The Perfect Race

Despite three wins in Kona, Mirinda Carfrae believes she can be better


Three times, on the biggest stage for the most prestigious and physically grueling multi-sport race in the world, she's been the best. In fact, if you go simply by times, she is the best. Her time of 8:52:14 in 2013 is the fastest ever time for a female competing at the Ironman World Championships in Kona. 

And yet, Mirinda Carfrae wants more. 

It's not that she's ungrateful for what she's achieved or unfulfilled in the way great athletes tend to be. Instead, as a world-class athlete in a sport that is about stealing seconds and being the best you can be on a single day, she's determined to get the most out of her ability while she can. And so, from her home base in Boulder, Colo., nearly 365 days a year, Carfrae is focused. She's focused on the single day in October when her body needs to be at its peak and able to withstand the demands she'll embark upon for nearly nine hours. 

As she says, "triathlon is a hard sport, it's not for the faint-hearted."

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Her desire to be Ironman World Champion for a fourth time is a full-time job. Swimming, cycling and running consume her day. And when she's not in the pool, on the bike or on the road logging miles, she's in the gym, tending to her sore muscles, fine-tuning her diet, keeping her sponsors happy, and occasionally finding time for a glass of wine with her husband (Tim O'Donnell, 3rd at Ironman Kona in 2015) and some friends. 

Fortunately, Boulder is a perfect training ground. Between the elevation, the active culture of the city, easy access to the mountains, a vibrant and eclectic community, trail runs in the shadow of the Flatirons and a major airport nearby, there's nothing that isn't readily available. 

I'm still trying to fine-tune, find an extra second here, steal an extra second there – all of those seconds add up... I think I can go faster, I think I can race faster. While I still believe that, I'm going to keep getting up, I'm going to keep training and I'm going to keep pushing through.

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At 35 years old, Mirinda is well into the run portion of her career, if we're using triathlon as a metaphor for life. She likely has 2 or 3 good years left to add that fourth (and maybe fifth?) world title to her legacy. But Kona will make the call. All the training and strategizing and total preparation can only do so much: come race day (on October 8th in 2016), Mirinda will take to the course and her body will dicatate what's possible. She'll look to maximize what her body is capable of, pushing herself up to the red line, and if things are going well, maybe just a little bit further. And why not? If things go as planned, she'll have added to her reputation as the "Queen of Kona." If the plan doesn't work out, Mirinda Carfrae will have another 365 days beginning on October 9th to seek that "perfect race." 

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