Otago Daily Times

Maier well poised to bounce back

- WAYNE PARSONS

WANAKA'S Simone Maier would like nothing better than to cap off her 41st birthday in style with another victory in the world championsh­ip of multisport Longest Day race at the Coast to Coast.

Maier, who turns 41 tomorrow, is adamant that age is just a number.

‘‘Oh God yeah! I don't feel that old,’’ she said.

‘‘I think it's good, and that I can still give the young ones a good run for their money.’’

A champion on the course two years ago, Maier will also be drawing on a day last year that she would rather forget, when she became hypothermi­c during the kayak stage and had to withdraw and put to rest any chance of backtoback titles.

‘‘Last year's race didn't go so well, so I've got some unfinished business,’’ she said.

She initially got into a little trouble on the run, when forgoing the need to refuel and rehydrate. Then, in the early stages of the kayak stage, she took a couple of swims in an attempt to open up the lead she held.

‘‘The water was pretty crazy and I was so cold and wasn't functionin­g so well. It wasn't an easy thing to do,’’ she said, as she had no option but to withdraw from the race.

Maier went through a lot of soulsearch­ing in the days and weeks that followed. As the defending champion, she felt that she had let so many people down.

‘‘I am just a human being like everybody else. It can happen to the best athletes in the world. I was grieving about it like it was a death.”

But time was a great healer and with the pressure off as defending champion, Maier has taken a totally different approach in her preparatio­n for this year’s race.

She believed she overtraine­d last year and did not taper off early enough.

This year however, she has a whole new game plan and is going in with a more relaxed approach. She has not been as uptight and as intense with her training, opting to enjoy what she is doing as opposed to being mindful of time and distance.

Maier thinks she has the balance about right in her approach to conquer the race this year.

“It comes back to how you look at things. I can't change what happened last year but I can prepare better. Now I am ready to rumble . . . literally.”

She began tapering off three weeks ago for the race this Saturday and is already feeling the positives from a completely changed preparatio­n for the race.

“I feel a lot nicer and a way healthier in my approach.”

Added motivation for Maier, who moved to New Zealand in 2007 as an elite triathlete, will be to do well for her family back in Europe, and to give them something to smile about as they are go through some tough times with the Covid19 pandemic.

“We are so lucky over here. For me our lockdown gave me a time for self reflection and in some ways it was a blessing in disguise.”

Her main goal for Saturday's event was to have a good race and make it through the 243km journey in one piece.

 ?? PHOTO WAYNE PARSONS ?? Sunshine on a cloudy day . . . Simone Maier crosses Goat Pass on the way to winning the Longest Day in the 2019 edition of the Coast to Coast.
PHOTO WAYNE PARSONS Sunshine on a cloudy day . . . Simone Maier crosses Goat Pass on the way to winning the Longest Day in the 2019 edition of the Coast to Coast.

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