Maier re­turns for sev­enth Chal­lenge


Chal­lenge Wanaka home­town favourite Si­mone Maier has put last year’s rib-smash­ing bike crash well and truly be­hind her.

Maier is in the 12-strong pro­fes­sional women’s field for Wanaka’s 226km triathlon on Feb­ru­ary 18 and once again is eye­ing the podium.

It will be Maier’s sev­enth hit out at Chal­lenge Wanaka, where she has con­sis­tently de­liv­ered a top-five fin­ish, in­clud­ing one sec­ond place and two thirds.

Last year she got the galling ‘‘DNF’’ [did not fin­ish] be­side her name - this for a wo­man who would crawl over a line on her hands and knees if she had to.

‘‘Last year, I am pretty sure a stone got stuck in my brakes. I did a few tum­ble turns and I broke three or four ribs. But I had a pretty amaz­ing re­cov­ery . . . Within about four weeks, I was back to nor­mal,’’ she said.

Maier went on to com­pete with pro­fes­sional ad­ven­ture rac­ing teams in China and Aus­tralia and notched up a cou­ple more un­in­tended DNFs when var­i­ous team mates also suc­cumbed to ill­ness or in­jury.

But she also had sig­nif­i­cant suc­cesses, in­clud­ing a win at the Euro­pean Ad­ven­ture Rac­ing Cham­pi­onships in Spain with Swe­den-based Thule Ad­ven­ture Team.

In Jan­uary, she won the mixed elite cat­e­gory of the Red Bull De­fi­ance with her Wanaka part­ner, Mar­cel Ha­gener.

Maier briefly toyed with the idea of do­ing the Coast to Coast Long­est Day on Feb­ru­ary 8, but Chal­lenge was a no-brainer be­cause of lo­cal sup­port and the fa­mil­iar course.

Maier said she would stick to her own race plan and not be too con­cerned about what her ri­vals were do­ing.

‘‘I have my best races when I am do­ing my own thing. But be­cause I have to catch up af­ter the swim it changes things.

‘‘Of course you want to catch up, get their splits. And it is im­por­tant not to put too much pres­sure on your­self. But I can’t be rid­ing along for too long in my bub­ble ei­ther, think­ing, oh what a beau­ti­ful day,’’ she said.

Maier is also rac­ing the God­zone at the end of Feb­ru­ary with de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, Yealand Fam­ily Wines (Chris Forne, Dan Moore, Dan Busch) and con­cedes the next few weeks could be ‘‘bloody hell’’.

She then plans a break for at least a month.



Si­mone Maier cel­e­brates fin­ish­ing the 2014 Chal­lenge Wanaka, when she was third.

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