The Rappstar had something to prove to himself and he did on Sunday.
Jordan Rapp, 2009 Subaru Ironman Canada champ, took back his title from 2010 winner Viktor Zyemstev as he crossed the finish line in eight hours, 28 minutes, nine seconds.
Runner-up Torsten Abel of Germany didn’t come through until 13 minutes later (8:41:09). Belgian’s Bert Jammaer took bronze in 8:42:34.
As Rapp walked towards the finish line comfortably, he high-fived the crowd cheering him on. When he finally crossed the line, Rapp grabbed the ribbon with authority and raised it above his head then bent forward momentarily.
His comeback was complete.
Rapp was forced out of last year’s event after being struck by a vehicle while training in California. He suffered broken bones, including his clavicle and scapula, as well as lacerations to his head and neck.
“It’s good to sort of feel like, after everything that happened, I can still win big races and win them convincingly,” he responded when asked what went through his mind as he reached the end. “I think that was, more than anything, what I really wanted to prove. I think I did.”
Rapp wasn’t among the top 10 out of the water after the 3.86-kilometre swim, but he certainly got back into contention on the bike. By the 18-km mark of the 180-km leg, he was sixth. Near the bottom of Richter’s Pass, he took over second place and then heading into the out-and-back, Rapp took the lead for good.
“I have been running well,” said Rapp, who resides in Penticton half the year with wife Jill Savege and their son. “I feel confident that I can come in on this force and I can put people in an uncomfortable position. I think that’s what I did.”
Asked about Zyemstev, who was seen walking at the 24-kilometre mark and didn’t finish, Rapp said he knew it would be difficult for anyone to close the gap at his pace.
“Especially it being so hot (temperatures his 30 degrees Celsius) and knowing we were going to have a head wind coming back in, I knew it was going to be a hard task for someone to really close out a whole lot of time,” said Rapp, who completed the swim in 53:41, the bike in 4:38:06 and the marathon (42.2-km) in 2:53:17. “I thought I had a good lead coming through the turnaround.”
Meanwhile, Mary Ellis of Superior, Colo., set a new women’s record winning in 9:03:13 for ninth overall. She broke Erin Baker’s mark of 9:05:28 set in 1990 en route to winning her third consecutive Ironman event this year.
Ellis busted out of the water in 53:36, completed the bike in 4:54:21 and the run, which was the hardest part for her, in 3:12:09.
“The run I suffered today,” said Ellis. “Man it was hot out there, I was just trying to get to the finish line.”
Assisting her in that feat was the crowd. Ellis agreed that they are energizing and said the support is especially helpful the last three miles.
“Everybody cheering. The athletes heading out too were really supportive, which is always nice,” she said.
Ellis, who came out of the water five seconds after defending champ Meredith Kessler (53:31), found the bike course windy. Her strategy was to bike as hard as she could.
“We were biking really fast out because of the tail wind,” she said. “I think we hit 60-km in an hour and a half. I was like oh my gosh. We turned into the head wind and I just tried to work the hills a bit.”
In second place was Kim Loeffler of Colchester, Vt., coming in at 9:34:54 and Kessler taking third at 9:37:22.
Kelowna’s Trevor Wurtele, formerly of Vernon, ranked ninth overall in 9:05:19.
In age-group action, Vernon’s Aaron Hoffman was the top local, finishing in 10:27:50 to take 30th in the men’s 35-39 division. Ginny Sellars (women’s 35-39) was top female in 11:06:03.
Other age-group finishers included Simon Craig (men’s 40-44) in 10:34:09; John Keeley (men’s 50-54) in 11:20:02; Coldstream’s Eric Jewell (men’s 30-34) in 11:25:50; Blair MacKeighan (men’s 45-49) in 11:38:19; Kara Hoffman (women’s 35-39) in 12:19:02; Coldstream’s Michelle Ostafew (women’s 30-34) in 12:57:29; Lisa Crockett (women’s 40-44) in 13:16:18; Ryan Ingham (men’s 35-39) in 13:20:28; Denise McMahon (women’s 55-59) in 14:01:28; Allyson Reich (women’s 35-39) in 14:31:35; Coldstream’s Cathy Mory (women’s 55-59) in 15:02:59; and Coldstream’s Leslie Dantzer (women’s 45-49) in 15:07:16; Mike Riley (men’s 50-54) in 15:07:16, Coldstream’s Deryk Lyddiatt (men’s 40-44) in 15:36:48; Carol Davidson (women’s 40-44) in 15:46:45 and Rory White (men’s 30-34) in 16:12:40.