Great Britain’s Helen Jenkins won the London edition of the ITU’s Dextro Energy World Championship Series today, with Americans Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah Groff taking two automatic Olympic qualifying spots for the USA by placing second and seventh, respectively.
The race started off today with a group that included Americans Laura Bennett, Sarah Haskins and Sarah Groff leading the women out of the water, and they helped form a lead bike group of about 30 women, who were about a minute ahead of the chase pack.
The lead pack rode at a fairly leisurely pace, and the chase pack, which included series leader Barbara Riveros Diaz of Chile, Jorgensen, and Hamburg silver medalist Emma Jackson, started to pick up time with every lap. With one lap to go on the 7-lap bike course, they were about 25 seconds down on the leaders, and they quickly made up that time during the last lap.
With the chase pack catching the lead pack, the landscape of the race changed entirely. Now Jorgensen, Riveros and Jackson, who are fantastic runners, would be able to start the run with the leaders.
During the run, the race slowly began to break apart, with Australia’s Emma Snowsill pushing the pace early on and then Jenkins, who was sick leading up to the race and who later said she felt terrible during her swim, setting a blistering pace that no one could match. She led for virtually the entire run and crossed the line completely spent.
“I hit the run and thought I would see what I could do. I thought I would keep pushing right to the end. It hurt so much. I only relaxed when I got on the carpet,” Jenkins told the ITU after the race.
In terms of the race within the race, when the chase pack caught the lead pack on the bike, it meant that all five American women would begin the run together. In other words, the two qualifying spots up for grabs would be given to the two women who could run the fastest 10Ks.
It quickly became clear that the two fastest American runners on the day would be Groff and Jorgensen. What wasn’t clear was whether they would both finish in the top 9, a necessary requirement for automatically qualifying for the Olympics.
For a while, it appeared that Groff and Jorgensen might go 2-3, but Groff faded during the final stretch of the run, later commenting that her somewhat lackluster transition meant she might have spent a little too much energy at the beginning of the 10K.
Prior to the race, most pundits believed that the American Olympic team would be Groff, Laura Bennett and Sarah Haskins. Now that Jorgensen, who didn’t start doing triathlons until last year, has qualified, one of two great Olympians and triathletes—Haskins and Bennett—won’t qualify for London in 2012.
Despite the competition for American spots, the American women all seemed supportive during and after the race. Jorgensen mentioned that as she passed Bennett, Bennett encouraged her to “go get them.” Jorgensen finished with the fastest run split on the day, 33:43.
1. Helen Jenkins, GBR, 2:00:34
2. Gwen Jorgensen, USA, 2:00:41
3. Aanja Dittmer, GER, 2:00:49
4. Emma Jackson, AUS, 2:00:51
5. Emma Snowsill, AUS, 2:00:52
6. Andrea Hewitt, NZL, 2:00:54
7. Sarah Groff, USA, 2:00:58
8. Nicola Spirig, SUI, 2:01:04
9. Ashleigh Gentle, AUS, 2:01:07
10. Emmie Charayron, FRA, 2:01:10
24. Laura Bennett, USA, 2:02:19
34. Sarah Haskins, USA, 2:02:45
51. Jillian Petersen, USA, 2:05:17
Written by Jennifer Purdie and Courtney Baird.