Jordan Rapp used a course record 4:22 bike split and a course record overall winning time of 8:13:35 to take the 2009 Ford Ironman Arizona. Samantha McGlone came back from a slow swim with a sub 5 hour bike split and a superb run to take her first Ironman win, also in record time.
A very cold Town Lake greeted the athletes in Tempe as they got into the water at 6:50am and wetsuits were more than welcome on this day. A group of fast swimmers that included Wolfgang Guembel and Alex Zeebroek were leading the action, but were not able to gain significant advantages over the men who were seen as contenders for the win. TJ Tollakson, Rainard Tissink and Jordan Rapp all exited the water just a couple minutes behind swim leader Guembel and the race for the title was on.
It didn't take Rapp very long to move to the front of the race and together with Tollakson he was soon setting a wicked pace. The pace dictated by Rapp was eventually too much for Tollakson and he had to let the lanky New Yorker go. When it was all said and done Rapp had set a new bike course record in 4:22:31 and was very calm and collected as he got ready for the marathon ahead. Tollakson arrived in T2 about 2 minutes later, but the likes of Paul Ambrose, Richie Cunningham and Torsten Abel had lost almost 10 minutes.
Tollakson made up a few seconds in transition, but that was as close as he would get to Rapp during the run. Ambrose, Abel and Cunningham on the other hand slowly gained time on the leader, but Rapp never looked like he was in trouble. In the end he ran a 2:55:45 marathon and broke the course record set by Andreas Raelert here just a year ago. The win was especially sweet for Rapp as he had finished third here twice and now had a second Ironman title to his name following his win at Ironman Canada a couple months back. Tollakson held on to second, and a fast running Abel closed to within 20 seconds and captured third.
"I think it shows that I can win on a very different course than Canada. Canada was sort of my home course - I woke up in my own bed 800m from the start line. I trained all summer on the course. But here, I was in the same boat as everyone else. So it was nice to feel like I could win when everything wasn't set up ideally in my favor, when I didn't have a 'home court advantage'," said Rapp to slowtwitch.com. "But overall, I think it just reinforces the belief I inherited from my mentors Joel Filliol and Simon Whitfield - it's about the process. It doesn't matter what you do tomorrow and it doesn't matter what you did yesterday. It's about today, and making today count. That's especially true in training, but that same mentality that I carry to racing. Focus on the task at hand, not on the finish line, or the next part of the race, but what it is that is right there in front of you at that moment."
Leanda Cave took charge of the women's race during the swim and managed to exit the water with the main chase pack of men. Some other favorites didn't fare quite as well and were looking at massive time gaps behind the flying Brit to start the bike. Over 5 minutes for Kate Major, almost 9 minutes for Sam McGlone and even more for Linsey Corbin.
Cave added on to her lead on the bike and looked very solid indeed. Relatively unknown Meredith Brook Keeran Kessler was cruising in second position and it appeared that last year's fastest age grouper now tried to duplicate the same feat as a pro. But McGlone wasn't going down easily and she slowly moved up through the field with a fantastic 4:56:58 bike split. By the time the women arrived in T2, Cave still had the lead, but McGlone was now only 4:32 behind her, and Keeran Kesslar just under 5 minutes further back.
McGlone reeled in Cave after about 10k and Cave soon after paid the price for her fast pace early on. Behind her though Linsey Corbin put on quite a running clinic and charged into second place, but that is as close as she would get. McGlone crossed the line in a new course record time of 9:09:19 and now finally has an Ironman title to her name. Corbin crossed the line in second place, about 4:30 behind the Canadian. Had it not been for a 4 minute penalty during the bike for Corbin, we might have seen quite a sprint to the finish in that race. Kate Major rounded out the podium.
Ford Ironman Arizona
Tempe, AZ / November 22, 2009
Top 10 men
1. Jordan Rapp (USA) 8:13:35 *
2. TJ Tollakson (USA) 8:20:22
3. Torsten Abel (GER) 8:20:39
4. Richie Cunningham (AUS) 8:23:18
5. Paul Ambrose (AUS) 8:24:54
6. Eric Bean (USA) 8:29:51
7. Clemens Coenen (GER) 8:32:36
8. Rene Goehler (GER) 8:32:41
9. Santiago Ascenco (BRA) 8:33:26
10. Petr Vabrousek (CZE) 8:37:45
Top 10 women
1. Samantha McGlone (CAN) 9:09:19 *
2. Linsey Corbin (USA) 9:13:46
3. Kate Major (AUS) 9:20:12
4. Gina Kehr (USA) 9:21:12
5. Leanda Cave (GBR) 9:31:04
6. Terra Castro (USA) 9:33:19
7. Meredith Keeran Kessler (USA) 9:37:09
8. Gillian Moody (CAN) 9:37:12
9. Rachel Kiers (CAN) 9:45:26
10. Uli Bromme (USA) 9:47:44
* = course record