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Tarrytown's Jordan Rapp wins Ironman title

NEWS12 WESTCHESTER: Jordan Rapp defeated 2,500 other athletes to win the Ironman triathlon. (Aug. 12, 2012)

After eight hours of running, swimming and biking, how do you celebrate an Ironman win?

If you're Tarrytown's Jordan Rapp, you round up your family and friends, head to Manhattan's Blue Smoke barbecue and devour some comfort food.

"I had ribs for two," Rapp told Newsday late Saturday after winning New York's first-ever Ironman competition. "At the end, there was nothing but bones left, so that was a good celebration."

The 32-year-old had plenty of reasons to celebrate after the eight-plus-hour race, which took him from Rockland County to New Jersey and Manhattan. By the time he crossed the finish line, he'd gone 140 miles -- all under his own power.

However, the contest was marred by the death of a competitor during the swimming portion of the race.

A publicist for the race organizers said the unidentified 43-year-old male competitor "experienced distress" during the 2.4-mile swim in the Hudson River at the start of the competition.

The swimmer was pulled out of the water and taken to a hospital in nearby Englewood Cliffs, N.J., but did not survive. The organizers said the cause of death is unknown. An autopsy is planned.

"On behalf of all of us in the triathlon community, we mourn his death and send our condolences to his family and loved ones," organizers said in a statement.

It was Rapp's fifth Ironman win, coming after victories in Arizona, Texas and Canada. And it also might be his most significant victory, achieved in front of a hometown crowd with his parents, sister, cousin and two nieces cheering him on from the sidelines.

It's also Rapp's second Ironman victory of the year, proving he has returned to form after he was hit by a car while cycling in 2010.

The Hackley School graduate said he doesn't plan to slow down.

"Obviously, I'm not planning on retiring," Rapp said. "Now my focus will turn to the world championships in Hawaii."

Like the other competitors, Rapp paid close attention to the situation in the Hudson River, which absorbed some 3.5 million gallons of raw sewage last week after a sewer line broke. For a day or so, it looked like the event was endangered, but repair crews were able to fix the break quickly so that the water wasn't dangerous by the time the athletes arrived.

Rapp compared it to a 2010 race in Arizona, which was threatened when a dam ruptured and flooded a lake that was part of the triathlon course.

"When you do something that's totally dependent on the environment, something can always happen," he said. "I think they did a remarkable job of repairing it and getting it fixed. I'm certainly appreciative."

Hours after he crossed the finish line, the adrenaline was still flowing. Rapp said he didn't expect to sleep much at all Saturday night after the day's excitement, but he predicted he'd make up for it Sunday.

Performing in front of a hometown crowd was extra motivation. Unlike races in other states or countries, Rapp said, crowds greeted him from the sidelines almost every step of the way, and New York City makes for a memorable course.

"Typical New York fashion," Rapp said. "If you're going to do something, you do it big."

With The Associated Press

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