Mirinda Carfrae celebrates “one of the best races I’ve ever had”

A huge bike ride at Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant saw Mirinda Carfrae arrive in T2 with a huge lead, one which she added to by the finish line. A chat with the three-time Kona champ about her breakthrough bike performance and the return of her running legs.

| June 26, 2019 | PERSONALITY

Mirinda Carfrae surges towards the front on the bike at Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant.

Mirinda Carfrae surges towards the front on the bike at Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

In taking last weekend’s Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant, Mirinda Carfrae put herself in some new territory, pulling clear of the rest of the women in the field on the bike, before opening up more time on the field during the run. The race was even more impressive because just two days before Carfrae had found herself in need of six stitches in her calf after a freak accident (when a bottle fell and broke, a piece of glass cut her calf).

“I think that was one of the best races I’ve ever had – in all three sports,” she said in an interview after the race. “I’m still not a great swimmer, but I biked really strong. But to run well off of that … I used to be a “one-trick pony,” but now I’m able to put together a good bike.”

Carfrae required six stitches after a freak accident two days before the race.

Carfrae required six stitches after a freak accident two days before the race.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

Since Carfrae and husband Tim O’Donnell celebrated the birth of daughter Isabelle 22 months ago, Carfrae has changed the way she trains, especially on the bike, and she credits her improved biking to those changes.

“I put it down to way more time on the trainer,” she said. “I just don’t have as much time to ride as much as I used to, so all the bike rides I do are quality and they count.”

Despite feeling like she’d improved her cycling, Carfrae was still surprised to move through the field on the bike after trailing the leaders out of the water by two minutes.

“I was very surprised to see the girls,” she said. “I think I caught them around 30 km … I didn’t expect to see them that soon. These girls can ride – some of the best cyclists in the sport – Meredith Kessler, Lauren Goss, Rachel McBride – to see that I was catching them and putting time into them …

“I was shocked,” she continued. “’Now what do I do when I’m at the front – I’m never at the front. What do you do up here?’ It was really nice to be in that position and in control a little bit. Pretty much every other race I do I’m chasing all day long and maybe, by the end, I can see the front of the race. It was a unique position for me, and I quite enjoyed it.

Cafrae extended her four-minute lead off the bike by a few more minutes thanks to the day\'s fastest run.

Cafrae extended her four-minute lead off the bike by a few more minutes thanks to the day's fastest run.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

For Carfrae the race signaled that she’s making some big improvements from last year, both on the bike and with her run.

“I felt like I raced on emotion last year … but it didn’t feel great. A lot of races I got off the bike and I felt like I was 100 years old and hobbling out of transition. Now I’m starting to feel like I’m starting to come back into myself. It feels great to be able to run again.”

All that said, Carfrae is all-too-aware that there is still lots more work to do if she is to contend for another Ironman title.

“Early season races are all well and good, and their good indicators, but they mean nothing when it comes to Kona,” she said. “You have to put together a pretty monumental performance. Things are looking good, but I still have a big mountain to climb before Kona. I’m climbing that mountain slowly, hopefully we get there by October. Riding well here in Tremblant, where there’s no pressure, is one thing, but riding well in Kona is another beast. It’s a good indicator, I’m excited, but I still have a lot of work to do.”