Sarah True's amazing Ironman year

American Olympian Sarah True burst onto the Ironman scene in 2018 with a runner-up finish in Frankfurt and fourth at the Ironman World Championship.

| October 31, 2018 | PERSONALITY

Photo >James Mitchell / Activ Images

One might be forgiven in thinking Sarah True is finding her move to Ironman racing a bit of a breeze. In her debut she finished second at the Ironman European Championship in Frankfurt. Her second full-distance race saw her take fourth at the Ironman World Championship.

Those results were not easy, she is quick to assure us.

"The last 20 km of that run was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life," True said after the race in Kona. "It definitely was not easy. I went to some dark places."

"I am proud to be fourth, but it hurt a lot," she continued. "When you blow up in the heat, it’s not pretty. That’s what Kona does."

As painful as it might have been, True will be back for more racing on the Big Island.

"That’s the thing about this place – you get the Kona bug," she says. "My coach has had a two year plan for me and, basically, this was the first year to get experience and next year is the 'getting better performance out of me' year."

True is yet another example of the new face of long-distance racing. A two-time Olympian, she finished fourth at the 2012 games. Unfortunately, in 2016 a cramp put her out of the race. The speed she brings to Ironman racing, though, bodes well for continued success. She posted the day's fastest marathon in Frankfurt (2:54) and a 2:57 marathon in Kona, behind only Anne Haug, who finished third and champion Daniela Ryf. She feels her short-distance background has definitely been a factor in her full-distance success.


"One thing you notice with the experienced Ironman athletes is that they do lose speed the more that they do it," True observed. "Someone might be a sub-three hour marathoner earlier in their career and year by year it gradually starts going up. I have a coach who strongly believes in doing high-end VO2 max stuff, so we still train speed. So even though I am not doing ITU anymore, it’s a big component of what I do."

That coach is Dan Lorang, the same man who coaches Jan Frodeno and also works with Anne Haug, who finished one spot ahead of True in Kona.

Next up for True is a well-deserved break (one that she wants to ensure is "long enough that I have forgotten this experience and how painful it is") - then it will be time to plan her 2019 season and which full-distance event she'll race to get herself back to Kona to continue that two-year plan Lorang has in mind for her.