Meredith Kessler showcased her strength in all three disciplines to take the win at Ironman 70.3 Raleigh over a fast finishing Lauren Barnett.

Text by Chief | Image supplied


As a result of the heat and humidity, the non-wetsuit rule was enforced, but that didn’t stop the host of fast swimmers from getting the job done well. Leading out of the water was Lauren Brandon in an insanely fast 25:46, followed by Jennifer Spieldenner, 38 seconds back. Race favourite, Meredith Kessler along with her Purplepatch team mate, Holly Lawrence were approximately one and a half minutes behind Brandon’s lead. “It was apparent that the swim was going to be quite fast, even for a non wetsuit start,” Kessler said. “Lauren Brandon is all class in the water and she deservingly beat the best in the world out of the water by a good bit at Challenge Dubai in February which was no different in Raleigh. Jen Spieldenner is also a first class athlete and swimmer who should never fly under the radar – she is so talented. Holly Lawrence and I are part of purplepatch together so I know that she is one fast cat in all three disciplines! The swim was hot and murky and unfolded as expected.”

Eventual runner up, Lauren Barnett, had almost five minutes to make up out of the swim, but went to work quickly on two wheels. “I had a lot of fun on the bike – it was a great course with plenty of rollers, smooth roads, lots of turns, and fantastic views!” Barnett explained. “I’ve finally gotten very dialed in on my new bike, and it showed … I was watching my Quarq power numbers thinking ‘Ok this seems pretty high, but I’m feeling really good!’ I wanted to race this race one leg at time.”

Kessler had moved her way to the front along with Lawrence at approximately 25 miles, both getting off the bike in quick succession and out onto the run course. Brandon followed over two minutes behind with Barnett having moved her way into fourth place off the bike and a chase of three minutes to the leaders on her hands. “Lauren Barnett showed her amazingness as she does and biked unbelievably to get back into contention,” Kessler explained. Further back, Caitlin Snow was lurking, ready to unleash her always impressive run.


“Barnett showed her amazingness as she does and biked unbelievably to get back into contention”  –  Kessler


Kessler pushed ahead of Lawrence on the run and held strong in hot conditions to keep Barnett, who was closing in on her, at bay. “The goal in those hot and humid conditions (which is not a strong suit of mine!) was to keep a consistent pace, find the groove, avoid too much cramping and it was enough to hold Barnett off only by a very small margin – she was really fluid and she has so much passion and grace which I admire so much.” said Kessler. “There were a couple turnarounds on the course where I could see her gracefully charging fast so needed to keep on the gas the best I could – as we know, we are never truly in the clear until we touch the tape at the line. The incredible and kind, Cait Snow, was also charging on the run as she so amazingly does!”

FullSizeRenderKessler crossed the line in first place as the heat was rising in a time of 4:14 to claim another impressive half iron-distance title. “The race was a small stepping stone personally for heat training as I continue to try to try new things and cope in general in those conditions as temperatures soared into the 90’s on the run. Once again, it was a workmanlike day where trust needed to be put into the training and the game plan!” she explained. “Congratulations to Lauren Barnett, Cait Snow and all the ladies (and gents) who raced with such fortitude and tenacity as they all certainly do. It was awesome to have the opportunity to share the course with everyone.”


“… it was a workmanlike day where trust needed to be put into the training and the game plan!”  –  Kessler


Barnett’s impressive bike/run combination saw her surge ahead and into second place at the end of the race. “Once I was into T2, I was confident in my ability to run well,” Barnett explained. “I have been healing from a rib injury, which has been quite stubborn (or maybe it was me that was so stubborn!). During my last race in Galveston, the pain in my ribs got the best of me during the run, but as of this week, it’s all finally been feeling pretty normal again.”

“I love racing in the moment, one mile at a time, and that’s when I tend to perform at my best.  My coach had reminded me of that the night prior to the race. Staying in the moment, having fun, and not worrying about what’s to come – those were my goals for this race. I knew that with confidence in my training and belief in race-day magic, yes – I could definitely be in contention for the podium off the bike … I’m thrilled with a solid performance amongst a world class talent! MBK (Kessler) was amazing out there Sunday, and Cait Snow can run like the wind … ”


“I’m thrilled with a solid performance amongst a world class talent!”  –  Barnett


“… But once I knew it was second for me, I peeled off to the side for some hugs with my homestay family before crossing the line. I always have time for photos in the chute with the little girl who gave up her princess room for me for the weekend!

Snow lived up to her impressive run quality with a 1:21:12 split, rocketing her from eighth position off the bike in to third place at the finish line.


Ironman 70.3 Raleigh 2015 Results
Kessler, Meredith USA 0:27:20 2:19:08 1:24:54 4:14:00
Barnett, Lauren USA 0:30:32 2:18:53 1:22:58 4:14:58
Snow, Caitlin USA 0:28:57 2:27:31 1:21:12 4:21:06
Tondeur, Alexandra BEL 0:30:37 2:25:45 1:23:42 4:22:59
Hering, Jackie USA 0:28:54 2:28:27 1:22:55 4:23:09
Lawrence, Holly GBR 0:27:20 2:19:12 1:35:06 4:24:12
McQuaid, Melanie CAN 0:30:02 2:19:32 1:32:30 4:24:46
Spieldenner, Jennifer USA 0:26:24 2:26:55 1:33:20 4:29:25
Patterson, Julie USA 0:30:36 2:29:51 1:29:19 4:32:31
Huse, Sue CAN 0:36:17 2:26:40 1:26:34 4:33:22
Hinz, Bailey USA 0:30:41 2:29:58 1:30:32 4:34:51
DiMichele Miller, Leslie USA 0:30:41 2:33:15 1:29:14 4:36:17
Basso, Anne FRA 0:30:30 2:29:51 1:33:05 4:36:38
Brandon, Lauren USA 0:25:46 2:23:02 1:47:04 4:38:32
Roohi, Molly USA 0:33:47 2:32:03 1:32:22 4:41:33
Benson, Hayley USA 0:35:16 2:35:58 1:26:12 4:41:39
Chong, Jessica USA 0:33:06 2:34:18 1:35:04 4:45:53
LaPoint, Kara USA 0:34:14 2:43:28 1:33:42 4:55:23
McCracken, Amelia USA 0:36:23 2:38:11 1:44:34 5:02:06
Mighdoll, Michelle USA 0:33:41 2:43:54 0:00:00 0:00:00

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