Reigning Ironman St. George champion Meredith Kessler is no stranger to the winds, heat and climbing on the course in St. George, Utah, as she returns for the fourth year in a row. She’ll be racing to win again in St. George this Saturday after a 12th-place finish at the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Melbourne in March. The last three years, the race in St. George has been an Ironman, but due to its difficulty (2012 saw a 27 percent attrition rate) it was changed to a 70.3 and awarded the title (as well as higher points and prize purse) of U.S. Pro Championship, drawing a much deeper pro field than in previous years. We caught up with Kessler before Saturday’s race to see how she’s feeling.
Triathlete.com: What did you learn from your race in Melbourne?
Kessler: I learned a lot of things from Melbourne that could cover an entire chapter of a book. I would say the most important thing is to trust your equipment to be able to perform on race day, no matter what the conditions. If you are not able to get enough nutrition or hydration on the bike, your day will end soon—the body is a fine-tuned machine, and if something is off in these departments, no amount of training will make up for it. In addition, what is crucial for any athlete out there is to always remember: not to let success get to your head or failure get to your heart. I absolutely cherish the good days—when everything comes together—these days are never taken for granted. As for the not-so-great days, it’s so imperative to make sure you allow yourself these lower moments to happen and not be afraid to fail. It’s part of life and part of any job—it is also how mistakes are fixed and where learning is flourished. I know we’ll have more failures in the future—while they are character-building experiences to say the least, they also remind me to be thankful and appreciate any success.
Triathlete.com: How are you feeling heading into St. George?
Kessler: I’m feeling excited and elated to be heading back to St. George for the fourth year in a row. I think it is even more exciting that it’s a 70.3 this year and a U.S. Championship race. It’s such a profound, gorgeous and challenging course in a welcoming community—who wouldn’t be pumped to return? We are coming into this race after a fantastic purplepatch team camp in San Francisco/Stinson Beach, which was perfect timing for those racing this weekend. I’m really looking forward to this course, especially having made some needed changes in my bike setup. After two March international Ironman events, I’m jazzed to race again—especially back in the USA in a place like St. George.
Triathlete.com: What are your thoughts on the course being changed to a 70.3?
Kessler: I am just so glad there is still a race at St. George—St. George is a magical place. It’s a wonderful race, the town is friendly and welcoming, the views are spectacular—one of the best events on the circuit. With that being said, it was unfortunate that the reputation of Ironman St. George was a tough course, which decreased the signups—I think ultimately led to the demise of the full event. It’s Ironman—it’s supposed to be tough! All kidding aside, whether a half or full distance, [I’m] still delighted to return.
Triathlete.com: How do you feel about the strong pro field drawn to the race this year?
Kessler: It makes me so happy to see that so many professionals decided to race in St. George this year. I feel like this race got brushed under the rug the last three years since it was given low points, low prize money and/or got dubbed as a “harder course.” Sure, it is a tough course, but so are a lot of others on the circuit and this one is worth it. This community and the town of St. George deserve to have a big showing of both age-group and professional athletes. It will be a great day on Saturday for all involved!
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