IRONMAN superstar and two time world long course champ Caroline Steffen is on track to make history on 5 May, as the first local resident to win the iconic IRONMAN Australia in Port Macquarie.
The Swiss born Caroline has called Port Macquarie home for almost three years and she is hoping to break the local IRONMAN Australia drought, that has seen locals Tim van Berkel finish second to Paul Ambrose in 2012 and Melinda Cockshutt third behind Chrissie Wellington and Kate Major in 2008.
IRONMAN Australia winner in 2011, while flying the Swiss flag, Caroline is hoping May will be a month of double celebrations, with a ‘local” win at IRONMAN Australia and receiving her Australian citizenship ten days later.
After a four year break from IRONMAN racing, Caroline kicked off her comeback to full distance racing with a win on debut at IRONMAN Western Australia, only 12 months after the birth of her son Xander.
“IRONMAN is really hard and a hard sport on your body and mind. In 2015, I was a bit burned out and needed a break and then I had another little break having a baby. I am enjoying racing again, but I am enjoying it a different way. I am a mum now and I enjoy that part of my life so much. I enjoy having both aspects in my life and it works really well.”
“My last race in Hawaii wasn’t that great and I was disappointed with that and one of the reasons why I stopped going back there. I wasn’t sure about my return to racing, but I thought I would give it a go and if it worked out, I would keep doing it. If not, I would stop. I would have been happy either way.”
“To be honest I never thought I would come back from having Xander and be racing at the same level. I am quite surprised but I am even faster than before. I look at triathlon differently now and I enjoy it more because it is not the number one priority. Number one is Xander and triathlon has become a job that I do and when I get home, I am done with it. I have found the balance I need to do well in both aspects of my life.”
“From the outside my comeback probably looks like an easy journey, but it wasn’t at all. It was a lot of hard work and I went over to Europe for a couple of weeks at altitude. It is different now being a mum, the whole training and daily routine is different to how it used to be. It took me awhile to realise that I have to change things to get the same success. But this season I know roughly what I have to do and we will keep doing what we do because it works. I am pretty happy how 2018 went. It was a big journey and a long journey but I am super stoked at where I am at, at the moment.”
Caroline said racing IRONMAN Australia, in front of her friends and neighbours, is another important step in her return to the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona in October.
“I haven’t really done too much since Busso. I had some off time with the family and slowly got back into training. In hindsight racing at 70.3 Geelong wasn’t the smartest decision because I got a bit of injury about two weeks out. It was nothing major, but it was enough to get me out of my swim routine. I lost a bit of fitness and I was hurting on the run with my injury and I couldn’t show my A game. It wasn’t a great idea to race but I felt like doing a little trip, getting away and I love Geelong. It is an awesome spot to have a race and that is why I picked it. But the Philippines 70.3 was much better and my swim is back where it should be.”
“It is a slow process getting my fitness back and I have qualified for Hawaii already so there is no need to push too early or too hard. I am definitely not in full training at the moment, but pretty soon I will be for Port Macquarie.”
“Port Mac is one of the iconic IRONMAN races and I am living right on the course. It is an easy race for me especially with Xander. I am not keen to travel everywhere. Travel makes it hard because he is walking and running around. I have done Port Mac before, it is an awesome race, with massive crowds, amazing support and the course is very honest. I think I can do really well even though it will be May.”
Caroline’s focus for 2019 is her return to Kona and part of that process is a win in Port Mac and along with that comes the honour of being the first local to snare the IRONMAN Australia title.
“Back in 2011 when I was racing, I never thought that I would end up living in Port Macquarie but it is a lovely spot. It is awesome for training. I love the running but the riding is a bit challenging at times because you need to know where to go. I have found my loops and having an IRONMAN here is great. I call myself a local, a Port Macquarie local and I am pumped and very excited to race in front of all my friends,” she said.
IRONMAN Australia is an important World Championship Qualifying Race, offering 40 standard qualifying slots for the original and most famous long distance triathlon in the world, the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.