Former Army captain wins Wis. Ironman on 9-11
Jessica Jacobs, a 34-year-old Green Bay, Wisconsin native and former captain in the U.S. Army, won the Ford Wisconsin Ironman on September 11. Her husband, Michael "Jake" Jacobs, was able to watch her finish and hear her victory speech via satellite from Iraq where he is stationed, serving as a captain and company commander.
Upon learning that the event would take place on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S., Jacobs decided she would go for the win and "represent the military ... do it for the soldiers ... do it for all those who didn't make it that day," according to The Wisconsin State Journal.
The event was Jacobs' 18th Ironman and her second victory. She completed the 2.4-mile swim 12 minutes behind the women's leader, Meredith Kessler of San Francisco, and wasn't able to catch her until 20 miles into the marathon run. Jacobs went on to win in 9 hours 41 minutes - 9 minutes 42 seconds ahead of Kessler, who settled for second.
After giving a brief and emotional speech at the finish line, Jacobs received a call from Iraq. "My husband just told me it was extremely hard not to be here, but that he loves me and he's very proud of me," she told the newspaper.
Noting the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, the Ford Ironman Wisconsin organizers honored 150 first responders as participants in the race.
One 9/11 survivor - Steven Gatto, of Lake Forest, Illinois, who fled from the World Trade Center in Manhattan - joined the 2,500 Ironman competitors in Madison and finished the event in 11:13:01.
A story about Gatto in The Chicago Sun-Times related that Gatto encountered firefighters moving up the stairs, around the 12th floor. "I'm sure the firemen I passed didn't live," he was quoted saying.
Gatto said he was inspired to tackle the Ironman to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. He hoped to raise $5,000 for soldiers wounded in combat in "the battle that started 10 years ago on 9/11 and is still being fought now," he said.
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