Chrissie Wellington came to Arizona to celebrate her fitness. She's leaving with another Ironman victory and another record.
What she won't have is bragging rights at home.
Wellington looked like a human vapor trail as she blistered the women's field - and the 140.6-mile course - at Sunday's Ford Ironman Arizona held at and around Tempe Town Lake.
The native of Great Britain finished in 8 hours, 36 minutes, 13 seconds beating the course record by a jaw-dropping 35 minutes. Her performance placed her seventh overall among the men.
"She is in another time zone from the rest of us. She has lifted the bar way, way out there," said Samantha McGlone, who did not race this year after setting the course record of 9:09 when she won the event last year.
"She is the most incredible endurance athlete on the planet right now."
German Timo Bracht won the men's race, also setting a course record in 8:07.16. He was followed by Denmark's Rasmus Henning (8:10.58) and Tom Ludlow (8:11.44), who was competing in his first Ironman and happens to be Wellington's boyfriend.
"I guess I'll have to do the dishes and cook the meals when we get home," said the always smiling Wellington about Ludlow's better finishing time. "Seriously, I couldn't ask for anything better than a first and third place. I am so proud of him."
Due to a severe illness, Wellington was not able to defend her three-year reign at the Ironman world championship in Kona, Hawaii, last month. She came to Arizona wanting another chance to showcase her hard work and to compete in her first Ironman on the mainland.
"It was incredibly disappointing not race in Kona," said Wellington, who holds the Ironman distance world record time of 8:19.13 which she set in Germany in 2007. "This was a way to display the hard work I put in."
Wellington's most serious challenge came on the bike course as she battled a flat tire and the windy conditions during the 112-mile ride. After finishing the 2.4-mile swim in 51:56 and the bike course in 4:47, she seemingly sprinted the 26.2-mile run in 2:52.56.
"I probably went a little too fast the first few miles of the run," said Wellington, who currently trains and lives in Boulder, Colo. "The conditions were incredibly difficult. The winds were difficult because they seemingly switched directions on each lap."
Linsey Corbin finished second in the women's race in 9:05.33. Tucson's Leanda Cave finished third at 9:13.50.
For Bracht, it is his sixth overall Ironman title. He also finished sixth at Kona on Oct. 9 and said he did not put in much training for this race. It didn't show as it took the lead for good on the bike and ran a 2:48 to hold off Henning.
"I knew Rasmus was a good runner, but I always believed in myself," said Bracht, who trailed Henning by about three minutes following the swim.
Henning entered the day also wanting to take advantage of his training after suffering a disappointing day in Kona.
"This tells me I'm a good enough athlete. That I can race especially if my head is in the right place even if not at peak of my fitness," Henning said.
For Lowe, he decided to enter the race when Wellington did. He had competed at three half-ironman distance events prior to Sunday.
"I was shaking my head," Lowe said when he was fifth overall after the bike portion. "This is a completely different animal (from the half distance)."
Wellington and Bracht grabbed the individual titles, but defending men's champ Jordan Rapp earned the emotional award.
Rapp, who held the course record of 8:13:35 before Sunday, was racing his first Ironman event since nearly being killed in a bike accident in March when he sustained jugular lacerations. After a lengthy hospital stay, and almost retiring from the sport, Rapp wanted to re-commit himself in Tempe.
"When you win you are on top of the world," said Rapp, who finished fourth at 8:16. "But today I feel like I got my life back. I got to defend my title, which is kind of a win for me."
The top five finishers for the men and women split a $50,000 purse.