He didn’t have much of a year in 2010, but the USA’s Jordan Rapp can now add ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championship to the list of achievements he’s ticked off in 2011.
Rapp was hit by a car on a training ride in California in March last year and in addition to broken bones, lost around two litres of blood where glass had sliced into jugular veins. If not for first aid applied by an off-duty Navy officer who was passing by, it could have been fatal.
But this year, he can now add ITU World Champion to the list that includes winning his comeback Ironman race and becoming a dad. Rapp and wife Jill Savege - a Pan Am Games gold medallist and World Cup winner - had Quentin in June. He then won Ironman Canada in emphatic style in August, before heading to Henderson, Nevada for the long distance worlds.
The race was modified early on Saturday morning due to cold air and water temperatures, forcing the swim leg to be cancelled for athlete safety. Instead athletes started the bike in staggered five-second interval starts. The overall time split therefore determined each winner.
Early on, it looked like Denmark’s Martin Jensen might be able to go a few places better than the two bronze medals he has already collected at ITU long distance worlds, when he established a six minute lead on the technical and hilly 120 bike leg - that included an estimated 6000 feet elevation rise.
The next athletes to come into T2 - with only a few seconds between them were - defending champion Sylvain Sudrie (FRA), Joe Gambles (AUS) and Rapp. There was then a gap of three minutes to the fifth place held by Michael Raelert (GER). At the beginning of the run it looked like Jensen would be able to hold on, but Rapp had other ideas, as he moved steadily through the field and then closed the gap. At the start of the final lap, Rapp overtook Jensen and went on to win by almost three minutes, in a time of 5 hours and 15 seconds, with the fastest run split of 1 hour, 49 minutes and 31 seconds.
But the battle for podium places still wasn’t over, as Gambles and Sudrie kept their pace to the end and recorded time of 5.02.57 and 5.03.23 for silver and bronze. In the end, the difference between Gambles and Sudrie came down to transition, Gambles time in T2 was 33 seconds faster than Sudrie.