It may not have been the result she had dreamed of, but Chelsea Sodaro may never have been prouder when she crossed the finish line in Kona on Saturday.
The American star had shocked a good portion of the world last October when flying to an incredible victory in the 2022 IRONMAN World Championship.
Ultimately she was not able to successfully defend her title, but she finished sixth behind five of the sport’s other superstars in one of the deepest women’s pro fields ever assembled. Afterwards she was rightfully proud.
Chelsea Sodaro on Kona 2023
Writing on Instagram, she said: “Fought for every step. 🏻
“One of the mantras in our house is “we can do hard things” and that was on repeat in my head yesterday.
“Not the magical day that I dreamed of, but maybe my proudest finish ever. And I felt just as much love on course yesterday as I did while running to victory last year. This community is something else. 🙏🏼”
Sodaro had spoken at the pre-race press conference of how inspiring the sport can be, and how special it was for the women to have all of the attention this year on the Big Island of Hawaii. It was a message she re-iterated in her post-race debrief.
“Congrats to all of the women who competed. I loved sharing the course with you. What an honor. 💖”
Running through the field
Sodaro’s “fought for every step” message is borne out by the way her race went. She was 12th out of the water after a 54:00 swim – just under four-and-a-half minutes behind eventual winner Lucy Charles-Barclay. A 4:50:35 bike leg would leave her down in 20th position and with much to do.
Chelsea though fought back tenaciously on the final run, storming through the field to finish with a 2:53:02 marathon – the second fastest of the day with only new course record holder Anne Haug faster.