Chrissie Wellington retires from Ironman

Chrissie Wellington won the Ironman world championship for the fourth time on Oct. 8, 2011. AP Photo/Chris Stewart

After a year away from competing, four-time Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington has said that she will officially retire from iron-distance racing.

The decision from Wellington comes just under a year after she announced that she would take 2012 off from competing as a professional triathlete.

"Over the past 12 months I have had time to reflect and think, about my past and, of course, also of my future," Wellington said in a statement. "Being a professional Ironman athlete has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I have achieved more than I could have ever imagined, and been so fortunate to travel to some beautiful places, compete against the best in the world, and forge many lasting friendships. Those life-changing experiences and memories will stay with me forever."

The Ironman World Championship course record holder says that her final professional race at the 2011 Hawaii Ironman, where she competed despite several injuries sustained from a bike crash she suffered two weeks prior to race day, is how she would like to close out her career.

"As an athlete I sought 'the perfect race,'" Wellington said. "That race within myself where I dug to the depths mentally and physically, and that hard-fought race with my competitors. The World Ironman Championships in 2011 was the icing on the cake for me as an athlete. It was my 'perfect race' and it 'completed' me."

In her January 2012 interview with Triathlete.com, Wellington said the break was important because "racing cannot always be the axis around which my life revolves." She again emphasized that sentiment in Monday's announcement.

"My passion for the sport hasn't waned, but my passion for new experiences and new challenges is what is now burning the most brightly," the statement said. "Hence, I have got to the point where I know that it is right for me to retire from professional Ironman distance racing.

"Needless to say this decision has not come easy, but deep in my heart I know it is the right thing for me to do. My future will, of course, involve sport and triathlon -- but it will no longer be the axis around which my entire life revolves."

Wellington said she will continue to dedicate herself to charity work and will support her sponsors in an ambassador role.

In addition to being a four-time Ironman World Champion and Hawaii Ironman course record holder, Wellington also owns the world records for fastest iron-distance race (8:18:13 at 2011 Challenge Roth) and fastest Ironman race (8:33:56 at 2011 Ironman South Africa). Wellington has never been beaten at the iron-distance.

Read Wellington’s complete statement at Chrissiewellington.org.