Mccauley and Siddall set for another fascinating duel
All signs point to another great battle between top seeds Jocelyn McCauley (USA) and Laura Siddall (GBR) when the cannon goes to start the 34thedition of Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New Zealand at Lake Taupo on Saturday morning.
First and second respectively in 2017, both have strong connections to New Zealand and will divide loyalties around the course, with McCauley recalling childhood memories of the region, long before she dreamed she might spend a day swimming, biking and running her way into the hearts of the locals.
“There is a peace that I always have when I land in Taupo. Taupo and New Zealand hold a special place in my heart. I fell in love with the region as a 12-year-old when my parents brought us here to explore. I then fell in love with the race itself when I made my debut as a pro athlete here. This race has the most community support of any race I have been to, hands down. I don’t race or train on Sunday’s, so I also appreciate that it is one of the non-Sundayraces out there.”
McCauley knows she will race under a different kind of pressure as defending champion but is not changing her approach in any way.
“I don’t think you should mentally treat any race differently. It’s always about focusing on the process to get the outcome that I am best capable of. That’s always the biggest objective, focus on the process and keep improving. Winning is great of course, we all want to win, but winning takes care of itself if we keep improving and focusing on what is controllable.”
Great Britain’s Siddall also has a liking for New Zealand, so much so that she is considering options to make her visits a little more official.
“Funnily enough I am looking at visas at the moment, I am on an Australian permanent residency, but it doesn’t last much longer, so I am looking at other options of trying to get a visa in New Zealand, so it gives me more options to come and go.
“I love it over here. I base myself in Christchurch over the Southern Hemisphere summer from November to mid-May, I love the training, it is easy, convenient, you can ride and run from your door and everything is accessible with lots of swimming options. I love the people down here and the lifestyle. It has just worked for me as an option for the summer here,” said Siddall.
McCauley meanwhile is coming off a good training block but knows that IRONMAN can throw anything at you at any time and is prepared to face down adversity.
“I’ve been training at our new home in Boise, Idaho. Just like any build into a race I’ve had my ups and downs but it’s the consistency and perseverance that matters the most in training. I came here to defend my title and have done everything I can to be prepared for that on race day.”
The 29-year-old American is expecting a different race to unfold in the absence of anyone who might tear the swim course apart.
“The race is always different depending on the conditions and the field. There aren’t any amazing swimmers that I know of, like Meredith (Kessler), in the field this year. My swim form has drastically improved from last year and I was able show some of that in Kona and will be looking for a fast swim no matter the water conditions.
“I have yet to execute a good IRONMAN bike, so I hope to be able to on race day. The run is my jam and happy place, so I always look forward to that portion of the race. I especially love running in Taupo because of how much this town comes out and supports the race. I always draw on them for energy!”
Siddall takes a similar view to McCauley into the race, focusing first on herself and what she can control, while also knowing what is happening around her.
“Yes, you have to have half an eye on your competitors and react to them, but I came off the bike in a pack of five in the lead and I knew on paper the rest were faster runners than me, they set off at what seemed like a bat out of hell and I thought I was running pretty well but just not at their pace. At that point it was about sticking to the plan and keeping rhythm with three odd hours of marathon to go. But that is the beauty of long distance racing, you never quite know what is going to happen, even when you get to the run, but I managed to claw my way up to second.”
The other contenders include the experienced Australian Kate Bevilaqua and a relative novice in her countrywoman Jessica Mitchell. 40-year-old Bevilaqua married Kiwi pro Guy Crawford (also racing) last year and has been on the podium here before (2008 and 2012), while 28-year-old Mitchell won the 2014 25-29 70.3 World Championships and was third behind Siddall at IRONMAN Australia last year.
Canadian Fawn Whiting is yet another to progress into the pro ranks after a successful age group career and was 7th in Taupo last year in her first full year racing as a pro.
The Kiwi contenders include former ITU athlete Teresa Adam, renowned as a swim/biker during her short course days. The 27-year-old won the tough K1 cycle event in 2017 so could find herself in amongst the leaders early. Also watch for experienced Christchurch athlete Julia Grant and Indy Kraal (Christchurch) to feature throughout the day while another to watch will be former winner Sam Bradley (nee Warriner) who these days is based in Taupo and a fulltime coach/part time athlete and will race in her age group on Saturday morning, likely while at the same time keeping an eye on her Sweat 7 coached athletes.
Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain IRONMAN New
Zealand, Pro Women Seeds
Saturday March 3rd, 2018
BIB LAST FIRST COUNTRY
REP Women 25 McCauley Jocelyn USA
STATES) 26 Siddall Laura GBR
KINGDOM) 27 Whiting Fawn CAN
(CANADA) 29 Bevilaqua Kate AUS
(AUSTRALIA) 30 Mitchell Jessica AUS
(AUSTRALIA) 31 Adam Teresa NZL
ZEALAND) 32 Alvarez Palmira MEX
(MEXICO) 33 Donavan Jessica USA
STATES) 34 Grant Julia NZL
ZEALAND) 35 Gregory Caroline USA
STATES) 36 Kotopulu Helena CZE
REPUBLIC) 37 Kraal Indy NZL
ZEALAND) 38 Selsmark Alise AUS
(AUSTRALIA) 39 St-Pierre Caroline CAN