You are here


Sunday, July 27, 2014

American pro Gwen Jorgensen is still improving as a complete triathlete, but her running prowess is giving her the leading edge on the international World Cup Circuit. Mike Plant photo 

If prehistory refers to the time before written records, what do you call something you observe in the present time that you believe with reasonable certainty will be of historical value in the future?

I suppose "history in the making" will have to suffice. I knew I'd witnessed an historic event at the Ironman in 1988 when Paula Newby Fraser finished 11TH overall, 12 seconds behind the great Pauli Kiru. I had that same feeling last October in Kona when Mirinada Carfrae ran by me (I was watching, not competing) on her way to a 2:50:38 marathon, third fastest run overall, and an 8:52:14 total time, both course records.

At the Olympic-distance ITU World Triathlon in Chicago on June 28 I was witness again to a memorable performance by a woman. Gwen Jorgensen of the U.S. became the first woman in history to win six ITU titles. It was her third win in a row in 2014 (she extended the streak to four with a win in Hamburg Germany on July 12).

But it wasn't the victory itself that I found historic. It was the combination of how Jorgensen won the race, and Jorgensen herself, the athlete, that made the goose bumps run up and down my arms. Coming off the bike 67 seconds in arrears, she ran down the best field in the world, then added 17 seconds to that to win going away. Tall and lean, Jorgensen is a beautiful runner, with the form and speed of the track-trained distance runner she is. Perhaps most astounding, this 2012 Olympian and now leading light of the ITU, is still polishing off the rough edges, advancing as a swimmer, cyclist, and with room for improvement in transition. It's crazy to think that an athlete in Jorgensen's position is still on the way up, but that seems to be the case. If I had to bet, I'd say we'll be talking about her in 20 years the way we talk now about Newby-Fraser, Mark Allen, Chrissie Wellington, et. al.

To know more about Gwen Jorgensen, this is a good place to start:

For race details from USAT, click HERE.