Kaisa Lehtonen is the first athlete of our Team Sport For Good to end the long winter break and is going to compete at the Ironman 70.3 in Dubai this Friday.
"It is great to be back in Dubai, as the whole trip last year was a great experience. After Kona I am training now with my new coach Siri. We have only been working together for two months, but so far it feels really good", says Kaisa.
The Finnish long-distance champions is currently being trained by Siri Lindley, the two-time triathlon world champion from the United States, to build on her successes from last season.
Lehtonen convinced with her victory at Ironman South Africa and a sensational fifth place at the World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii last year.
"Dubai is rather a part of the current training cycle"
The new training structures, however, make the outlook on their first race of the season almost impossible: "My setup for this season is completely different than last year, so it is difficult to give an assessment for Friday. We see the race in Dubai rather as a part of my current training plan", says Kaisa. "I am especially looking forward to the competition with the other top athletes, as a realistic assessment of my performance at this time of the year is very valuable to me. The race is also a nice change to the daily workout routine. "
The half-distance race over 70.3 miles in Dubai begins with the swimming course at the public beach of Jumeirah. Afterwards, the athletes will travel over a flat 45 km through the desert on one of the fastest Ironman bike courses in the world. The course continues along Jumeirah Beach over three 7km rounds and offers extremely spectator-friendly conditions.
2016 Kaisa Lehtonen was able to finish the desert race in Dubai with a fantastic third place in a total time of 04:05:03. Only Swiss Daniela Ryf (04:01:09) and Caroline Steffen (04:05:01) were a little bit faster, latter only by 0,02 seconds. Both athletes will be back in the United Arab Emirates again this year.
"My goal is to have great fun"
Lehtonen looks relaxed at the desert competition this year and is not putting up any pressure: "My goal for the race in Dubai is to have great fun and that is why it is really great that we have such a hard startlist so early in the season." Her focus, however, is on the Ironman Championships in Hawaii in October.
"The main goal for this season is definitely Kona. I'm focussing on the podium, and I'll build every training and competition this season around that big goal."