Standing at 5’10” and a naturally fierce competitor, there’s no doubt that Caroline Steffen has earned her “Xena: Warrior Princess” moniker. Despite this, she maintains one of the friendliest and most professional reputations on the Ironman circuit, always spending plenty of time with her fans posing for photos, answering questions and signing autographs.
Caroline kicked off her 2014 season with an attempt to regain her Ironman Asia-Pacific title in Melbourne, and rode her SRAM Red equipped P5 to a convincing victory. Add to that her 2014 70.3 Philippines victory, and a win at home at the IM 70.3 Sunshine Coast.
Competing at the elite level in one sport puts an athlete within a small, select club. But competing at that level in three different sports creates a whole new category. Caroline has competed on three Swiss National teams: swimming, road cycling and triathlon. She began her athletic career as a swimmer, winning 17 national champion gold medals over her career. In 2006 she made her first major splash outside the pool, with a second place finish in her age group at Ironman Switzerland. That success landed her at the Ironman World Championships in Kona for the first time—with a sub-10-hour third place age-group finish. Perhaps this gave her a taste for the bike more than anything else—her next career move was to compete at the elite level in road cycling with the Cervélo-sponsored Lifeforce team. Having easily established herself as a competitor on the road circuit, in 2008 she was back to triathlon, with one major difference: leaving her amateur successes behind, she had now turned pro.
In 2009, prompted by her partner, Australian pro triathlete David Dellow, Xena decided to start competing in triathlons professionally so she moved to Australia and began training alongside Dellow at Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast. Despite having only recently turned pro, Xena gave it her all and took fourth place the 2009 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, Florida. A few months later in February 2010, she won her first major race, the Ironman 70.3 in Geelong, before finishing the year by winning the 2010 International Triathlon Union Long Distance Triathlon World Championships, and placing second at the 2010 Ironman World Championship.
2011 was a spectacular year for Xena, and she won practically every race she entered, becoming the Ironman European Champion and the Ironman Australia Champion. In 2012 she became the International Triathlon Union Long Course World Champion, the Ironman Asia-Pacific Champion and the Ironman European Champion, and a hard-fought 2nd at the Ironman World Championships. 2013 saw her take the Challenge Roth Championship and 70.3 Philippines.
Perhaps her biggest achievement so far in 2014 is her new home. Caroline is now ‘officially’ at home in Australia with Dellow and their latest addition to the family, a new Australian Cattle Dog/Bull Arab puppy, named Monty. Soon to be a serious training partner, Monty is currently focused on chewing her socks.