WANGANUI multisport star Gina Crawford had to settle for silver once again as her American rival Meredith Kessler carved out another slice of history in the women's race of the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironman New Zealand in Taupo on Saturday.

It was the third year in a row Crawford had claimed the runnerup position to Kessler, who with her 9h 5m 45s time smashed her own women's course record on the way to her fourth women's elite title.

That victory draws Kessler level with the best performed woman at the Ironman, Erin Baker.

Crawford, the 2009 women's champion, finished around 20m 25s behind Kessler, after struggling with a mechanical issue with her bike.

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Kessler is an outstanding swimmer and held a solid 1m 48s lead after leg one, but her blistering cycle effort coupled with Crawford's problems effectively secured the title as she opened up a massive 14m 59s advantage by the running leg.

The American was pleased to beat her own record considering she had a cold before the race.

"Honestly the body is so crazy and so resilient" she said.

"During the week when I was talking like a chipmunk, I was a bit nervous about how I would perform, but sometimes we need to go down a little bit to rise.

"The bike was so hard because of the wind and even the run on the back half of each loop the wind was brutal."

Speaking before the race, Crawford marvelled at how she kept plugging away considering she swore after her first Ironman in 2007 that one was enough.

"I got a slot for the world championships but I said 'no way, I'm not doing one of these again'.

"But about two days later I regretted giving that up and I have been a bit addicted to them ever since because, I think, it is something that challenges you so much physically and mentally.

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"I've done 33 [ironman races] and there is probably only one where I have been satisfied that I have had a great swim, bike and run all in one.

"So you are always striving for that."

Former New Zealand international rower and cyclist Melanie Burke held off a strong challenge from American Stephanie Jones to claim the final podium spot in 9h 41m 50s.

In the men's race, Cameron Brown rolled back the years to clinch his record-breaking 11th title.

The veteran was patient and did not panic despite coming out of the swim in eighth, around 5m 35s behind the leaders, which extended to over six minutes early in the bike ride.

Brown would power home over the last 30km to leave himself a three minute gap behind perennial runnerup Terenzo Bozzone, which Brown then ran down and overtook to finish in 8h 22m 12s for a winning margin of 6m 40s and his first NZ title since 2011.

It was Bozzone's fourth runnerup performance, having been a world champion in Ironman 70.3 events.

Christchurch's Dylan McNeice was third in a battle with Australian Alex Reithmeier.