In a poll in 2018 to celebrate 40 years of IRONMAN, the winner for ‘greatest American female triathlete’ was Meredith Kessler.
That should come as no great surprise as PTO Board member Meredith’s career is virtually unparalleled in the sport, with more than 30 titles at full and half distance. She also just happens to be one of the most popular athletes around.
Kessler bought a first triathlon bike with her graduation money in 2000 and entered a first full-distance race just two weeks later. The early part of her career meanwhile, which featured nearly 30 full-distance races, was combined with an investment banking job which took up 60 hours per week.
It was not until 2009, by which time the influential Matt Dixon was coaching her, that Meredith felt she was ready to move into the pro ranks. From that moment on the records started to stack up.
She was seventh in her first pro race at IRONMAN Arizona that November and the first win came in 2010 in Canada. All this while still working in banking and training only around 15 hours per week.
It was time to take the next step and go full-time into triathlon, with the next couple of seasons seeing her and Dixon fine-tune training her racing and preparation before she hit new heights from 2012 onwards.
She was super-strong in every aspect, to the fore in the swim, one of the very best cyclists and hard to beat in the run.
Her achievements are astonishing and include five consecutive titles at IRONMAN New Zealand (2012-2016), which saw her dubbed the 'Queen of Taupo', and three Arizona titles (2014-2016), back where it all started.
She gave birth to her son Mak in 2017 before returning to the sport in 2018, balancing family life with her training for "the best of both worlds".
She was sixth in her comeback race at IRONMAN Texas before adding two more 70.3 victories to her record at Raleigh and Mont-Tremblant. There were no fewer than six podiums in 2019, before 2020 started with a second place back at the happy hunting ground of Taupo.
As well as giving so much to the sport through her performances and persona, Meredith has also enjoyed reaching out to others by developing the ‘Life Of A Triathlete’ manuals with her husband. The objective is to help individuals reach their athletic goals faster than they would on their own.