Matt Hanson | Professional Triathlete
5x Ironman Champion/ 4x 70.3 Champion

Ironman WI Race Report

So many thoughts are swirling around in my head as I sit down to write this race report. I decided to do Ironman Wisconsin relatively late again, just 4 weeks ago. I have always wanted to do the race but it never really fit into my schedule. After finding out that there would be no Pro race there next year, I decided that I would make it work this year. I was in the middle of a tough block of training, so felt I could definitely be ready by race day. Unfortunately, I suffered a minor injury 3 weeks before the race. I really didn’t run at all in the 3 weeks leading up to the race. In spite of this, everything was feeling pretty good in race week so we decided to go ahead with the plan and race. I’d be lying if I  said I wasn’t a little concerned with how I’d be able to fare during the run portion of the race.

IMG_2639I got to Madison on Thursday evening. My home stay was absolutely amazing! I don’t think her cat liked me at all, but Lynn was awesome. It is a lot of fun when the people you stay with adopt you and support you so much for the weekend. My wife, parents, and sister were also able to make the trip. There was even a group of current and former BVU students who happened to be in Madison and they stopped by see me race as well. I was definitely grateful for  all of the support during the race!

DSC_0312Race Morning

I woke up around 3:00 and had my 2 servings of Infinit Mud for breakfast and went back to sleep for about an hour. I got into transition just after it opened at 5 and got my bike set up and all of my gear bags dropped off. I like to not have to rush in the mornings before a race. I was able to find a quiet spot and take 20 minutes to get my head in the game. I wanted to make sure I got a good warm up in before the swim, so I was one of the first pros in the water around 6:30. I probably doubled the time I spent warming up when compared to previous races, and it seemed to pay off.

Swim – 53:32

This was by far the best swim I have had in an IM. It was my fastest time by only about 10 seconds. However, IIMG_2610 executed the plan that Coach Tim Floyd helped me set up nearly 100%. I got off the line really well and found myself in the lead pack, which is right where I wanted to be. I was able to sight well, and know what was going on around me much better than I ever had before. I was having to work hard to stay with the pack but I thought I was going to be able to make it through the swim with them. With about 1000 meters left, my right calf cramped up for some reason. It took me about 5 seconds to shake it out. I tried for the next minute to surge hard and latch back on to the pack but they were gone. Some days, stuff like that just happens.  I re-focused and swam hard to the end of the swim. A real positive was that I hadn’t been able to get into the lead pack in previous races and I was right were I needed to be for most of the swim. Obviously, the cramp shows me that I was doing all I could to hang with pack.  While I am still not satisfied with where I am at in the water, Tim definitely has me moving in the right direction in the water and I am happy with the progress.

DSC_0345T1 – 4:07

WOW! Longest transition ever. I am happy with how quickly I moved through transition. I do have to say the environment was really cool as you ran up the helix to the parking ramp. There were people screaming for you everywhere. Running barefoot for that far did irritate the injury I was nursing and I was limping quite a bit by the time I got to the bike. Thankfully, I never had any issues with it riding, so I wasn’t too concerned.

Bike – 4:55:17

This was an extremely challenging course for me on a number of levels. The hills were never ending, there is really no flat portions at all. The course definitely tested my bike handling skills, especially on the second loop as I was riding past a number of the AGers. There were also quite a few challenges mentally that tested me as well. This portion of the race was a huge learning experience for me.

DSC_0333For whatever reason, my power meter decided not to work the day before the race. After a quick and panicked call to coach David Tilbury-Davis, we adapted and set to focusing on the race execution. I was obviously stressed about the situation, but he was able to talk me down and get me ready to race with an adjusted plan. The ride started really well for me. In the first 20 miles I had caught a few of the pros who were in the lead swim pack. Unfortunately, in the first 10 miles I hit a rail road track hard and launched ALL of my Custom Blend Infinit bottles. I realized I launched one right away, but I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. However, about 2 minutes later when I reached back to get another bottle to bring forward, I found both cages were empty! In just the one crack in the road I launched 3 bottles. Thankfully, my Infinit Napalm stayed attached. Note to self, put a back up bottle in special needs from now on!

Despite having to rely on course nutrition, something I had not practiced really at all, I was still feeling good. At mile 60, I had moved into 5th place overall. Unfortunately, shortly after on one of the steeper climbs of the course I threw my chain and had to stop and put it back on half way through the hill. It was definitely not a hill I wanted to start on from a dead stop! I got passed on that hill by one pro and Thomas Gerlatch flew by me shortly after so I was back to 7th. I was still feeling like I was riding well until around mile 80. On a turn, I was passing an AGer and they took an unexpected line and I had to overcompensate. I swerved hard to miss them and thought I was going to be fine until my wheel was pinched in a crack in the road. It stopped me on the spot and I did my best impression of Johnny Hoogerland in the Tour De France minus the barbed wire fence (thankfully!). My helmet took the brunt of the impact, the areobars on my bike were bent down quite a bit, but my body was in pretty good shape. As soon as I got up, I said “Wow, that SHOULD have been a lot worse!” It is only by the grace of God that I wasn’t seriously hurt! The spectators that saw the crash were shocked that I got up and was able to keep riding. I wasn’t really able to ride in the aero position for the last 30 miles being my bars were bent down so far, but I was able to finish the ride and that’s what matters. I must have broke my HRM on the fall as well because I didn’t get another reading for the rest of the ride. I still feel fortunate that I was able to finish the race!

T2- 1:38

This transition went really well again. I was limping pretty good as I ran barefoot through transition into the changing area. I did take about 5 seconds after I got my shoes on to sit and re-focus. I was a little shaken up, but mostly I was happy that I was able to keep pushing through the race.

IMG_2630Run – 2:55:42

I decided to race in my Zoot trainers rather than the Zoot Kiawe racing shoes that I usually race in to protect myself just a little more. I was able to settle right into my pace and had moved into 5th place on the first loop. Like the bike course, the run course was full of rolling hills and deceptively tough. I tried to bridge the gap on the leaders but they had opened up too much of a lead on me on the swim and bike. At the 16 mile mark, I got a report that I was still 11 minutes down from 4th but I had opened up a 9 minute gap on 6th. As much as I really hated doing it, I backed off the gas pedal a little. I wasn’t going to bridge an 11 minute gap in 10 miles, especially with how well the top four were running. I certainly didn’t ‘shut it down’ completely, but I backed off the pace a little to lessen the impact and hopefully help speed up the recovery leading into my next race.

DSC_0368Overall – 8:50:16  – 5th Place

This race was another race that was full of “firsts” and learning experiences. I’m glad that I did the race and was happy to come away with 5th overall. Congrats to fellow Iowan Danny Bretscher on a great race and course record! Thank you to all of the spectators and volunteers out on the course. Of course, thank you to Maverick Multisport and all of our supporters for your hard work in making sure we are fully equipped for race day.


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