Ironman Canada was supposed to be hot—both temperature and race wise—and it did not disappoint.
Written by: Erin Beresini
With a high of 93 degrees Fahrenheit in Penticton, British Columbia, the weather held up its end of the bargain. As for the pros, it was anyone’s guess who would blaze his or her way to the finish, leaving the competition up in smoke and taking the lion’s share of the $75,000 prize purse.
Last year’s winner, Meredith Kessler, was back to defend her title. Mary Beth Ellis won Ironman Austria and Ironman Regensburg this summer and was hoping for a summer trifecta. It seemed possible—her Austria time of 8:43:34 was the second fastest female Ironman time ever. On the men’s side, Jordan Rapp won in 2009 and made a heroic comeback, racing at IMAZ 2010 after being sidelined most of last year following a hit-and-run cycling accident. Last year’s winner and eight-time Ironman champ, Ukrainian Viktor Zyemtsev was back to defend his title, but couldn’t hold it together in the run. Rapp notched his second Ironman Canada victory today while Mary Beth Ellis ran away with the women’s win.
The one-loop swim in Lake Okanagan was sunny and calm with no reported sightings of lake monster, Ogopogo. Four time Ironman champ Bryan Rhodes led the men out of the water in 50:11. Around 11 miles into the one-loop bike, race favorites Rapp and Zyemtzev were in sixth and seventh place respectively. Though not particularly grueling, the bike does have rolling hills and a climb of about 7 miles—and some gorgeous scenery of lakes and valleys, if you have time to look. Ironman Lanzarote champion Bert Jammaer led the bike with Bryan Rhodes close behind while Rapp and Zyemtzev snaked their way up the rankings. By the out-and-back section of the bike, Rapp took the lead, leaving Jammaer and Zyemtsev behind. Rapp, aka Rappstar, posted a bike split of 4:38:06, running into T2 in first place. A chase pack of Rhodes, Abel Torsten and Zyemtsev followed about 3 minutes behind, but by the beginning of the out-and-back run, the men’s race began to play out as predicted: Rapp vs. Zyemtzev. Rapp had a nice lead on his competitor that he wouldn’t give up. Rapp ran into the finish chute first, 13 minutes ahead of second place Torsten Abel of Germany. Jammaer came in third, while Zyemtzev failed to finish in the top 15.
Meredith Kessler made her bid for the win right from the start, leading the women out of the water in 53:31 with Mary Beth Ellis only a few seconds back. The two women raced in front, with Ellis taking over the lead halfway through the bike. Coming out of the out-and-back section of the bike loop, Ellis had surprisingly put a five-minute gap on Kessler. Would this be as much of a race as predicted? Or would Ellis run away with the whole thing starting right here? Ellis hit T2 first, and by about four miles into the run she had a lead of 13 minutes over Kessler, which she continued to extend throughout the run. Ellis literally ran away with the win, crossing the line in 9:03:13, more than a half an hour ahead of second place finisher Kim Loeffler. Kessler came in third.
Penticton, BC, Canada – Aug. 28, 2011
2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Jordan Rapp 8:28:09
2. Torsten Abel 8:41:09
3. Bert Jammaer 8:42:34
4. Christopher Bagg 8:47:25
5. Jasper Blake 8:50:30
1. Mary Beth Ellis 9:03:13
2. Kim Loeffler 9:34:54
3. Meredith Kessler 9:37:22