Mirinda ‘Rinny’ Carfrae takes silver in her first race back from pregnancy

Carfrae was impressive in all three phases at Ironman 70.3 Timberman

Mirinda “Rinny” Carfrae had her second child, Finn, on Jan. 4. Seven months later, she was back on an Ironman 70.3 podium, taking second at Timberman in New Hampshire.

Carfrae was fast in all three phases of the race. Only Tamara Jewett, who ran a blistering 1:14:20 half marathon to beat Carfrae by 9:31, was better on the day. The result, Carfrae’s first since giving birth, should only boost her confidence for the remainder of the season.

“I’ve been racing for a long time now, and this is my second comeback after having a baby, so I was expecting to put together a decent performance,” Carfrae said after the race. “But I think I even exceeded what I was anticipating just given that Finn’s only seven months old and the training that I’ve done.”

Mirinda "Rinny" Carfrae on the run at Ironman 70.3 Timberman.

Carfrae took the podium with her first child, Izzy, who was celebrating her fourth birthday. It was a sweet day for an athlete who has now successfully returned to the elite ranks of triathlon twice after pregnancy

Carfrae finished the 1.2-mile swim in seventh place, 2:35 down on then-leader Ali Brauer and 50 seconds behind Jewett. Carfrae made up the deficit on the 56-mile bike, along with Jewett. Together, they trailed Brauer by approximately one minute. 

Carfrae got onto the run course ahead of Jewett, but Jewett, a decorated cross country runner, quickly showed off her strength. Carfrae’s 1:23:54 run time was the third fastest in the pro women’s division, and though it wasn’t close to an on-form Jewett, it was plenty fast enough to put her solidly in second. She finished nearly three minutes ahead of third-place Heather Jackson.

“I was able to bike up to equal second place, only a minute from the front,” Carfrae said. “And then I knew my run takes a little while to come back after having a baby, and I knew I wouldn’t be flying on the run, so I needed that buffer. It was enough to get second, so I’m really happy with that.”

When Carfrae signed with Trek in July, she reflected on returning to training for a second time after having a child, the uncertainty that enters the mind when the body takes so much time off racing, and the confidence needed to muscle through doubt. This time around, she knew she could set a high bar for herself.

“After having Izzy, that first race back, I really had no idea what to expect. I thought if I could get top five or top 10, that would be great,” Carfrae said. “After Izzy I literally had zero expectation, I was like, ‘I don’t even know if I can still do triathlons.’ And then this summer I’m like, ‘Well I know how to race triathlons, and as soon as I get out there, I’ll be able to get the best out of myself.'”

Rinny and Izzy on a training ride.

Carfrae’s performance at Timberman is proof of her words. She put in the hard effort, once again, to come back to an elite level. Her schedule for the rest of the season is fluid due to Covid, but she’s penciling in Ironman 70.3 Augusta in September, and two Olympic-distance events in October — St. Anthony’s Triathlon in Florida and Triathlon Los Angeles. 

From now on, there’s no telling what Carfrae can do.

“I was joking with Tim [O’Donnell], my husband, two babies is two times the motivation to get to that finish line,” Carfrae said. “I definitely thought of the little ones out in the run, just to get to that finish.”