Pucon 70.3

I’m back and starting to recover from the race and travel to Pucon. On the way back home, we were delayed several times and it ended up taking over 28 hours to get back to Windsor. It actually was quicker for us to get to Brisbane Australia, then Pucon Chile! It was all worth it though. The race was amazing, the people were amazing and the place was beautiful. If you’ve never been to this race or part of the world before, I highly recommend you go! You will not regret it!

First things first, I was blown away by how much community support the race received, as well as how much there was to do. The three days leading into the race was filled with all sorts of events for people of all ages and ability levels. It was amazing to see hundreds of young kids flying around on their road bikes on a criterium style bike course, during the kid’s triathlon. For every event, the course was completely closed to traffic, and the streets were lined with cheering people.

Secondly, I was blown away by how much media interest there was in the event. If you were in North America, you probably didn’t even know the race occurred. On the other hand, it was shown live in just about every country in South America! I’m talking real deal live coverage; the best live coverage I have ever seen for a triathlon. You can get a sense of what the coverage looked like here:

http://www.tvn.cl/especiales/ironman/lionel-sanders-se-queda-con-el-primer-lugar-2259481

I am used to press conferences at North American races where there might be two or three media outlets and at best 50 people. At the press conference for this race, there were probably 50 media outlets, and standing room only in a large banquet hall. Long story short, triathlon is alive and well in South America!

 

I was most excited for the swim. I have been swimming with a club for the first time in my life and had attended 10 practices leading into this race. Without a doubt I have improved in the pool, in this short amount of time, so I was interested to see what would happen on race day. In all honesty, I am actually a bit disappointed in my swim. Old habits crept back in the first 400-600m and I swam quite panicked and rushed. I actually got dropped from the group who I eventually came out of the water with. The swim was basically a 950m loop that you then got out of the water and ran 80m on the beach to then do another 950m loop. On the run on the beach I could see that I was about 20m down on a group of swimmers that I had never come out of the water with before. By the turnaround on the final loop I had gained composure over myself, started swimming a more efficient stroke, and bridged the gap on the group in front of me.

I made a tactical error though and inserted myself in the middle of the group. I had two swimmers in front and one swimmer on my left and right with nowhere to go. The pace was very easy, but there was nothing I could do. By no means do I think I could have dropped this group, but with a better tactical decision upon joining the group I think I could have pushed the pace the final 475m. These are experiences I have never had in my career, which I think is a good sign that the swim is improving. My deficit to the front of the race was about 3 minutes, and as I said above, I have never come out before with athletes like Jesse Thomas and Mario De Elias. They are usually a minute or two ahead of me.

Out onto the bike I was dismayed to find that I was not getting any power readings. When I got to the race in the morning I turned on my bike computer and was amazed that it immediately picked up my power meter, without waking it up. I also thought it was weird that when I calibrated the meter, it showed a calibration number that was in a much different range than I was used to. I didn’t think much of it at the time though. I knew then that I had connected to someone else’s power meter. Unfortunately, the computer won’t connect to my power meter while riding, so I knew that I would be riding this bike based on feel. I have learned this lesson before (to check that my computer is connected to MY power meter) but I don’t have it written down on my pre-race checklist, so forgot. In the future, I will be sure to add this to the checklist!

Everything was going smoothly on the bike. As I neared the turnaround I could see that I was still about 2 minutes down to the front of the race. I was impressed with how hard Felipe Van De Wyngard and Felipe Baraza were riding. I like when guys lay it out there on the line and race to the best of their ability, and I could tell that they were doing just that. When I made the turn I suddenly started to hear a loud thud coming from somewhere on my bike. When I accelerated it accelerated, and when I decelerated it decelerated. I thought perhaps I had a flat tire, but both front and back still had good pressure. I checked to see if my bottle cages were loose and they were all good. I couldn’t figure out what it was, so I decided to block it out. I never caught the front of the race on the bike, but I did catch a glimpse of Felipe Ven De Wyngard in T2. I was about 15 seconds down.

After the race Oscar Galindez (six time Pucon 70.3 champion) tweeted at me that my back tire exploded about 5 minutes after returning my bike to transition. My theory now is that the latex tube in the back tire bubbled, causing the tire to bubble and rub somewhere on my bike. Luck was on my side on this day that it didn’t explode sooner!

 

By about the 2 kilometer point I entered the lead of the race. It is without a doubt the hardest run course I have ever done. Steep ascents and descents, on a three loop course. I decided to not use a watch for this one and just run off of feel. It was actually quite refreshing to do a run without any concept of time. It allowed me to take in the course and the many cheering spectators. I came up one steep hill and saw the Villarica volcano off in the distance. I thought to myself “You are in South America; swimming, biking and running for a living, with a volcano as the backdrop. This is fricken’ amazing!”

Almost the entire 7km course was lined with people. You couldn’t help but want to push yourself. I ran hard from start to finish. Many times throughout the run I thought to myself that this race needs to be a 70.3 World Championship. It would make for an honest and fair race, and would be an experience that no one would ever forget. The finish line was amazing. It is the loudest and most crowded finish line I have ever crossed.

The post-race press conference was an interesting experience. There had to have been 20 or 30 microphones all jumbled together on the table. I felt like I was at a post UFC press conference, or one of the “big 4 sports” in North America. They asked me the first question (which had to be translated to English) and realized I didn’t speak a word of Spanish, and then never asked me another question. I vowed then that if I ever came back to Pucon I would buy a Rossetta Stone and at least learn some basic Spanish.

I can’t think of a single negative thing to say about this race, the organization or the community. It was world class on every level. I really hope to do a World Championship here at some point in my career. I want to give a big thanks to everyone for reading and following along. I know a lot of people in North America didn’t get to experience much coverage, but wanted to. Erin fully intended on periscoping the race, but for some reason periscope wouldn’t work on a 3G cellphone network. Next up, I will put my nose to the grind stone and swim with the local club hardcore until Oceanside 70.3. I intend on giving regular updates with the progression in the meantime.