The USA’s Jordan Rapp and Great Britain’s Rachel Joyce are the newest ITU World Champions, after the 2011 Long Distance Triathlon World titles were run in the Nevada desert at the weekend.
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. Therefore, the overall time split determined each winner. For more on the modification, please click here.
She had history on her side and Rachel Joyce made the most of it, capturing her first and Great Britain’s sixth ITU long distance world title on a cold day in the Nevada desert.
Joyce recorded the second-fastest run split of the day, just behind Great Britain teammate Leanda Cave, but her better bike leg – 3 hours 33 minutes and 9 seconds to Cave’s 3:36:42 – was enough to hand Joyce the win and Cave the silver. Just four weeks after Joyce finished fourth at Kona and Cave third, Joyce’s overall time was 5 hours 34 minutes and 15 seconds to Cave’s 5:37:35. The USA’s Meredith Kessler claimed the bronze with a time of 5:40:45.
In the women’s race, the early pace and fastest bike split was posted by Australia’s Nikki Butterfield with a time of 3 hours 31 minutes and 13 seconds for the 120km bike, two minutes ahead of Joyce. That duo were closely followed into T2 by Kessler and Cave.
But both Cave and Joyce, who had started right at the back of the time trial based women’s start, started to kick early in the run and they quickly moved up through the field. By lap two of the run Joyce moved into the lead, Cave moved into second place on lap three. In a close battle for bronze, Kessler just edged Butterfield.
The result means that Great Britain are now the equal most successful nation at ITU long distance world championships. In the 15 year history of the event, Denmark have won six titles – five men’s and one women’s. Great Britain now also have six, with five titles coming from the elite women’s field and one men’s. Apart from Caroline Steffen‘s (SUI) win last year, in a race where Great Britain didn’t have any entrants, British women had won the previous four ITU long distance world titles thanks to Chrissie Wellington, Bella Comerford, Jodie Swallow and Cave. Click here for full recap
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 completing his comeback with an Ironman race win and becoming a dad. Rapp and wife Jill Savege – a Pan Am Games triathlon gold medallist – had son Quentin in June. He then won Ironman Canada in emphatic style in August, before heading to Henderson, Nevada, for the long distance worlds.
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 three minute gap 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.