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Ironman legend Mirinda Carfrae retires

Australian considered one of the sport's greatest runners

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

One of the women we just proclaimed as amongst the most influential the sport has ever seen has just announced her retirement.

“I will be officially retiring from professional racing,” Mirinda Carfrae said in a video posted on the YouTube channel she shares with husband Tim O’Donnell. “It’s been coming. Last year, racing, my heart wasn’t really fully in it any more. I didn’t know if I’d be continuing racing this year until Kona. I raced through Santa Cruz, and at the time was wondering if that was going to be my last race …”

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Carfrae finished second in that race to fellow Aussie Sarah Crowley. While she was maintaining a 17- to 20-hour a week training schedule, with one year old Finn and four year old Isabel at home “my heart wanted to spend more time with them,” she said. “I couldn’t be a shell of a human, which is what you are when you’re training full time. Neither felt completely fulfilling for me.”

Mirinda Carfrae greets daughter Isabelle after winning Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant.

She fully came to the realization that she was ready to retire while in Kona last year supporting O’Donnell.

“I am OK with it being over,” she continued. “I’m good, I’m happy. I’m retiring because I want to spend more time with my family and kids.”

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Considered one of the greatest runners the sport has ever seen, Carfrae’s record at the Ironman World Championship was impressive. She finished second in her full-distance debut in 2009, won the race in 2010, 2013 and 2014, and took second again in 2011 and 2016, third in 2012 and fifth in 2018, a little over a year after the birth of daughter Izzy. She holds the run course record there – her 2:50:26 in 2014. Carfrae also won the 2007 Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

It’s hard to know exactly what made Carfrae so popular on the triathlon circuit, but for almost two decades she’s been one of the most popular pros in the sport. She’d typically win races thanks to a thrilling run leg – best embodied by her 2014 Kona win, where she overcame a 14-minute deficit to beat Daniela Ryf and take her third title. O’Donnell is also one of the sport’s most popular pros, and as a couple their fan base only grew. Her impressive return to racing as a new mom added to her popularity, too. Carfrae was always one of the most gracious and helpful pros to work with as a journalist, always willing to take the time to do an interview or provide a quote for a story. A “pros pro” is how most in the media room would describe her. That graciousness and thoughtfulness comes through when you see her as a mom – just check out that picture of her greeting Izzy at the finish line in Mont-Tremblant if you need any proof to back that statement.

In the video below you can see a number of tributes to Carfrae from friends, athletes, sponsors and others involved in the sport.

“Thank you so much for racing with such drive, strength, passion, determination and integrity,” said Chrissie Wellington, the four-time Kona champion . “You brought out the best in me. Thank you so much for everything you brought to the sport. The world of triathlon is so much better with you in it.”