Defending Champ Kylie Simpson Headlines Women’s Pro Race IRONMAN Cairns

Friday 14 June 2024

Defending champion Kylie Simpson (AUS) will headline an international field of top female professional triathletes this Sunday, 16 June at the 2024 Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns. 

There is more on the line than ever before for the professionals at this year’s event, with the IRONMAN Asia-Pacific title and a share of the USD $150,000 total event pro prize purse up for grabs, as well as four VinFast IRONMAN World Championship qualifying slots per gender, and a maximum of 5,000 IRONMAN Pro Series™ points to race winners. 

IRONMAN Cairns marks the eighth stop of the inaugural IRONMAN Pro Series and the first in Oceania. The IRONMAN Pro Series is a performance-based triathlon competition contested throughout the year that sees professional triathletes race to earn points which accrue towards the title of IRONMAN Pro Series Champion, and in turn the lion’s share of a USD $1.7 million end-of-year bonus prize purse. IRONMAN Cairns race winners will earn 5,000 points towards the IRONMAN Pro Series standings, with every second behind the race winner equating to a point earned or lost. 

Australia’s Kylie Simpson will line up in Palm Cove on Sunday morning as the athlete to beat in the women’s professional race. Simpson is not only a two-time IRONMAN Cairns champion, the Brisbane-based athlete also holds the women’s overall course best (8:40:53), bike course best (4:40:41), and run course best (2:51:37) times, all set during her 2023 victory. 

“IRONMAN Cairns is my favourite race and location of all the IRONMAN races, and most definitely the Pro Series,” said Simpson. “The local community really embrace and welcome the IRONMAN athletes to the region. During the race the crowd support from not only spectators, but also locals who happen to be at some of the great bars and restaurants that the run course goes past all get behind the athletes, making the entire run course supported, there is no place that you will not have someone cheering for you. 

“Being the reigning champion most definitely adds more motivation for me. Being the defending champion, the overall course record holder, as well as the bike and run course record holder, it pushes me to see how much faster we can go. Pressure is a privilege, and something that you put on yourself in either a positive or negative way,” she said. 

As well as gunning for her third title in Cairns, Simpson will also be hoping to pick up maximum IRONMAN Pro Series points. She currently sits sixth in the overall women’s standings courtesy of three consistent races so far. A win at IRONMAN Cairns would elevate Simpson to the top of the standings and cement her in the running for the IRONMAN Pro Series crown and USD $200,000 end-of-year bonus.  

“The IRONMAN Pro Series has been a target for us since it was announced at the end of last year. This new series gives long course triathlon a real opportunity to showcase the athletes that are consistent throughout the season, taking into account the high demands of travel, training, and staying healthy in IRONMAN racing. We are focused solely on the IRONMAN Pro Series this year,” said Simpson. 

“This will be my fourth race this season in the 2024 IRONMAN Pro Series. I have had a consistent start to the year with racing and training, specifically building towards Cairns. I am going into this race with a great deal of confidence. We know this course, this is the fifth consecutive year for me and the field never changes my race plan. I will be aware of the dynamics playing out on race day and respond accordingly.”  

One of the leading challengers in the women’s race is Sunshine-Coast based athlete, Lotte Wilms. The Dutch athlete, making her IRONMAN Cairns debut, is also finely poised in the IRONMAN Pro Series, currently sitting 15th in standings after registering a third-place finish at the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN North American Championship Texas in April. 

“My goal for this race is absolutely to get the max amount of points to get me a good place in the overall ranking,” said Wilms. “For me, a successful series would be to end in the top three overall. To do that, mostly it’s important to stay focused all year around, stay healthy and happy to allow for the right amount of training and show up in good spirit at races. It’s exciting with the IRONMAN Pro Series to see who can manage this the best.” 

Well-known for her strong swim leg, Wilms, along with fellow strong swimmers Lauren Brandon (USA) and Rebecca Clarke (NZL), will know in order to succeed in this race they will have put a lot of time into Kylie Simpson in the water, with the defending champion biking and running her way through the field during her previous victories. 

“It is always hard to predict an IRONMAN race beforehand. It is nearly a nine-hour race and so many things can happen. My focus is really to control the things I can control in a race. Obviously, I try to stay away from the faster runners as long as I can,” said Wilms. 

Another athlete making her IRONMAN Cairns debut and certainly one to watch out for is New Zealand’s Hannah Berry.  

“I’ve been wanting to race Cairns for a few years because I’ve heard great things about the event and the course, but just haven’t managed to get here yet for various reasons. So, I’m excited to finally get the chance to race here,” said Berry. 

“I’ve heard the atmosphere is great here, and that the course is a nice one too, especially the bike course. I like a rolling bike to keep it interesting and I usually quite like warm races and this race has those two things, so I’m hoping it ends up being a race that suits me, and I enjoy.” 

Strong across all three disciplines, Berry will be hoping to execute her own race to the best of her abilities which would likely land her at the pointy end of the 226-kilometre race.  

“There’s a real range of athletes on the start line this year, from uber swimmers like Lauren [Brandon] to super runners like Kylie [Simpson] coming from behind. I think it’ll take a really good day across all three to win in this race and there won’t be room for much error. Being smart and sticking to your own race is almost always the best way to get through an IRONMAN and I think this will be no different,” she said. 

Like Simpson and Wilms, Berry will be hoping to pick up valuable IRONMAN Pro Series points in Cairns. After making a solid start to her IRONMAN Pro Series campaign with fourth at IRONMAN Texas, Berry could land herself in the top three of the overall standings with a win at IRONMAN Cairns this weekend. 

“The IRONMAN Pro Series has been so great so far. I love the idea of being strategic about races and also racing for every second. I think the level of racing has picked up this year with more on the line in the series, and all the athletes are really getting behind it. It’s going to be super interesting to see how it plays out, particularly in the second half of the year when things start getting tight in the overall standings.” 

American Lauren Brandon will return to IRONMAN Cairns for the second time after finishing seventh on her first attempt in 2018.  

“I am so excited to be coming back to Cairns and I can't believe it's been six years. I have such great memories of my trip to Cairns back in 2018. Even though I didn't quite have the race that I had wanted, the course was amazing, the community was so welcoming, and I loved seeing such a beautiful place. Having such a wonderful time so many years ago made me excited to come back and give the course another go. I know that there's a strong women's field and I’m feeling ready to get out there and have a great race,” said Brandon. 

One of the strongest swimmers in the world, Brandon set the IRONMAN Cairns women’s swim course best time (48:39) in 2018 – a record that still stands today.  

“I actually didn't know that I had the swim course record for this race. There are definitely a couple of fast swimmers racing and I think we can expect any of us to lead out and hopefully have a fast day. I know that the water can be choppy sometimes, so I guess we will see what it brings on race day. The crocodiles should make us swim fast too,” she joked. 

There is a lot on the line this weekend for Brandon after a tough start to her season. The American needs to pick up a lot of IRONMAN Pro Series points from this race to put her back in contention, as well as securing her slot to the 2024 VinFast IRONMAN World Championship.  

“I love what the IRONMAN Pro Series has brought to the table, and I know we all have the goal of performing well throughout the season. Unfortunately, I have had a bit of a rough start to the season with getting sick before my first race and not being able to start and then having a tough day at IRONMAN Texas. So, I am not exactly doing well in the series as of now and want to get some points on the table. I also would love a slot for World Champs. So, lots to look forward to on Sunday,” said Brandon. 

“It has been five years since my last IRONMAN win so it would mean more to me than I can explain to win here in Cairns. Ultimately, I just want to come out on Sunday and put together a race that I can be proud of. I have had some great training this year so far and hope to showcase it here in Cairns.” 

This Sunday’s race will be broadcast live across multiple platforms for viewers around the world for free including?proseries.ironman.com, Outside TV, DAZN and L'Equipe in France, and YouTube among others, bringing the world to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.  

Below is the female professional start list: 

FEMALE PRO LIST 

Bib Number 

First Name 

Last Name 

Country Represented 

F1 

Kylie 

Simpson 

AUS (Australia) 

F3 

Lotte 

Wilms 

NLD (Netherlands) 

F4 

Hannah 

Berry 

NZL (New Zealand) 

F5 

Lauren 

Brandon 

USA (United States) 

F6 

Radka 

Kahlefeldt 

AUS (Australia) 

F8 

Rebecca 

Clarke 

NZL (New Zealand) 

F9 

Kate 

Gillespie-Jones 

AUS (Australia) 

F10 

Fiona 

Moriarty 

IRL (Ireland) 

F11 

Ai 

Ueda 

JPN (Japan) 

F12 

Cassandra 

Heaslip 

AUS (Australia) 

F13 

Chino 

Iwabuchi 

JPN (Japan) 

F14 

Danyella 

Eberle 

AUS (Australia) 

F15 

Giorgia 

Priarone 

ITA (Italy) 

F16 

Katie 

Remond 

AUS (Australia) 

F17 

Meredith 

Hill 

AUS (Australia) 

F18 

Olivia 

Dietzel 

USA (United States) 

For more information on the IRONMAN Pro Series visit here.  

For more information on the 2024 Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns visit?www.ironman.com/im-cairns.  

The Cairns Airport IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship Cairns is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar. 

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