His time of 7:56:41 in 2018 would have won every previous edition of the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona.
However, just a matter of four minutes earlier, the eight-hour barrier had been shattered for the very first time by defending champion Patrick Lange.
But this, on the back of his Challenge Roth heroics a year earlier, was the performance which underlined Bart Aernouts' position at the very highest level of long-distance triathlon.
The Belgian has been a winner throughout his career, across a range of distances - first in duathlon and then triathlon.
The undoubted highlight of his duathlon days was winning the 2010 ITU World Championships in Edinburgh.
And he wasted little time making an impact in triathlon, racking up multiple 70.3 wins in 2011 - in Antwerp, Syracuse and Poconos Mountains.
In 2012 he competed in his first full-distance race, placing 10th in Melbourne, and rounded out the season with an eye-catching second place in IRONMAN France.
Renowned for his calmness under race pressure, the Belgian's relentless rise up the ladder was confirmed when he won the iconic Challenge Roth in 2017 at his very first attempt.
That mental strength has proved an asset throughout, perfectly summarised by triathlon legend Bob Babbitt who says: "Everyone else is playing checkers out there - and he's playing chess."
A fast finish allied to a razor-sharp mind
Bart's journey to the pinnacle of long-distance triathlon has featured many pivotal moments, with Luc Van Lierde exerting a significant influence.
Indeed it was watching compatriot Van Lierde's victories in Hawaii in the late 1990s that inspired a young Aernouts to take up the sport.
He'd run and cycled from an early age and, after a brief initial foray into triathlon, it was duathlon where he first made his mark.
He made an immediate impression in that sphere, qualifying almost straight away for the World Championships in 2005.
And by 2008 he was on the podium for the first time. That opened up funding opportunities and the chance to transition to triathlon, but not before signing off with a World Championship title in the run/bike/run sphere on an emotional day in Edinburgh in 2010.
On a course which three years earlier had seen him crowned the U23 European champion, Bart led home a Belgian one-two-three from Rob Woestenborghs and Joerie Vansteelant.
Understandably the focus in those formative years was on his swimming, with lots of work done in conjunction with coach Ronald Gaastra in Antwerp.
But as he improved and his experience grew, so did the wins tally. There have been 70.3 successes in Austria, Germany (for the European Championship) and Bahrain, while at iron-distance France and Lanzarote have also seen him cross the line in triumph.
That Lanzarote victory in May 2017 came less than two months before his first appearance at Challenge Roth - and what a debut it proved to be.
In front of over a quarter of a million fans, he beat Joe Skipper and Maurice Clavel, all with his first sub-eight-hour finish (7:59:07).
"I think it's going to be hard to find a more special race - the atmosphere was incredible, and there's no finish-line experience like it," he explains. "So many people are on the bike and run routes and all the cheering really does help you."
And he continued to go from strength to strength. The following year Bart advertised his Kona claims with a dominant display at IRONMAN Hamburg.
That event saw him showcase his duathlon background to great effect after a cancelled swim was replaced by an extra 6km run, eventually crossing the line over seven minutes ahead of his nearest rival.
And after three previous top-10 placings, he then went on to make the podium for the first time on that astonishing day in Kona.
The 40th-anniversary edition saw Bart and winner Patrick Lange became the first men to smash the eight-hour mark. "I'd rather win in 8:30!" he said afterwards, but the performance showed yet again that he was one of the sport's very best.
The fact that Aernouts often has significant ground to make up after the swim only adds to the excitement for the watching public - though his rivals may see it differently.
At his Challenge Roth victory, he was in 23rd place when getting out of the water - while he was 40th at Kona a year later en route to second.
His marathon times on those landmark days were 2:44:10 and 2:45:42 respectively.
Another top 10 at Kona - his fifth in eight attempts - followed in 2019.
And Aernouts started 2020 in perfect style, winning back at 70.3 distance with a time of 3:33:45 in Dubai - again displaying his now-customary surge through the field to make up almost three and a half minutes after the swim and beat the previous course record by over a minute.
One of the final pieces of the jigsaw in turning a Kona top-10 into a podium place had been linking up with the man who had inspired Aernouts to take up the sport in the first place – Luc Van Lierde.
He was the first European to win at Kona when he triumphed in 1996, adding a second title three years later.
And in 2013 he notched a notable double when he coached Frederick Van Lierde (no relation) to Hawaii glory.
He linked up with Aernouts in late 2017 and the two quickly forged a hugely effective partnership, with subtle changes to the training regime and that experience as a winning athlete and coach paying huge dividends.
Van Lierde describes the process as "fine-tuning the engine", and the combination of factors all helped Aernouts produce that perfect race for his 7:56 at Kona.
All the time, his mental strength and composure have proved invaluable. "What makes the difference on race day is having the right mindset - right from the start and for all eight hours. Patience is the key at Kona" Bart explains.
“A race is only over at the finish line. Never forget this when you have a tough time, try to stay positive and keep fighting.”
And while Aernouts has the uncanny ability to focus on his race rather than get drawn into an unnecessary battle, he does relish the epic nature of long-distance triathlon. "I just love the competition; I think that's why I really enjoy what I do."
But away from the sport, it's all about trying to make as much time as possible for his daughter and family.
"The biggest sacrifice we make is being away from them for races and training."