PROVIDENCE – 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 – a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run – 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 Jersey’s Rob Ditota was third at 4:17:45.
Kahn’s team member and occasional training partner Magoli Tisseyre of Canada copped the women’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.
“It was a very honest course. It kept everyone honest. I felt like I was climbing forever,” said Kahn, who notched his first-ever win for a triathlon. “It was beautiful; the city and having the run lined with spectators everywhere. It was just a great race, a great race.”
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.
“I have a pretty extensive swim background,” said Kahn, also a seven-time all-stater in the sport during high school in New York. “I 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.”
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.
“The sun was awful. We swam directly into the sun,” Ambrose said. “The 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 can’t really see the leader. When I lifted my head up I still couldn’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.”
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.
“Everything went well, except for the last stretch on the bike, that was a little rough,” Kahn said.
After what he felt was a “breakthrough” 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.
“Coming in I had a fourth, a third and a second this year,” he said. “I 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.”
Kahn wasn’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.
“When I saw the opportunity to race here - I knew my brother was going to be racing - I jumped all over the opportunity,” he said. “It really wasn’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.”
The 30-year-old Tisseyre dominated right from the start of the women’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.
“I have to admit, today my legs were tired on the bike ride,” she said. “I 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.”
“On the run I felt a little bit better than I did on the bike,” she continued. “I knew there were some girls that were specific runners…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 didn’t have to search too far to get motivation. That was nice.”