A true veteran of the sport, Meredith Kessler has plenty of experience racing (and winning!) some pretty tough courses. Despite competing in over 50 Ironman events, she continues to learn something new every race. On the eve of this year's hotly contested Ironman 70.3 St George, we caught up with the defending champ to see what she had to say about her gutsy performance last year. Go get 'em Meredith!
As we approach the 5th year of St. George being offered on the race circuit and the 5th year I have had the pleasure of racing this course (3 times as a full ironman and once as a 70.3) - there is always something new to learn, absorb, adjust and deliver. Last year, "chasing Svenja" was absolutely the theme of the day. When she amazingly flew past Annabel Luxford and me at mile two of the bike like we were going a true SNAIL'S pace, we had to make the decision right there to just race our race and hope to catch her later! I know I had no chance to try to hang with her on the bike - she was humming like a freight train!
Coming into T2 about 4:30 down on Svenja, the thought process was to take it mile by mile and mainly, hydration and nutrition like a rolling buffet at every aid station. Oink Oink I know - but it was absolutely needed to survive out there and not pop like a champagne cork. I felt grateful to have known the trials and tribulations of this beefy St. George run course and thankfully knew where to hustle and hum up the longer inclines best I could muster. As the miles ticked off and I could see Svenja semi in reach up the long, dry, hot road amongst the gorgeous red rocks - it was the raw moment of pleasure and pain to try to go as fast as I could up to her to have even a glimmer of hope to make the pass. A risk that had to be taken in the moment. At mile 11, the TT effort to Svenja combined with my piggy like nutritional feast seemed to work out a-okay and the rest of the course was a downward grade to the finish! It was a risk worth taking and you always relish the days where the body behaves as a result of this mindset and risk.
I'm delighted to have the opportunity to come back to St. George again this year and have a chance to share the course with the MOST world class field of pro women that this race has seen yet. The "US Champion" title is back up for grabs and the person willing to take the most chances and "go for gold" will be the one to come out on top. I wish everyone the absolute best for a safe and happy race!
- Meredith Kessler