Sara Svensk sets Ironman event world record in Cozumel!

No woman has ever completed the 140.6-mile course faster

After a blistering 2:58:02 marathon, Sara Svensk came back to win Ironman Cozumel this past weekend and made history in the process: With an overall time of 8:22:41, Svensk became the fastest woman ever to complete a full 140.6-mile Ironman-sponsored event.

“Out on the run I felt super strong, my legs were firing and I was ready to go hard,” Svensk said after the race. “After one lap I found myself in first position and I felt comfortable bringing the victory home if I just went steady and did my own race. I didn’t think about time — I never do — so I was happily surprised to set a new Ironman world record!”

Sara Svensk celebrating on the top step in Cozumel. | Photo: Karla Garalldo

Rain may have strengthened a current that was already in competitors’ favor during the swim, but Svensk still had plenty of work to do when she came out of the water in seventh, 3:48 behind leader Carrie Lester. Those same conditions made a mess of the bike course.

“IM Cozumel is known to be a pretty fast course with a current, which helped the swim, but it’s also hot, humid and windy,” Svensk said. “On race day we had great conditions with barely no wind compared to previous years, but with the monsoon rain going on and over-flooded roads, the bike leg got pretty crazy.”

With the new Speed Concept ... I have found a great position where I feel very comfortable, and with the disc brakes I didn’t have to worry about not being able to brake in the wet conditions.

Svensk navigated the elements with aplomb on the all-new Speed Concept, turning in a time of 4:33:10 over 112 miles. She was in third place overall when she got off her bike, and ran to victory from there. Her new bike was particularly well suited to the challenges Cozumel presented that day.

“My plan was to keep the bike steady, staying aero yet relaxed,” Svensk said. “With the new Speed Concept, I could really accomplish that. I have found a great position where I feel very comfortable, and with the disc brakes I didn’t have to worry about not being able to brake in the wet conditions.”

Cutting down the tape. | Photo: Karla Garalldo

Svensk’s achievement is particularly meaningful because of how she battled back from Covid-19 earlier in the year. Her season started well with a podium performance at Ironman 70.3 Dubai in March, but then complications from the illness derailed her training. She had to slowly rebuild her base towards a late season peak, beginning with easy walks, until she received an all-clear from doctors to compete again.

“Slowly but surely my fitness started to get back and I decided to race Ironman Mallorca, but that turned out to be a bump in the road and I had a DNF,” Svensk said. “I was still feeling super fit, and decided to go directly to Cozumel.”

The rest is history, quite literally. Svensk overcame a serious physical setback and accomplished something no woman triathlete ever has, making the absolute most out of her situation.