Gwen Jorgensen still winning during triathlon offseason

Gwen Jorgensen
0 Comments

Gwen Jorgensen hasn’t slowed too much since completing the most dominant season in World Triathlon Series history.

Jorgensen, crowned World champion on Aug. 30, married Oct. 4, one day after sharing a bike ride with her fiance, a former professional cyclist. It started snowing 15km into the ride, which lasted much longer than the wedding at Rivers Eatery in Cable, Wis., population 825. They didn’t ask for a cake, but received one in three tiers for the reception anyway, and danced to Irish rockers Molly and the Danger Band.

Jorgensen then returned to her Minnesota home and won her division in local cyclocross and gravel bike races later that month.

She completed a 50km gravel race — The Filthy 50 — in 2 hours, 48 minutes, 11 seconds, on Oct. 12. Search the results, and you’ll find her under a different name — Gwen Lemieux — and 23 spots below her husband, Pat Lemieux, who crossed in 2:33:47.

Jorgensen spent much of last week in New York, in search of another victory. She found it at the Dash to the Finish Line 5K in Manhattan on Saturday, ending at the same Central Park line as the New York City Marathon would a day later.

Jorgensen covered 3.1 miles in 16:03, beating a field that included a 2008 British Olympic 1500m runner.

She’s next expected to race a triathlon in the Bahamas on Sunday. She’ll return to her winter training base, in Australia, for camp beginning Jan. 4.

Jorgensen’s goal last season was simply to improve her swim and bike. She is a former All-America cross-country and track runner at the University of Wisconsin.

She ended up winning five straight World Triathlon Series events this year, capped by the Grand Final in Edmonton on Aug. 30. No man or woman had ever before won four straight events in the series’ history, which dates to 2009.

Next season, Jorgensen will focus on Rio Olympic qualification. She made her first Olympic team in 2012, two years after leaving an Ernst & Young accounting job to take up triathlon. She finished 38th in London, her hopes punctured by a flat tire before she could hit her specialty, the 10km run.

Jorgensen knows the pressure and media attention will increase as the Olympics near. No U.S. man or woman has won an Olympic triathlon gold medal since the sport debuted at Sydney 2000.

She sought advice on dealing with that from one of the greatest triathletes of all time, Australian Emma Snowsill. Snowsill is the only woman to win three World Championships, plus she took Olympic gold in 2008.

They chatted over drinks following Jorgensen’s World Series victory in Hamburg on July 12, days after Snowsill announced her retirement.

Also in Hamburg, Jorgensen met another budding triathlete, 2004 U.S. Olympic 1500m runner Alan Webb. Webb and Jorgensen were both once coached in running by Jerry Schumacher.

“It’s really interesting to hear his perspective,” Jorgensen said of Webb, who at 31 also harbors hopes of making the 2016 Olympics. “He’s trying to pick my brain on how to get into the sport. It’s exciting to see that enthusiasm.”

Jorgensen, 28, said a question she is often asked is if she would ever do an Ironman triathlon — swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles. The Olympic triathlon is a .93-mile swim, 25-mile bike and 6.2-mile run.

“I never really think about Ironman,” Jorgensen said. “It’s not something that I envision myself doing. I’m not going to say I’m never going to do it, because you never say never, but I also see myself possibly getting into marathon running.”

Shawn Johnson, Jamie Anderson on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’