Jordan Rapp and Mary Beth Ellis dominated the inaugural Ironman U.S. Championship on a very hot day in New York City – duplicating their winning performances in May at Ironman Texas.
Rapp combined a swift, current-aided, top-20 41:45 swim in the Hudson River, a dominating race-fastest 4:26:34 split on a bike course with 3,900 feet of climbing, and a race-best 2:59:21 marathon run to hit the line in 8:11:18. Rapp earned his second big Ironman win of 2012 with a 13 minutes, 14 seconds margin of victory over runner-up Maxim Kriat of the Ukraine and 15:42 over 3rd-place finisher Jozsef Major of Hungary.
“This was the hottest run I’ve ever done, I was right on the red line the whole way, said Rapp during Ironman Live online coverage. Rapp added that winning the U.S. Championship just a few miles from his boyhood home was important. “I grew up just a few miles away. This is my home town and I’ll be damned if someone else was going to come into my city and win!”
Ellis combined a women’s 2nd-fastest 40:33 swim, a 2nd-fastest 5:04:33 bike split, and a gutsy women’s-fastest 3:14:32 marathon to finish a very tough course in an impressive 9:02:48 time. Rebekah Keat of Australia ran down Amy Marsh of the U.S. in the final miles to take 2nd in 9:13:24 with a 2:33 margin over the Austin, Texas-based Marsh.
“This is amazing,” said Ellis. “The moment I heard this race I knew it was one I really wanted to do. This is a really great building block for Kona – a great step along the way this year.”
Rapp and Ellis both won took the 5th Ironman victory of their careers. Rapp’s New York win comes after victories at Arizona and Canada in 2009, Canada in 2011 and Memorial Hermann Ironman Texas in May. Ellis’s win is her 5th in 6 Ironman starts and comes after Ironmans wins at Austria, Regensburg, Germany and Canada in 2001 and Ironman Texas this May.
His dominating second Ironman win at major U.S. events this year, which earned a maximum 4,000 Ironman qualifying points, as well as the $25,000 winner's check, has Rapp confirming that he will finally start at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii.
Rapp has contended for several years that he wouldn’t race Ironman Hawaii until he was prepared to race for the win. “It is going to be tough – it will be my third Ironman this year,” said Rapp on Ironman Live's webcast. “But after Texas, I guess I ran out of reasons not to go to Hawaii. I broke the 2:50 barrier on the run there [he ran 2:46:55 in Texas to come back from a 12-minute deficit. But after a race-best bike split in New York, found a 2:59:21 run did the job just as well].
The Men’s Race
Luke Bell of Australia was first out of the swift, current-aided 2.4 mile swim in 39:08. followed by Timothy Marr (39:11), Paul Ambrose (39:12), TJ Tollakson (39:15), Mathias Hecht (39:55), Michael Lovato (40:02), Maik Twelsiek (41:01), Bert Jammaer (41:02), and Maxim Kriat (41:04). Most significantly, Jordan Rapp’s 41:45 split gave him 2:37 deficit starting the bike.
Facing the strong field was a bike leg with 3,900 feet of climbing. While there was no one daunting climb, there was an unrelenting roster of 300 to 400-foot climbs designed to eliminate pretenders.
By 11 miles of the bike, Paul Ambrose had taken a 1 minute lead on TJ Tollakson and 1:37 on Luke Bell, while Rapp had advanced to 7th while falling 20 seconds further back of the leader. By the 56-mile mark, Ambrose maintained his lead by 1:58 over Tollakson, with Rapp advancing to 3rd place while falling to 3:20 back. At Mile 83, Ambrose led, but Rapp passed Tollakson to advance to 2nd and cut the deficit to Ambrose to 1:15 and led Tollakson by 14 seconds.
A few minutes later, Tollakson rallied from 3rd and took the lead. Just minutes later, Rapp surged and took the lead himself. By Mile 101, Rapp led by 25 seconds over Ambrose, 1:22 over Tollakson, and roughly 6:45 -6:55 over a tight 9-man pack that included Christian Brader, Bert Jammaer, Maik Twelsiek, Joszef Major, Markus Thomschke, Maxim Kriat, Timothy Marr, Luke Bell and Mathias Hecht.
When they hit T2, Rapp had ridden a race-best 4:26:354 split and taken a 2:29 lead on Ambrose and 2:34 on Tollakson.
As the race would play out, most significantly Maxim Kriat was 7th, 8:25 down, and Jozsef Major was 10th, with an 8:42 deficit starting the run.
The run wasted no time in testing the contenders, beginning with a 0.7-mile grade and Rapp began the work of systematically shaking off all rivals. By Mile 7, he was running at 2:50 marathon pace and had a 6:37 lead on Tollakson and 8:58 on a grimly fading Ambrose. Major was already making his move and lay 4th 9:09 down and the dangerous Kriat was 9:51 back in 5th.
At 14 miles, Rapp held a 9:39 advantage on Tollakson, 11:43 on Kriat, 12:45 on Markus Thomschke, and 13:04 on Major.
By 17 miles., Rapp seemed to have put away the field and led by 12:02 on Tollakson. Kriat was charging, just 37 seconds back of Tollakson, with Thomschke another 1:19 further back and Major advancing, just 37 seconds back of the German.
At Mile 23, Rapp had slowed to 6:42 per mile but was still increasing his lead to 13:49 on Kriat and 15:54 on Major. Canadian Trevor Wurtele meanwhile was making a major charge to 5th place, 19:25 down while Tollakson had fallen to 6th.
At the end, Rapp was the only man to break 3 hours on the run and crossed the line with a 13:14 margin on Kriat (3:04:15 run), 15:42 on Major (3:06:12 run), and 18:02 margin on the fast closing Wurtele (3:01:21 run).
The Women’s Race
Mary Beth Ellis emerged from the swim in 40:33 with a 4-seconds deficit to Dede Griesbauer and 2 seconds advantage on Amy Marsh and 1:01 on 6th-best swimmer Rebekah Keat.
Halfway through the bike, Marsh led Ellis by 2 seconds, an the two of them had a 2:32 advantage on Keat, 2:46 on Christie Sym, 3:21 on Kate Bevilaqua and 3:24 on Griesbauer.
By the end of the bike, Marsh had posted a race-best 5:03:01 split and charged to a 54-seconds lead over Ellis (5:04:03 split ) at T2, with Sym 7:22 down, Keat 9:32 back, and Heleen Bij de Vaate 15:01 in arrears.
“Amy and I had a similar pace and used each other to go faster,” Ellis said on Ironman Live after the race. “We stayed together to Mile 100. Because I felt she was such a strong biker, I let her go at that point. I wanted to minimize the damage and save something for the run because that is definitely the hardest run course I’ve faced.”
On the run, there was little drama as Ellis ran a race-best 3:14:32 to a 10:36 winning margin on runner-up Keat (3:15:43 run) and 13:09 advantage of 3rd-place Marsh (3:28:25 run).
While Ellis was thrilled, Keat was very happy with her race as she had been hampered by leg woes for much of the first half of the 2012 season.
Aquadraat Sports Ironman U.S. Championship
New York, New York
August 11, 2012
S 2.4 mi. / B 112 mi. / R 26.2 mi.
1. Jordan Rapp (USA) 8:11:18 -- $25,000
2. Maxim Kriat (UKR) 8:24:32
3. Jozsef Major (HUN) 8:27:00
4. Trevor Wurtele (CAN) 8:29:20
5. Markus Thomschke (GER) 8:30:02
6. TJ Tollakson (USA) 8:33:01
7. Bert Jammaer (BEL) 8:34:59
8. Pedro Gomes (POR) 8:38:30
9. Luke Bell (AUS) 8:39:20
10. Chris McDonald (AUS ) 8:41:30
1. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 9:02:48 -- $25,000
2. Rebekah Keat (AUS) 9:13:24
3, Amy Marsh (USA) 9:15:57
4. Sarah Piampiano (USA) 9:30:29
5. Tamara Kozulina (UKR) 9:33:23
6. Michelle Bremer (NZL) 9:36:11
7. Haley Scott-Cooper (USA) 9:44:17
8. Michelle Mitchell (AUS) 9:45:42
9. Jacqui Gordon (USA) 9:48:58
10. Laurel Wassner (USA) 9:49:24