Chrissie Wellington made a winning return to the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.
The Colorado-based Briton lifted her fourth title in a time of eight hours, 55 minutes and eight seconds, to beat Mirinda Carfrae and GB's Leanda Cave.
The 34-year-old from Feltwell, Norfolk suffered heavy bruising in a training accident, preparing for the race.
"It's the hardest-fought victory of my career and definitely the one I'm most proud of," she told BBC Radio Norfolk.
"The grazes on my leg and elbow were the least of my worries, the internal bruising to my upper chest and hip caused the most pain.
"That's why I feel so proud. The mind is an amazing thing. The body may scream in agony but you can overcome that."
World record holder Wellington, unbeaten over the 140-mile distance - which comprise a 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile cycle and full marathon - finished just under three minutes ahead of Australia's reigning champion Carfrae in Kona.
"I'd have preferred a bigger cushion," she said. "But it was a true race. Normally, I lead from the front but I had to dig to the very depths of myself emotionally and physically.
"I came off the bike in sixth and had to run my way to victory, so it was a very different event this year, a phenomenal race."
Wellington, who missed the event in 2010 due to illness, was particularly pleased to claim back her title.
"To be crowned four-times world champion means everything," she said. "I'm so proud to hold that title and wear that crown.
"To be the figurehead and representative of our amazing sport is a dream come true," she added.
Fellow Britons Cave and Rachel Joyce finished third and fourth respectively, making it the nation's best-ever World Championships.
In the men's race, Australia's 2008 and 2009 champion Craig Alexander secured a third title with fellow Australian Pete Jacobs second and Germany's Andreas Raelert third.
In September, GB's Alistair Brownlee was crowned tritahlon world champion after pipping his brother Jonathan in the season-ending Grand Final in Beijing.