Great Britain)

37 – Meredith Kessler (United States)

38 – Barbara Riveros (Chile)

39 – Sarah Thomas (Great Britain)

40 – Ai Ueda (Japan)

41 – Kate Bevilaqua (Australia)

42 – Fiona Gallagher (Ireland)

43 – Kate Gillespie-Jones (Australia)

44 – Laura Dennis (Australia)

45 – Emily Donker (Australia)

46 – Regan Hollioake (Australia)

47 – Laura Wood (New Zealand)

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