Bay of Plenty endurance athlete Michelle Bremer says she would be stoked to finish on the podium at Ironman New Zealand when she competes against a strong field of elite athletes.
Bremer, 32, is the only Bay athlete seeded inside the top 10 for the men's or women's race in Taupo today and is coming off a good season last year.
She won Ironman Australia last May - her second Ironman victory - before finishing third at Cairns in June.
Recurring back problems affected her training early this year but she is now back to full strength and in good shape going into the endurance event in Taupo. She is seeded at No5 in the women's race and said a podium placing would be excellent.
"I'd be stoked with a podium finish and I'd be happy with a top-five," she said. "But positions are quite hard to target. My personal goal is just to have a solid bike and have a really good run, and try for a PB on the run."
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Bremer is now living in Sydney but grew up in Mount Maunganui. She won on debut at her first full ironman, at Ironman Western Australia in 2011. Since then she has been hooked and said she loved the long trainings.
"Speed does not come naturally to me but I have good endurance and I love the trainings, like getting out for long runs and bikes."
She has only raced Ironman New Zealand once before, finishing fifth in 2014.
Both the men's and women's fields are stacked both in quality and quantity as many professionals have headed across the Tasman following the cancellation of the 2016 Ironman Asia Pacific Championship Melbourne.
American Meredith Kessler will return to her home away from home to chase her fifth straight win in the women's race. The Californian has formed a close affinity with Taupo, and is homing in on the record of six titles of Kiwi legend Jo Lawn.
As with the men, the podium from last year is back in the form of Kiwis Gina Crawford and Melanie Burke.
Cameron Brown, 43, (Auckland) will wear the No1 bib - set aside for the top seed - for the 15th time in 19 starts in the men's the event and will look to defend the title he won for the 11th time last year.
Brown enjoyed a fantastic first half to 2015, winning his first Ironman New Zealand in four years and finishing second at Cairns. He is now primed for his return to his kingdom of Taupo. Last year's other podium placegetters, Kiwis Terenzo Bozzone and Dylan McNeice, are also returning.