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The Rappstar: Jordan Rapp’s Canadian Connection

Jordan Rapp, winner of the 2009 Subaru Ironman Canada, tells his story in his own words.

As this issue goes to print, Jordan Rapp is in critical condition in hospital in San Francisco, the victim of a hit and run accident while he was out training on his bike. According to his wife, Jill Savege, he’s on his way towards a full recovery from his injuries.

While preparing for his second Ironman win in Arizona last year, Rapp managed to raise $22,500 for World Bicycle Relief through an auction supported by his sponsors. An anonymous doner doubled that amount after the auction. Rapp is a popular and regular poster on slowtwitch.com.

My connection with Canada began when I hired Joel Filliol, who was then coaching Simon Whitfield, to be my coach. I guess it’s even stronger after Jill (Savege, who represented Canada at the 2004 Olympic Games and is a Pan American gold medalist) and I got married last November. While I was getting my degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton, I was a national team rower. Then, while I was gearing up for a run at the Olympics in 2003, an overuse injury forced me to stop rowing. I did a few triathlons and started to do pretty well.

I still remember the first time I got into a pool in Victoria to be coached by Joel. I was swimming with Simon Whitfield, the 2000 Olympic gold medalist, Hamish Carter, the 2004 Olympic gold medalist and three-time Ironman world champion Peter Reid.

A few years later it was Simon who convinced me to do my first Ironman. I was racing in the 101 series and the third race was cancelled. Simon told me to get on a plane and fly to Penticton. I got there on Friday, somehow got into the race, and then finished fifth. That was in 2007.

The next April I came so close to winning my first Ironman race in Arizona. There were four of us battling over the final mile. In the end I finished third. I don’t think I was ready to win an Ironman at that point. I had a lot of things I was still trying to figure out. Last year, at Subaru Ironman Canada, I felt like I was finally ready for a win. I’d spent so much time in Penticton with Jill (Savege is from Penticton) and had done so much training on the course that I knew I was ready.

I felt the same way heading into the race in Arizona last November. It didn’t seem out of place to be wearing race number one. It feels like I’ve finally justified my decision to become a pro triathlete.

After that race Greg Welch told me that I better plan on heading to Kona next year. I’m still not sure about that. I still look up to guys like Chris Lieto, Chris McCormack, Craig Alexander and Rasmus Henning … to me I’m me and they’re them. If I’m every going to contend in Hawaii I need to change that because, as long as I think that way, it’s going to stay that way.

I’ve had success because I’m patient, but at the same time I’ve had some success because I’ve taken some risks and believed in myself. I want to make sure that when I go and do it I’ll be ready to make all the people who support me proud.

Jordan Rapp won the 2009 Subaru Ironman Canada and Ford Ironman Arizona.