Dashing Brit Tim Don returned to the red-hot form that gave him an upset win at the 2006 ITU World Championship in Lausanne as he bolted away from his competitors early on in the run to win the Hy-Vee ITU Elite Cup event in Des Moines, Iowa and a $200,000 check. Kiwi Kris Gemmell, who took fourth in the epic sprint to the finish last year at Hy-Vee, improved to a $50,000 second place this year as he won a finish line sprint with Aussie Courtney Atkinson, who was third.
"This feels absolutely amazing," Don told ITU media. "I felt great at the start of the run and just tried to hang on for the whole thing. I was really hurting to hold them off at the end."
While the 50-man lead pack on the bike seemed tailor made for Don's explosive run, the shaggy man who ran a 28:56 at an accurately measured 10k road race that turned out to be less than a minute behind distance running legend Haille Gebrselassie said before this race that big triathlons are never won only on the run. As evidence, Don made a brave solo break to bridge the gap to the lead bike pack at Lausanne in 2006 before out-running 2004 Olympic champion Hamish Carter for the win.
On this day, all the great runners rested on the bike, but no one was ready or able to go with the Brit when he charged out of T2.
"I tried to go with him for a kilometer," said 2008 Olympic Champion Jan Frodeno. "But soon I was unable to keep the pace and had to let him go."
Kris Gemmell said he, too, tried to go with Don. "But after a kilometer my coach told me we had run 2:41 and I knew I would blow up unless I held back. Still, I am glad Jan Frodeno pushed us because I might not have been in position to make the podium otherwise."
Frodeno faded to 5th, which he counted as a good performance after a tough race in Madrid a week before.
Tim Don does elation after a big win almost better than anyone in the sport and was over the moon after this one. "I've just married and we have a child on the way and so this check will come in very handy. People say you perform better when you're happy, and I believe it."
Don's running prowess most resembles legendary Czech distance runner Emile Zatopek in that his herky-jerky running style and strained facial expressions seem to indicate a man on the verge of a painful death. But while Don is not a smooth stylist, he follows in Zatopek's footsteps in the sense that both men can rise to the biggest occasions. Zatopek won the 5,000, 10,000 and marathon at the 1952 Olympics. And Don has now won an ITU World Championship and the biggest check in the sport. With the 2012 Olympics on home ground in London, don't write Don off.
Related image galleries
Pre race Hy-Vee Elite Cup images
The Hy-Vee Elite Cup race image gallery
Hy-Vee ITU Elite Cup
Des Moines, IA
June 13, 2010
S 1.5k / B 40k / R 10k
Top 10 men
1. Tim Don (GBR) 1:50:20
2. Kris Gemmell (NZL) 1:50:23
3. Courtney Atkinson (AUS) 1:50:28
4. Bevan Docherty (NZL) 1:50:34 0:00:14
5. Jan Frodeno (GER) 1:50:37
6. William Clarke (GBR) 1:50:39
7. Dmitry Polyansky (RUS) 1:50:43
8. Dan Wilson (AUS) 1:50:46
9. Jarrod Shoemaker (USA) 1:50:49
10. Clark Ellice (NZL) 1:50:54
Other United States Finishers
19. Chris Foster (Redondo Beach, Calif.) 1:51:52
21. Matt Reed (Boulder, Colo.) 1:52:11
24. Manuel Huerta (Miami, Fla.) 1:52:21
25. Ben Collins (Seattle, Wash.) 1:52:23
26. Matt Chrabot (Colorado Springs, Colo.) 1:52:26
28. Mark Fretta (Portland, Ore.) 1:52:34
48. Kevin Collington (Orlando, Fla.) 1:54:44
60. TJ Tollakson (Des Moines, Iowa) 2:07:27