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Catching Up With An Ironman World Champion: Mirinda Carfrae

Mirinda "Rinny" Carfrae is no stranger to pushing through the final miles of a marathon to cross a finish line.

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Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae is no stranger to pushing through the final miles of a marathon to cross a finish line. She’s highly regarded in the triathlon world for her ability to run down competition after the bike portion of a triathlon. In fact, Rinny never runs a marathon alone. She’s only ever run the distance after completing a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride. She is an Ironman athlete.

As the 2010 Ironman Women’s World Champion, Rinny entered the 2012 race as a fierce contender hoping to snag another title. In 2011, she made run course history by running a race-best marathon time of 2:52:09 (that’s after covering 114.4 miles on the swim and bike!). As the 2012 race unfolded this past Saturday, Rinny came off the bike in fifth place and quickly transitioned to her run gear before setting out to chase down the four women ahead of her. She successfully passed two competitors and held the third place spot throughout majority of the course. Race spectators held their breath hoping to see Rinny turn on the magic and reel in the top two women in the final miles of the race. Though she wasn’t able to catch them, she clearly depleted all effort as she crossed the finish line and immediately fell to her knees in exhaustion. With a total time of 9:21:41, Rinny finished the 2012 Ironman Kona World Championship race in third place behind Caroline Steffen in second and Leanda Cave in first.

Women’s Running caught up with Rinny a few days before the race to talk strategy, what she loves to do outside of sport and what’s next on her agenda after the Ironman World Championship. Take a look at our interview here:

Women’s Running: What does the Ironman World Championship race in Kona mean to you?

Mirinda Carfrae:  Obviously this is THE most important race in the sport – the one everyone aspires to win. Having had the honor once, it fuels me even more to win here again. It’s not the sort of thing that’s one and done – I don’t think I’ll ever lose my fire for the crown as long as I’m racing.

WR: You hold a course record last year for the women’s marathon at the Ironman Kona World Championship, and finished in overall second place behind Chrissie Wellington. Did chasing Chrissie help you set that record?

MC: Of course chasing Chrissie motivated me to push hard last year. But at the same time, had I been in the lead I would have been motivated to push just as hard, whether to chase the record or to make sure and keep the lead. More than anything it comes down to giving every bit of what I have on the day – and whatever position I’m in, chasing or being chased, I’ll dig as deep as I possibly can.

WR: The last couple of miles on a marathon are known to be the toughest – and this must only be compounded in an Ironman race. How do you battle through the last 5 miles?

MC: You have to keep focus – on everything. Those last bits of nutrition and hydration can be critical but too easily forgotten at the end of the marathon. Your form tends to fall apart in the last miles if you don’t keep check of yourself. That being said, once you reach the final mile, if your race is going good you barely feel it – you practically fly!

WR: What’s your favorite type of run training?

MC: Hard efforts. Nothing like a sprint to get the blood pumping and the body firing!

WR: What’s your favorite pre-race meal?

MC: It’s always the same and quite simple – chicken and rice with tomato sauce.

WR:  What’s your favorite post-race meal?

MC: A big dirty burger! (A dirty burger is a burger with all of the works!)

WR: What’s your favorite thing to do that’s not related to sport or training?

MC: I love time with my family (especially my nieces and nephews), time with friends, time at the beach and getting to know good wine!

WR: What is it like being in a relationship with a fellow pro triathlete? (Mirinda is engaged to pro triathlete Tim O’Donnell.)

MC: I wouldn’t have it any other way. Tim and I get to chase our dreams and ambitions all over the world together. We often train together and we try to align our race and travel schedules, or at least the times that we peak for races, as much as possible. Most of all, just having a shared understanding of what we’re each going through – the ups and downs of the sport – is so important to us both.

WR: How will you celebrate finishing the race? What’s next on your schedule?

MC: Aside from the big dirty burger post-race, Tim and I are taking a Hawaiian holiday this year. We’re going to Kauai with Julie and Mike Dibens, where I’m sure we’ll treat ourselves to all sorts of food and adult beverages and sleeping in! I’m considering another late season race, depending how things go on Saturday – but I won’t make that decision until afterward.

For the latest news and to find out where Mirinda is racing next, check out her website: