Jordan Rapp won the inaugural Leadman Lifetime Epic 250 Saturday in blazing heat and nasty winds. It took the Ironman Canada and Ironman Arizona champion 9:32:19 to finish the 5k swim, 229k bike and 22k with more than 5,000 feet of climbing over the forbidding Nevada desert. As always, the Princeton grad had some provocative thoughts about his experience.
Slowtwitch: Why did you say right after the race that this was the toughest race you've ever done?
Jordan Rapp: It’s just really far. And the heat and wind were a big factor. The bike course is what makes it tough, no question. The run course is not easy - and I'm certainly glad I didn't have to race the run, but it's very manageable. But the bike is just relentless. It's always up or down. And we got the worst luck - a very light tailwind on the way out that built into a raging head/crosswind on the way back.
ST: So do you stand by your declaration that this was the toughest?
Jordan: I'd actually probably correct my statement that it's the "toughest" race I've ever done. I think this was the most challenging or difficult race course I've ever done. But I'd say that because it was basically you vs. the course, that's always - in many ways - easier than when it's you vs. a competitor. I think there's nothing tougher than having to sprint for the line at the end of any race, even a sprint. But this was the most challenging/difficult course I've done, and it was entirely because of the bike course (and conditions on that course).
ST: Would you have done it if you'd known how painful it would be?
Jordan: Who said it was painful?
ST: If not painful, what was it?
Jordan: This was just that dull ache. Plus I knew it was going to end.
ST: When did you take the lead?
Jordan: About 50 miles into the bike.
ST: Which opponent did you fear/respect the most?
Jordan: The clock.
ST: Did you share any words during the race or post race with Matt Lieto or Kevin Everett (both of whom dropped out after the bike) or Troy Jacobson (who finished 2nd man and 3rd overall behind Angela Naeth)
Jordan; Nope. The finish is away from T1/T2, so I never saw Kevin & Matt after the race. And during the race, I race. To paraphrase the great Peter Reid, "talking is for training days." I don't know Troy at all, so didn't really feel compelled to speak with him.
ST: What does this event do for the sport of triathlon?
Jordan: I'm not sure. I don't think this event, currently, does much of anything. It's where they choose to take this event next year - and beyond - that could have the impact.
ST: Not a change of venue, but rather a growth in numbers and attention?
Jordan: Races come and go. This race needs to establish itself. Otherwise it's just a fringe event - like Inferno - interesting, but not really compelling in a significant way. I think it shows right now only that Lifetime was willing to take a risk on doing something different and doing something long (as opposed to their traditional Olympic distance races). If they grow this race and expand their interest in longer races -- THAT is compelling. A [field size of] 40ish people and a staggering DNF rate isn't - and shouldn't be - the sort of thing that a race should aspire to be.
ST: Which particular moment was toughest? Which climb?
Jordan: Some of the descents where you went in and out of the wind-shadow of various berms. So you'd have no wind behind the berm, and then the berm would end and - BAM! The wind would hit you.
ST: Describe why the extra .7 of a mile in the swim and 28 miles more of the bike makes this tougher than an Ironman – or is it? How much of a relief was -- or was not? -- the 12.5 miles shorter run?
Jordan: The extra swimming wasn't any tougher. If you are adequately prepared to race a 3.8km swim, you are adequately prepared to race a 5km swim. The problems come when you aren't prepared for 3.8. Then you definitely aren't prepared for 5km.
ST: Where will you put this medal/trophy/certificate of insanity?
Jordan: On our mantle. It's probably a bit clichéd, but that's where I put all my trophies. They are all special to me for one reason or another. And equally special. Because each one is part of the journey. Simon Whitfield keeps him Olympic & Commonwealth gold and Olympic silver medals in a little felt bag on his bookshelf. They are right there. The Olympic gold has teeth marks from a kid biting it who was at a talk Simon gave. Jill [Savege, Jordan’s wife] keeps her Pan-Am gold in our closet. (Probably shouldn't be sharing the top secret locations of these things!) But I think the lesson is that they are important, but not nearly as much as the process that lead you there.
ST: Many thanks. Have a long sleep!