Sara Dossena of Italy, who finished 3rd at the 2015 Tiszaujvaros World Cup and made the podium at several Italian National Triathlon and Duathlon Championships, finished sixth at the New York City Marathon in a time of 2:29:39 – just 2:46 behind winner Shalane Flanagan of the U.S.
While Dossena’s performance raised interest among multisport aficionados, Flanagan’s win earned headlines among the U.S. running community as she outkicked three-time NYC winner Mary Keitany of Kenya. And Flanagan thus became the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon in 40 years.
Dossena took the lead of the women’s race from the start and held it at a 5:37 pace through four miles, then hung with the lead pack until Flanagan, Keitany and Mamitu Daska broke away in the final miles.
Prior to the race, Dossena wrote this post on Facebook: “We're so excited, guys.
“In these months the most frequent question was: what time do you want to do? Now I have the final answer: I don't know!
“I just want to enjoy this marathon without too much anxiety at times and passages. My goal is to give everything I can give right now without having to prove anything to anyone. I don't want to ruin it with too many calculations and mental charts. My debut I want to live with my heart.”
After the race, Dossena wrote: “It was an exciting experience.. Can’t describe it with words. To when the next? [Smiley face emoji]”
With her sixth place finish Dossena outperformed her far more well-known fellow triathlete Gwen Jorgensen, the 2016 Olympic Triathlon gold medalist, who last year finished the New York City Marathon in 14th place in a time of 2:41:01. (In fairness, Jorgensen didn't intend or expect or train for a high finish.)
The best previous performance by a female triathlete at the New York City Marathon was a 10th place in 2:39:30 by 2006 Ironman World Championship runner-up Desiree Ficker of Austin, Texas.
The 32-year-old Italian from Clusone, Italy is a professional runner who started elite triathlon and duathlon in 2010. During her running career Dossena raced cross country and 5,000 and 10,000 meters on the track, winning 5th in the Italian 10,000 meters in 2005 and 3rd in the 5,000 meters in 2006.
During her running career, Dossena suffered several injuries including a metatarsal microfracture in 2005 and 2007 followed by iliotibial band and plantar fascia problems that forced a long recovery and a hiatus from competition. On the advice of her coach Alberto Colli, Dossena put in time pedaling and swimming during her recovery and she agreed to try triathlon and duathlon upon her return to fitness.
In 2012 and 2013, she won two Italian duathlon titles and kept her running career on track with a 4th place at the Italian half marathon championship. While her decent swim and bike legs brought her modest recognition in multisport, Dossena’s athletic ace continued to be her run as evidenced by her PRs of 16:25.85 in 5,000 meters, 33:11.98 at 10,000 meters and 1:10:38 in the half marathon, in 2017.
In the last two years, she won she won the Italian sprint duathlon championship, took 7th in the Italian national triathlon championship and won the Italian Triathlon National championship in 2015. She podium’d at several European Continental Cup Triathlons and European Powerman Duathlons in the past two years with a competitive highlight a bronze at the Tiszaujvaros in 2015.
In February 2016, Dossena suffered another stress fracture, returning to training four months later, winning bronze at the European Cup Triathlon in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic and was fourth in both the European Cup sprint triathlon in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and at the European Challenge middle distance triathlon in Walchsee, Austria.
In 2017, Dossena won both Italian Duathlon National titles and on May 13, she won the Italian Championship in 10,000 meters on the track.