Race Analysis: Ironman New Zealand + The Triathlon Preview Show

Ironman New Zealand

Ironman New Zealand, one of the oldest races on the circuit, takes place in Taupo this Saturday (Friday afternoon in North America). With the cancellation of Ironman Melbourne both the men’s and women’s field are deeper than years past. Cam Brown is the defending champion and has won the race a total of 11 times. It is hard to bet against him; he knows this course and how to win in Taupo. He will be pushed by Terenzo Bozzone, who wants to focus on Kona this year. Bozzone has finished 2nd in Taupo, but he needs to have a solid back half of the run to have a chance for the win. Joe Skipper is coming off a disappointing outing at Challenge Wanaka (DNF) and will look to unleash a killer bike on the notoriously bumpy chip seal New Zealand roads. Other contenders include Cyril Viennot (6th in Kona 2015) Dylan McNeice, Callum Millward, Matt Hanson and Mark Bowstead (debut Ironman).

Meredith Kessler is the favorite this weekend and is going for her 5th win in a row in Taupo. She is the course record holder and loves this race. Taupo is like home to her. She will have more women to contend with this year including Amanda Stevens, Lucy Gossage (10th in Kona 2015), Carrie Lester and local favorite Gina Crawford. Most likely, Lauren Brandon will be out of the water in front and will ride strongly on the bike. Will Kessler take the race up the road like she did in Tempe, Arizona a few months ago or will she have company this weekend? More women on the start line could shake up the dynamics and make for an exciting marathon. Mark

Mark Bowstead

You did some training with Cam Brown. What advice did he give you about the race? Yes I trained full on with Cam, most days and I throughly enjoyed it. He has given me lots of advice about the race basically any question I had he gave me an answer, like when to start drinking the coke, eating more solids than in a half, pacing all that stuff.

What are you the most confident about? And, what is freaking you out the most before your debut Ironman? I’m confident all around really without being delusional. I’ve been very surprised in how my body has responded with the longer training all my long 6-8h brick sessions I ran well off which was really surprising. In saying that its still 42km!!! I guess that freaks me out the most but I also can’t wait to see what demons I face in the back half of the run 🙂 Lauren Bran

Lauren Brandon

What advice did Barrett give you about the Ironman distance? Regarding Ironman New Zealand, husband/coach Barrett said that it was either going to be a long day or a really long day. Just go out there have fun and stay tough. He said that the bike should feel really easy at the beginning and that last hour will suck. Haha. Looking forward to it 😉

You had a great race in Panama. Does that give you some confidence heading into this weekend? I am sure before Panama you were in heavy training but you still had a really fantastic race. I was really happy with 70.3 Panama, especially with how well I ran in the heat (for me at least). I was happy with how I rode in Panama too, but I am looking forward to riding faster now that I am on my new Ventum bike and because I just got done with wind tunnel testing, thanks to Ventum.

What are you most confident about regarding your first Ironman? What is one worry you are having this week? For my first Ironman I think I am most confident about the swim and bike. I am probably most worried about grabbing water at the aid stations with my left hand and not eating solid food or having coffee for 9-10 hours. Sad day. laura S

Laura Siddall

Do you think you might recover more quickly since the run was mainly trail at Wanaka? Or did the hills trash your legs a bit? Ha ha! Who knows really. Wanaka may by predominantly trail but it’s not easy as constant rolling terrain and a decent hill up Gunn road. That’s off the back of a tough bike where the road surface is slow and takes it out as well as the hills and the wind we had on the day. But feeling pretty positive about things and think I’m recovering well so far. Still 12 days to go right??!! Jocelyn

Jocelyn McCauley

You just put your name on the watch how fast I can bike list by having the 2nd best bike split at 70.3 Dubai behind Ryf, are your expectations higher after your early season 70.3 finish? That’s a good list to be a part of and one I didn’t think I would be on. I’ve been a runner my whole life so I feel like I’m having an identity crisis! In all reality though, Dubai taught me the value of attention to detail with equipment as much as training. I’ve always said it’s all about the engine, probably because I’m too cheap to do anything about the equipment! However I was able to partner with Quintana Roo this year and am now happily on their flagship PR6. The result being I was able to see how fast my engine really allowed me to go when I rode that in Dubai. Since then my coach, David Tilbury-Davis, and I have changed just a couple more things to make me a little more aerodynamic. So, are my expectations higher than Dubai? No, but the better question is: Were all my expectations on the bike met in Dubai?

You finished IMNZ last year in 9:50, the start list is huge this year compared to the 7 finshers last year, do you have any particular race strategy to put yourself in contention with the larger field this year? Something like don’t finish 40+ minutes back from the winner would be a good start! My coach has me fill out a race plan before each race. It covers everything from nutrition to negativity. Most importantly it provides me the chance to take ownership and critically think through all aspects of the race of my own accord (but with his guidance), we then discuss it to make sure I’ve covered all the bases and set my mind right. I feel as though this has been a key to the improvements in my racing. As my coach put’s it so eloquently in his English accent “prior preparation and planning prevents piss poor performance”. Let’s just say I plan to swim hard and not just count the golf balls on the bottom of the lake, crush the bike, and run like I have Matt Hanson

Matt Hanson

With a low KPR points total heading into the new year of races, does that put any more pressure on you with the first IM of the season? No, there is no additional pressure. If you are focusing on anything besides executing the game plan for that particular race, you are really missing the boat. Heading in to IMNZ, I am worried about nothing be executing.

There is a lot of history at IMNZ, why did you decide to head over to complete an early season Ironman? I need more experience racing and I want more experience traveling to races. It is also great to race against a few different people. The fact that it is in New Zealand is nice, but it really didn’t factor too much in to the decision making process. My original plan was to do IM Melbourne in March, since that was canceled, NZ was a logical fit into the schedule.

Ironman 70.3 Buenos AiresHeather L

Heather Lendway

You had a strong result in Panama against some top athletes (even leading the race off the bike). Does that give you more confidence going into Buenos Aires? Not in an arrogant way of course, but in a “I can race with these ladies” way. Having a solid race in Panama I’m feeling pretty good about where my training is at for Buenos Aires. I definitely feel more confident that I can race near the front on the swim and the bike, but there’s still plenty of room to improve.

The swim is Panama did not favor you since it was down current; always a bit discouraging for the front pack swimmers. The swim in Argentina is a single loop in a lake. Do you think this gives you a better opportunity to put more time into your competition? As a swimmer, having current-assisted swims are a bit frustrating but they seem fairly common these days so I need to get used to it. I look forward to the lake swim in Buenos Aires in order to keep the playing field even.

Have you done any training camps in warmer climates to prepare for these early season races? Or, are you just slaving away in Minnesota on the trainer for some heat acclimatization? I unfortunately have not been able to escape the Minnesota winter for any training. Since I work full time, most of my vacation time goes towards traveling for races so I can’t get away for any training. I don’t mind being indoors though, I do the majority of my biking on the trainer because it’s difficult to find a good place to ride continuously in the city. To be safe I do a lot of treadmill running over the winter but I also have access to an indoor track which is nice to change it up. Before Panama we had a good few weeks of near zero weather so I did spend some time in the sauna for heat acclimation.

What is the plan after Buenos Aires? I saw you are doing Major League Triathlon. Will you also keep doing 70.3s as well, perhaps trying to finish the season at Worlds in Australia? I wanted to race Panama to gauge my chances of qualifying for worlds. With the result I had in Panama, racing Worlds in Australia is definitely my main goal for the year. I’m planning to do some shorter stuff in April, including MLT and then plan to build back into some longer races in May and June. I wanted to race MLT because I thought it would be a good change of pace, something fun and great way to promote our sport and interact with other pros and age groupers.

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photo credit: Sunset at Lake Taupo. via photopin (license)

About the Authors

Zach Miller
Zach Miller is a sports enthusiast and age group triathlete living in the The Woodlands, TX. He is the Host of The Triathlon Preview Show. Follow @trifantasy The Triathlon Preview Show: iTunes Podcast
Emily is a professional triathlete and swim coach living in Napa, CA. Emily swam for the University of Michigan and completed her first tri in 2004 at the Chicago Triathlon. She worked for seven years as a paralegal, followed by three years as an Assistant Swim Coach for the University of Illinois-Chicago. Presently, she lives and trains in Napa, California while working for the Napa Valley Swim Team and coaching several age group triathletes.

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