By Kent Gray/
Former world champion Chelsea Sodaro headlines a stellar women’s field for next month’s 40th ANZCO Foods IRONMAN New Zealand.

The 2022 Kona conqueror and current PTO world No.11 will line-up in Taupo on the back of her season-opening silver medal at the Tauranga Half on January 20 and victory at Ironman 70.3 Tasmania.

Also confirmed for the 226km test on March 2 are four former champions who together have combined to capture nine of the last 11 IRONMAN New Zealand titles since 2012: Joceyln McCauley (USA), Laura Siddall (GBR), five-time winner Meredith Kessler (USA)  and defending champion Els Visser (NLD).

Four-time Olympian and multiple IRONMAN 70.3 champion Barbara Riveros (CHL), and Kiwis Amelia Watkinson – who hasn’t raced over the full distance since finishing second at the Cairns Airport IRONMAN Cairns in 2021 – and Rebecca Clarke, a podium finisher at the past two IRONMAN New Zealand races are also confirmed.

Els Visser.

“I’m really excited,” Sodaro said.  

“I came to New Zealand for a big camp with my coach Dan Plews, he’s been trying to get me over here for three or four years now and I think it will be a great start to my full distance season.

“I’m really looking to enjoy this early part of the year and get some good experience with different tactics and racing dynamics, so it will be an opportunity to practice all of that and get in a really great competitive field.

“I love to compete against the best and I think that racing great athletes brings out the best in me, I go to every race with the goal to come out on top and it means more when you race really good athletes.”

Sodaro will race Ironman NZ – the oldest IRONMAN in the world outside of Kona, Hawai`i – for the first time. The 34-year-old American will then end her season back in Taupo courtesy of her win in Tasmania where she not only secured her first victory since becoming IRONMAN World Champion in 2022 but punched her ticket for December’s IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships.  

“I really pride myself on my preparation, I’m super detailed oriented and I like to know the specificities of the course so I can prepare very specifically, and this training camp and the race will of course give me some insight into what the 70.3 Worlds might look like,” Sodaro said.

2024 ANZCO Foods IRONMAN New Zealand – Women’s Professional Start List

31 – Els Visser (Netherlands)
32 – Chelsea Sodaro (United States)
33 – Rebecca Clarke (New Zealand)
34 – Jocelyn McCauley (United States)
35 – Amelia Watkinson (New Zealand)
36 – Laura Siddall (Great Britain)
37 – Meredith Kessler (United States)
38 – Barbara Riveros (Chile)
39 – Sarah Thomas (Great Britain)
40 – Ai Ueda (Japan)
41 – Kate Bevilaqua (Australia)
42 – Fiona Gallagher (Ireland)
43 – Kate Gillespie-Jones (Australia)
44 – Laura Dennis (Australia)
45 – Emily Donker (Australia)
46 – Regan Hollioake (Australia)
47 – Laura Wood (New Zealand)

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