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PROVIDENCE â€“ A couple of family members, a cousin and even his coach graduated or are still attending Brown University.
Despite all those connections, David Kahn had never been to Providence until this weekend.
But the 27-year-old Long Island triathlete, a recent dental school graduate from the University of Pennsylvania, sure made his first visit to the capital city worthwhile on Sunday with a wire-to-wire victory at the fourth annual Amica Ironman 70.3 triathlon. Kahn finished the race â€“ a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run â€“ with a time of 4 hours, 52 seconds.
As he approached the finish on the State House lawn, a comfortable 35 seconds ahead of runner-up Paul Ambrose of Australia, Kahn stopped just before the line, walking the final few yards to savor the moment. New Jerseyâ€™s Rob Ditota was third at 4:17:45.
Kahnâ€™s team member and occasional training partner Magoli Tisseyre of Canada copped the womenâ€™s title with ease, finishing 13th overall with a time of 4:27.08. Another Canadian, Annie Gervais, was second (41st overall) at 4:38:38, while Heidi Leiggi of Pennsylvania was third (45th overall) with a time of 4:40:39.
Luke Willenbery, 29, of Barrington was the top R.I. finisher, taking 73rd in 4:46:25. Former Cumberland High runner Norman Kim, 50, was 117th with a time of 4:55:04.
â€śIt was a very honest course. It kept everyone honest. I felt like I was climbing forever,â€ť said Kahn, who notched his first-ever win for a triathlon. â€śIt was beautiful; the city and having the run lined with spectators everywhere. It was just a great race, a great race.â€ť
Kahn, a three-time U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier and All-American swimmer during his undergraduate studies at the University of Texas, held about a two-minute cushion over the rest of the field when he exited Olney Pond at Lincoln Woods for the swim portion of the Ironman.
He was timed in 24:12 for the 1.2-mile distance.
â€śI have a pretty extensive swim background,â€ť said Kahn, also a seven-time all-stater in the sport during high school in New York. â€śI have been training really well with the swim. I have done a lot of quality workouts. I have probably doubled my yardage in the last seven weeks and it really showed today. I had a great swim.â€ť
Kahn, a member of Team Sirius, coached by two-time triathlon world champion Siri Lindley, was 2:25 ahead of Ambrose by the time he hopped on his bike.
â€śThe sun was awful. We swam directly into the sun,â€ť Ambrose said. â€śThe sun was in your eyes. David was quick enough and lucky enough to have a lead. When you are second and people are around you, you canâ€™t really see the leader. When I lifted my head up I still couldnâ€™t see where I was going. I lost a lot of time on the swimming. That was the margin at the end. I rode well. I ran well. David had a phenomenal day. That swim let me down.â€ť
Kahn maintained his cushion over Ambrose by the time he finished the challenging 56-mile bike (2:16:23) through Providence and the Blackstone Valley region. He clocked a time of 1:18:03 for the half-marathon run.
â€śEverything went well, except for the last stretch on the bike, that was a little rough,â€ť Kahn said.
After what he felt was a â€śbreakthroughâ€ť second-place finish (3:55:46) at the Ironman 70.3 in Kansas a few weeks ago, Kahn knew he was ready for a top-notch performance at the Providence event.
â€śComing in I had a fourth, a third and a second this year,â€ť he said. â€śI thought it would be a great opportunity to win. There were some tough guys out there with Paul and Viktor [Zyemtsev, a seven-time Ironman champion from Ukraine, who was seventh at 4:21:24.]. Every time I have ever raced (Zyemtsev) he has chased me down. Even though I had a gap I am always conscience where he is on the course.â€ť
Kahn wasnâ€™t the only family member at the triathlon. His 20-year-old brother Mathew, a senior at Brown, was competing in his first half Ironman. He was 256th overall with a time of 5:19:35.
That was part of the reason the elder Kahn decided to enter the Amica Ironman.
â€śWhen I saw the opportunity to race here - I knew my brother was going to be racing - I jumped all over the opportunity,â€ť he said. â€śIt really wasnâ€™t even on my schedule. Last-minute, right at the deadline to enter, I entered. I wanted to come up here and be part of the whole family event.â€ť
The 30-year-old Tisseyre dominated right from the start of the womenâ€™s race, holding a more than two-minute lead over eventual fourth-place finisher (55th overall) Kristen White with a time of 29:08. Tisseyre was timed in 2:32:37 for the bike and finished the half marathon at 1:22:47.
â€śI have to admit, today my legs were tired on the bike ride,â€ť she said. â€śI had a big week, a big block before this race. I think the adrenaline from racing and having a few glimpses of the guys up front, and just knowing ahead that I have a big lead, kept me in the race.â€ť
â€śOn the run I felt a little bit better than I did on the bike,â€ť she continued. â€śI knew there were some girls that were specific runnersâ€¦That kept me honest. I just pushed. One of the poor guys I was running with, I kind of gauged off him. It was a good race. I really always get a lot of help from the crowd. On the run, it almost went on its own. I didnâ€™t have to search too far to get motivation. That was nice.â€ť