Maier hoping to hunt young guns down

Simone Maier competes in the cycle leg of the Coast to Coast in 2020. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Simone Maier competes in the cycle leg of the Coast to Coast in 2020. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Simone Maier may be the top-ranked competitor at the Coast to Coast but the Wanaka multisport great knows that can count for little on race day.

She has plenty of motivation this weekend as she seeks to win a record-equalling fifth women’s title in the Longest Day event.

Maier could be forgiven for getting a little emotional last year as she ran up the finishing chute to claim a fourth world title and be greeted by a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday from the supportive multisport community.

That victory required a cool head under extreme pressure from the next generation of multisport athletes.

The likes of Deborah Lynch, Rebecca Kingsford and Fiona Dowling set a cracking early pace on their 243km journey across the South Island, from the shores of the Tasman Sea near Kumara to the Pacific Ocean at New Brighton.

Only towards the end of the 67km kayak stage down the Waimakariri River was Maier able to assert control, and she followed up with a power-packed 70km bike to the finish at New Brighton to join Kathy Lynch (five) and Jill Westenra (four) as the only athletes to have won the great race four times.

Deborah Lynch, Kingsford and Dowling are all returning this year, and a bunch of other elite athletes will be keen to challenge the defending champion.

Three-time champion Elina Ussher (Nelson) returns after getting caught in a pile-up of riders on the first stage between Kumara and Aikens last year.

Hannah Lund (Methven), hockey convert Tessa Aukje Dekker (Christchurch), Julia Chamberlain (Darfield), Maria Ehlin Kolk (Sweden), Alice Mullins (Christchurch), Zoe MacClure (Wanaka) and former national gymnast Sarah Jenkins (Christchurch) could all feature.

Maier is in a relaxed frame of mind as she prepares for the challenge.

"I’m just going bring my own race," she said.

"This year must be one of the strongest fields we’ve ever had in the Coast. They have over 10 elite women. There is at least eight girls I could name who have a really good shot of finishing in the medals."

Maier is one of the elder stateswomen at 43, and knows the young guns are coming.

"These youngsters have so much to gain if they improve more than I.

"I don’t know if I have improved. I haven’t slowed down, which is exciting.

"I guess it is only a matter of time that some youngster will come along and bulldoze me down."

Maier plans to do nothing out of the ordinary from the start, and to let those with a fast start and a rush of blood head off, and hunt them down later.

"I don’t want to fall apart. So I won’t be the first one off the start line.

"I just hope to do my own race and not get involved in too much from the start. Then I’ll just put my head down and go.

"Bring it on."

Simone Maier

The facts

Born: Germany, February 1980.

Immigrated to New Zealand: 2007.

Top ironman result: Third in age group Hawaii 2009; won age group Ironman New Zealand 2009; second Challenge Wanaka 2001, third 2012.

Multisport: World champion 2019, 2021, 2022 and 2023; second 2015 and 2018.

Influences: Emily Miazga, Jess Simson, Dougal Allan, Sam Clarke, Marcel Hagener.

Race goal: To not die wondering.