When Patrick Lange won the Ironman World Championship last month, setting a course record in the process, he found enough energy for one final special moment.
Before falling to the ground from exhaustion, the German proposed to his girlfriend Julia at the finish line.
It was the perfect ending to a special day for Lange, who became the first athlete in history to go under eight hours on the 140.6-mile Hawaiian course.
In doing so, the 32-year-old defended his crown in a time of seven hours, 52 minutes, 39 seconds.
“I achieved the biggest goal in my life for the second time and then to be engaged with the love of my life, it just blew my mind. I cannot think of a better situation or a better day,” he told CNN’s Patrick Snell.
The Ironman World Championship has been held in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, every year since 1978. It serves as an idyllic location for one of sport’s toughest events.
Athletes begin with a 2.4-mile swim around the harbor before setting off on a 112-mile bike ride. After swapping two wheels for a pair of running shoes, participants finish with a marathon – 26.2 miles.
‘Hardest race ever’
Despite his record-setting time, Lange didn’t even have the best start. He was way behind after the swim but made up ground on the bike ride, a feat he credits to calm weather conditions.
A lack of wind made for grueling conditions in the marathon.
“It was probably the hardest race I ever did,” Lange said. “The marathon run was really hard because we had no winds. It was almost 120 degrees Fahrenheit over the asphalt [roads].”
Lange credits his ability to push through the pain-barrier to a tough mental attitude and stays positive by being grateful for the opportunity to race in such an elite setting.
“It’s incredible how far your mind can take you,” he said. “You really go through some dark places in the race and it’s really important to get out of that dark place and stay in the moment.”