This weekend Michelle Vesterby and Meredith Kessler both qualified for next year’s Ironman World Championship. Both were included in a story Triathlon Magazine Canada did in our September issue on “Super Moms.” Here are some excerpts from that feature to celebrate their impressive racing this weekend.
Meredith Kessler: working mom
On Sunday, Kessler finished third at Ironman Arizona behind Sarah Crowley and Heather Jackson. While there were two qualifying spots for the Ironman World Championship, Crowley has already qualified thanks to her third-place finish this year. That means Kessler is Kona-bound again.
Kessler had baby M.A.K in November, 2017 and was back racing the following April – she finished sixth at Ironman Texas and by June was back to her winning ways, taking Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant and Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga. In August that year she took third at Ironman Mont-Tremblant, too.
It should probably come as no surprise that Kessler, who worked as a bank executive for years before finally giving up work to turn pro, would be the one who likens this current trend of super-mom racing to that of working mothers around the world.
“When I raced Texas when he (M.A.K.) was five months I started tearing up – I was crying like a school girl – because I was going to have to leave him for the nine hours that I was racing,” she said. “I slapped myself right away. ‘Meredith, people do this all the time, they go into work. You get to bring your kid to work and you’re going to see your kid while you’re biking, while you’re running. Suck it up – you’ll be with him for the rest of the evening. Life is good, you’ve got it made, you’ve done what you wanted to do. You get to bring your kid to your business meetings.’”
She continued the analogy to a regular training day.
“Some people drop their kids off at day care or their nanny and then they head off to work,” she continued. “They might not get to see their kids for eight or even 16 hours. We get to see our kids in between our sessions.”
You can balance all parts of life and be good at all parts of life
Michelle Vesterby and her husband Klaus celebrated the birth of Marcus in May of this year. Just three months later she returned to racing at Ironman Copenhagen, where she finished fifth. Weeks after Marcus was born, Vesterby was determined to get back to racing quickly.
“I want to show Marcus and myself and the women around me that we are capable of doing a lot of stuff,” she says. “We’ve already seen super-moms like Radka, Nicola Spirig, Mirinda Carfrae, Caroline Steffen, Meredith Kessler … I think that it’s great that we have a community that is showing that you can be a mother and an elite athlete at the same time. That’s something that I want to give to Marcus – to show him that you can balance all parts of life and be good at all parts of life. That me being an elite mom will not affect him.”
Vesterby painstakingly documented her training throughout and after her pregnancy and received everything from support to concern to outright criticism for it. She was back on her bike a couple of weeks after Markus was born and swimming a week after that. She feels it’s important that every mother work at their own speed.
“I didn’t have trouble during my pregnancy,” she said. “We have to do it in our own speed. Everyone was telling me I was doing too much, but he was really comfortable. He came a week before his due date and he was 4.1 kg. Which is a big baby. He got what he needed. I gained 19 kg, despite training 20 to 25 hours a week, because that was what my body needed. I really think my body adapted well to the pregnancy. The training I put in was so slow – people look at the hours, but they don’t realize it was really just movement.”
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Here’s how that feature in the magazine ended:
And that’s what is likely the most remarkable aspect of this impressive trend. For these women, the sport isn’t just a passion, it’s their job. So, they’re figuring out ways to continue their careers after starting a family.
Vesterby is bound and determined to join her inspirational competitors at the top of a podium very soon. It’s hard not to imagine we’ll see that happen.
“The only person you should listen to is yourself and believe in yourself because there are no limits,” according to Vesterby.
We’re not sure if we get to take the credit for predicting her big races, or if that honour goes to her. Vesterby’s third-place finish in Cozumel nailed her one of the three qualifying spots that were up for grabs at the race, which was the Latin American Championship.
For Michelle Vesterby and Meredith Kessler, there certainly don’t seem to be any limits.