Matt Hanson | Professional Triathlete
4x Ironman Champion/ 3x 70.3 Champion

Ironman Punta del Este 70.3 Race Report

pde-swimUruguay was definitely a long way to travel for a 70.3, but it was definitely worth the trip. The course was beautiful, the roads were pretty good overall, and the atmosphere was great. Plus, I am able to hit Cartagena 70.3 on the way home, so it is a 2 for 1 travel! I arrived in Uruguay on Thursday, a day later than expected due to a delayed flight out of O’Hare (shocker) causing me to have to stay overnight in the Panama airport. It was just a short drive from Montevideo to Punta del Este, and a good portion of it was down the coast. Very beautiful country!

Race Morning 
As per routine, I woke up 3 hours before the race and made my 2 servings for First Endurance Ultragen and went back to bed for about 45 minutes or so. I got my bike and gear all ready at the hotel and rode the mile down to transition. I was still the first Pro there and beat most of the AGers there as well. I like to be early into transition and to be able to take my time. I got my area set up then went over to sit on the beach and get my head ready to go. The water was very cold (61 degrees F!) so it was important to get in a good warm up. I swam for about 15 minutes or so, then got to the start line.

Swim – 26:04 
I am pretty happy with how everything went minus the start. I have been working hard on being more aware of what is going on at the beginning of the swims rather than just putting my head down and sprinting. It was a beach start so the beginning was definitely a bit frantic. I didn’t go out as hard as I usually would have and settled into a comfortable pace right after the first turn. Somehow, I missed one guy off the front of the group I was in. I thought I was in the lead group…and thought I was first out of the water until I got to the first turn around on the bike and saw one guy off the front about 30 seconds in front of me at that point. There is some good video footage from the race start, and I’ve learned a lot about what I did wrong by watching it a few times. I am definitely happy with how I executed the swim, but if I would have had a better start, I think I had a shot at swimming with the guy off the front. He came out 50 seconds faster than me, and I definitely wasn’t extending myself by any means. I spent most of the swim in 2nd/3rd position in the group and moved to the front at the last turn. A good swim, but a better learning experience. Still, second out of the water is the best I’ve ever come out, so I’ll take it!

pde-bikepde-bike-2T1 – (no idea of the time…definitely not the 12+ min reported on tracking!) 
I didn’t have the best of T1s here. I came out of the water in front of the group, and left transition in 4th. I got my Huub wetsuit off easily enough, but my rear bottle got hung up on the bar as I pulled out my bike. I was frantically trying to get through T1 rather than just staying calm. Live and learn. In the end, didn’t cost me anything.

Bike – 2:04:37 
I felt like I had an OK bike. I rode behind Santiago and Mario for the first 20 minutes or so, then overtook Mario the first time up the only real hill of the course. I was hanging with Santiago through the first turn around and until we bridged to the guy off the front in the swim. Santiago must have gotten a surge of adrenaline…or something…when he moved into the lead because as soon he took the lead he took off. He put 3 minutes into me over the 10k back to the start of the second lap. I struggled quite a bit on the second lap with really tight hip flexors for some reason and was forced to take a few breaks from aero. Still, I stayed focused on trying to limit the gap and give myself a chance to run for the win. I came off the bike about 4:00 down from the lead.

T2 – :59 

T2 went well, I threw on my Cloud Racers, grabbed everything else and started putting on my watch, belt and visor as I was running out of transition.

pde-runRun – 1:13:15 
I have mixed feelings about my run. It is hard to be upset with a 1:13, however after dropping a 1:11 at both Miami 70.3 and Austin 70.3 less than a month ago, I felt like I could do it again. The gap between Santiago and myself was 4:00 off the bike. I cut 90 seconds off of this in the first 5k when I saw him at the first turn around. By this point I had already put a fairly decent gap on 3rd. Being 2 1/2 min down at this point, I knew I had my work cut out for me but thought I had a chance. At the start of the second lap, I had only cut 30 more seconds out and by the last turn around with about 6k to go, I still had about a 1:45 gap. My pace had slipped to about 5:35/mi at this point and I wasn’t running with my full stride…the tight hip flexors from the bike had returned and were limiting my hip extension so was having to work a lot harder for the pace than I typically would have. At that point, it was pretty evident that I wasn’t going to bridge the gap barring a melt down from Santiago and he was looking strong. I ran hard in, but admit that I stepped a little off the gas as second place was pretty much secured. In hind sight, I am not terribly pleased with how I executed on the run. I took a good chunk of time out in the first 5k and I think I was a little too patient on the second 5k. The weather was beautiful and it wasn’t likely that Santiago was going to fade at the end. As I continue to learn more of how to race these 70.3s…I’m finding that you can’t be near as patient as you can be in fulls. If I would have surged through the 10k mark and closed the gap a little more, perhaps I could have found the ability to dig deeper and at least make a competitive finish.

pde-finishOverall – 3:46:31 
Overall, I’m very happy to have executed another solid race. I finished second to a very solid athlete who put together a great race. As you read above, there are plenty of things I could do better. But as a whole, I am happy with the race. Podiums in this sport are hard to come by, so I’ll take them when I can get them! I decided to do the series of 4 late season 70.3s primarily to learn a lot and get more race experience under my belt. In three races, I’ve found 2 podiums which I can’t complain about. However, more importantly, I have learned a ton that will make me better in 2017! Before the first 70.3 of the fall, I told Coach Julie that any positive result I get is great…but I am tackling these races to be better next year. I am definitely starting to figure out how to race these 70.3s, so am excited for one more learning opportunity in Cartagena and even more excited to see what 2017 will bring.

Also, huge thank you to for the awesome pics. Also, if you are interested in a video recap of the day, check out this video by Argentina Xtreme: 

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