Kirsty Jahn’s Big Year

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - DEPARTMENT -

THE CONCIERGE AT the Smetana Ho­tel in Prague couldn’t have been hap­pier.

“You’re look­ing for the world-fa­mous triath­lete, Kirsty Jahn?” he asked. “You are here to do an in­ter­view with her?”

It’s ob­vi­ously not that of­ten that the Smetana staff sees their guests on live tele­vi­sion, which is ex­actly what they saw lots of on race day as Jahn con­tended for the win at the Czech Re­pub­lic’s big­gest triathlon, Chal­lenge Prague. In the end the Cana­dian came up just 31-sec­onds short af­ter a two-port-o-pot­tystop run, but there was lots of TV time for her hosts to see her as even the awards cer­e­monies were shown live to the na­tion.

While she didn’t get the win in Prague, Jahn is cer­tainly in the midst of the sea­son of her life, hav­ing taken two Iron­man ti­tles al­ready – Brazil in May and Boul­der in June. She could ac­tu­ally ar­rive on the Big Is­land for the Iron­man World Cham­pi­onship with three Iron­man ti­tles to her credit if she takes the day in Wis­con­sin in Septem­ber.

Orig­i­nally from North Van­cou­ver and with her pre-mar­ried last name of Smith, Jahn was heav­ily re­cruited by Amer­i­can col­leges af­ter a stel­lar high school run­ning ca­reer. She ended up at Vil­lanova, run­ning both track and cross coun­try. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Vil­lanova she was re­cruited to be part of the Brookes Marathon Project in 2005 and moved to Toronto to work with coach Hugh Cameron. De­spite mak­ing the Cana­dian team that com­peted at the world cross coun­try cham­pi­onships in 2006, Jahn spent much of her short time in Toronto in­jured and

even­tu­ally moved back west. Re­al­iz­ing that since she spent so much time on a bike and in the pool when she was in­jured, she con­tacted the Triathlon Canada train­ing cen­tre in Vic­to­ria on a whim and asked if it made sense for her to pur­sue triathlon. Pa­trick Kelly, then Triathlon Canada’s per­for­mance direc­tor, in­vited her to Vic­to­ria for a week­end to eval­u­ate her swim­ming and promptly in­vited her to join the train­ing squad in Vic­to­ria – sud­denly she found her­self train­ing in the same group as two-time Olympic medal­ist Si­mon Whit­field.

Not ex­actly the most pa­tient of ath­letes, Jahn balked when she learned that there was lit­tle chance she’d make the 2008 Olympic team and grad­u­ally eased out of the sport, tak­ing a full-time job with Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers in Van­cou­ver in 2008. A few years later, she re­turned to school to do a master’s in math­e­mat­i­cal fi­nance at Columbia Univer­sity in New York. It was there that she met hus­band, Rob Jahn, and also got back into triathlon af­ter spend­ing some time run­ning with the New York Ath­letic Club. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Columbia in 2012, she worked for a few years on Wall Street do­ing quan­ti­ta­tive fi­nance. In 2014, she de­cided she wanted to get back into triathlon. She en­listed Jesse Kro­pel­nicki as a coach and turned pro af­ter her first race back.

In 2016 Jahn moved to Boul­der – Rob moved him­self into a home of­fice in the train­ing mecca and trav­els back to New York when needed – to en­joy a bet­ter train­ing en­vi­ron­ment than that af­forded by New York City.

Jahn’s break­through year can most likely be at­trib­uted to her new coach, Brett Sut­ton. Ini­tially hes­i­tant to work with the con­tro­ver­sial coach who was con­victed of five sex­ual of­fences with a teenage girl he was coach­ing in 1999, Jahn fi­nally took the plunge and signed up with the Aus­tralian who worked with Chrissie Welling­ton and now coaches Iron­man world champ Daniela Ryf, not to men­tion count­less other Iron­man, WTS and Olympic cham­pi­ons.

“Brett has made me slow down my runs so I can han­dle the mileage,” Jahn says. “I seem to be able to han­dle a lot more train­ing. He’s also got me swim­ming a lot more – I’m do­ing 30 km a week, but less bike mileage. We do a lot of low cadence work and he’s got my race cadence down to 80.”

The changes seem to be work­ing. While Jahn laughed when she heard about my con­ver­sa­tion with the ho­tel concierge – “I’m not a world-fa­mous triath­lete; Javier Gomez [the men’s win­ner] is a world-fa­mous triath­lete” – her two Iron­man ti­tles this year and sud­den as­cent through the Kona Points Rank­ing is cer­tainly mak­ing hers a rec­og­nized name in the world of triathlon. Even though it will be only her first ap­pear­ance in Kona, Jahn could very well be the top Cana­dian fin­isher on the Big Is­land.—KM

Kirsty Jahn takes the win at Iron­man Boul­der

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