Triathletes from across Australia and New Zealand prepare to race in Tropical North Queensland for tomorrow’s 10th anniversary Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns.
The 2021 event is set to be the largest IRONMAN Cairns on record, with more than 3,000 athletes taking part in either IRONMAN or IRONMAN 70.3 races.
In the professional fields, Amelia Watkinson and Max Neumann return to defend their titles against 2020 IRONMAN Cairns podium finisher Renee Kiley in the women’s, and four former champions Josh Amberger, Tim Van Berkel, Cameron Brown and David Dellow in the men’s starting list.
Aussie contender Renee Kiley who had her career best IRONMAN finish at Cairns last year, coming in 3rd after Watkinson and 2017 champion Sarah Crowley, is looking forward to building on her 2020 performance.
“It was a great result and between Cairns last year and IRONMAN 70.3 Sunshine Coast they were two breakthrough races for me in my career. Cairns last year wasn’t a full surprise, I expected a lot from myself in that race, but of course expecting it and actually having it happen are two different things, so I’m definitely coming to Cairns this year with higher expectations on myself given my results last year,” said Kiley. “I’m definitely still learning, I’ve only been in the sport for five or six years so there’s always something that I’m learning each race, but I think now I’m at the point where most of my learning is in the mental space and how to approach things mentally rather than physically.
“Traditionally I haven’t been a great racer in heat, but then I had an awesome race in Cairns and it was a really hot day so I guess that’s always been a fear of mine approaching races, the weather and the conditions not being suitable for me,” she said. “Having a great race in Cairns has just given me so much confidence that I’m actually quite strong in the heat and I don’t need to worry about it.
“I was thinking the other day was that I’ve always had it in my head that Cairns is not the best race for me and my physiology but I’ve done IRONMAN 70.3 Cairns twice as an age-grouper, the first time was my second ever 70.3 race and I podiumed for the first time and then I did it in 2017 and I won the age-group race and that qualified me for my Pro licence,” said Kiley. “Then I did it last year and it was my first Pro podium so Cairns has been special to me and let’s hope it can be even more special this year.”
Max Neumann, who nabbed his maiden IRONMAN title during his IRONMAN debut at Cairns last year, will again have tough competition but says he’s feeling good heading into tomorrow’s race.
“IRONMAN is never an easy thing to train for, so I’ve spent a lot of time and used a lot of patience, not going too hard too early so you can get to the race, with the main goal to get there injury free and with a good base of fitness,” he said. “I feel that we’ve done that over the last couple of weeks, I’m back to the shape I was in last year before Cairns and hopefully with the cooler conditions we can run a bit quicker and ride a bit quicker than in 2020 because it was absolutely brutal.”
“IRONMAN is something that everyone knows, even if you’re not involved in triathlon you know the word, to win an IRONMAN first go around is pretty special,” said Neumann. “Especially in what is pretty much my home race in Cairns, it was a good experience, a good feeling and set a good tone for the coming years.”
Fellow Aussie and 2016 IRONMAN Cairns champion, Tim Van Berkel, was second across the line in 2020, and is excited to be back racing in Tropical North Queensland.
“I love the warmer weather, I love that course, it’s so picturesque and so beautiful along the Captain Cook Highway there, it’s a race that I really enjoy and a race that really motivates me,” said Van Berkel. “These Championship races with the good prize purse attracts the good competition and that just really excites me and it’s a race I can get pumped for and training really hard for it.
“I’ve done a good eight-week training block this year where last year I only really got two weeks of decent training. The preparation has been a lot better and I’m really pumped to get back up there and get back on the start line.”
Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns – Female Professional Start List
BIB – NAME – COUNTRY
1 – Amelia Watkinson – New Zealand
2 – Renee Kiley – Australia
3 – Rebecca Clarke – New Zealand
4 – Kylie Simpson – Australia
5 – Courtney Gilfillan – Australia
6 – Helena Hayes – Ireland
7 – Chloe Lane – Australia
8 – Penny Slater – Australia
9 – Shannon Sutton – Australia
10 – Sarah Thomas – Great Britain
Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns – Male Professional Start List
BIB – NAME – COUNTRY
21 – Max Neumann – Australia
22 – Tim Van Berkel – Australia
23 – Josh Amberger – Australia
24 – Mike Phillips – New Zealand
25 – David Dellow – Australia
26 – Cameron Brown – New Zealand
27 – Matt Burton – Australia
28 – Tim Reed – Australia
29 – Ben Phillips – New Zealand
30 – Blake Kappler – Australia
31 – Leigh Anderson-Voigt – Australia
32 – Scott Bayvel – South Africa
33 – Simon Billeau – France
34 – Damien Collins – Australia
35 – Jarrod Harvey – Australia
36 – Levi Hauwert – Australia
37 – Simon Hearn – Australia
38 – Lachlan Kerin – Australia
39 – Mitchell Kibby – Australia
40 – Clint Kimmins – Australia
41 – Levi Maxwell – Australia
42 – Caleb Noble – Australia
43 – Fraser Walsh – Australia