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In winning IRONMAN Texas, Matt Hanson regained his title to become the 2017 North American IRONMAN champion, set a new course record and posted the fastest IRONMAN time ever by an American.

Previously winning the race and holding the title in 2015, Hanson returned to the course last year with similar goals but fell short after blowing himself up on the run. Hanson returned this year looking to make his mark again and pulled out an exceptional day stating “IMTX has a way of making me dig deep…sometimes too deep. I earned my pro card here in 2013, set my first ever run course record and got my first IM payday in 2014, had a huge breakout win at the NA champs in 2015 and put myself into the ground a few miles before the finish in 2016. I love this course and look forward to the race every year. This was definitely the race that was fueling all of my off-season training.”

Hanson put together one his best swim-bike combos to set himself up for a phenomenal day. All alone at the end of the swim, Hanson was 18th out of the water, 2:51 back from the leader, with a large group of 17 all of whom were within one minute of one another. “I think this was the best all-around race I’ve ever put together. By far the best I’ve executed in the swim. I was hanging on to the back of the first pack through the second turn which was definitely a hard pace for me. There were a number of surges and I was relying heavily on my legs to cover them. I ended up getting some calf cramps the last 1/3 of the swim and lost nearly 3 minutes just through the canal. Still, a huge step forward for me. The swim is definitely what set up a successful day for me.”

Out of transition and onto the bike Hanson had a decision to make explaining “I got out of the water in ‘no-man’s land’, smack in the middle of the first and second pack. I knew there would be a charge from the second pack, so I had to decide whether to sit and get swallowed by the second pack early or do the work early on and bridge alone to the first. I chose to do the work early on.”

Putting his head down on the 112-mile relatively flat and fast bike course, by mile 20 Hanson reduced his deficit to a large group of now 12 riders down to under a minute. Meanwhile everybody was losing significant time to super biker Starykowicz. 40 miles in, Hanson had closed his significant almost 3-minute gap putting himself into the front group that was now close to 7 minutes back of Starykowicz. Recovered from his effort, Hanson was well able to go with the tactical moves to stay at the front end and separate himself from the large group towards the end of the bike. Hanson finished the bike section solo in 4th, 14:48 down from the lead (5th fastest bike split) working to minimize his loss to Starykowicz who blew the field up on the bike with a by far best 4:01:14 ride time. “I was guessing the second pack would join the 1st, then a few of the uber bikers would try to go off the front of the pack. I wanted to be ready for that. I was able to bridge the gap, then recover a bit for when the attacks started. My guess came to fruition and I was able to respond whenever someone tried to get away. This slowly broke apart the pack and I ended up riding alone in 4th coming into T2. I had a solid ride, I didn’t hold the average power that I planned throughout the entire ride, but I made good decisions all day long and used my power wisely. I was able to stay within myself and that allowed me to stay aero and efficient the entire ride. I was definitely pleased with that!”

Within 8 miles onto the run, Hanson was running in 3rd and had made up 6 minutes on Starykowicz. Hanson moved into 2nd place before the halfway mark and the deficit to the lead was coming down quickly as he clicked through the miles making the pass into the lead 14 miles in.

Although he was ripping through the marathon near to his typical incredible clip, Hanson explained that “I’m not really sure why, perhaps because of very little time swimming outside of the pool in open water but I was fighting off cramps from the beginning of the day. Both calfs and my big toe cramped in the water. I got onto the bike and was able to get my EFS-PRO flowing and that seemed to settle things down. I was taking in nearly 500 cal/hr of EFS-PRO which seemed to keep everything at bay. I got to the run and didn’t feel great right away. I wasn’t taking full strides yet through the first mile and in the second mile, I had a lower back spasm which completely stopped me. It was extremely painful, but I got it to settle down enough to get back to running after 10-15 seconds of stretching/walking. I had my flask of EFS Liquid Shot and I started to take sips of that (earlier than I normally would have during the run). Between that and the cola at aid stations, I was able to manage to get everything to relax and by the 4th mile, I was running normally with a full stride and relatively pain free. I managed to keep my calfs from cramping the rest of the run by sticking to my nutrition plan. The last 3 miles were pretty painful. At the turn in the finisher chute, my hamstrings both locked up at the same time pretty much out of nowhere. It was good to know that even when I started cramping in the water, that my day was not over. I trusted my race nutrition plan and just carried on with attempting to execute the game plan.” 

Dr.Matt Hansen

Hanson who is also a key member of the First Endurance Research Board further remarked “As a professor of human performance, I have a strong knowledge of the human body and its needs during Ironman racing. With all this knowledge I also know that the human body and environmental and physical demands create a lot of variables and we can’t always predict or predicate what may or may not happen. I plan to analyze my race and to see what can be done to go even faster.”

Following a 2:42:07 run split (6 seconds shy of the fastest run split on the day) to break the tape in 7:52:44 to win, Hanson said “It was incredible to come out on top, but it was also so much fun to be in such a tight race. So many guys seemed to put together great days (top 5 were sub 8 hr finishes) and to just be in the mix with such a talented field was pretty awesome.”

Along with regaining the title, Hanson’s finish time of 7:52:44 (swim: 51:46 (120/100m), bike: 4:13:53 (26.47mph), run: 2:42:07 (6:11/mi)) was a new course record in Texas and the fastest American IRONMAN time ever recorded.

“This was definitely a great day for me and was yet another IMTX experience I will never forget. I had no idea what my overall time was until coming into the finish chute and seeing the clock. I cannot describe the rush of emotion that went through me as I crossed the line.”

 

 

 

 

IRONMAN Texas North American Championships
The Woodlands, TX
April 22, 2017

1. Matt Hanson (USA)                7:52:44  swim-51:46 (120/100m)   bike: 4:13:53 (26.47mph)   run: 2:42:07 (6:11/mi)
2. Ronnie Schildknecht (CHE) 7:56:21
3. Tyler Butterfield (BMU)        7:58:29
4. Will Clarke (GBR)                   7:59:02
5. Kirill Kotsegarov (EST)          7:59:32
6. Matthew Russell (USA)          8:01:35
7. Leon Griffin (AUS)                  8:04:04
8. David Plese (SVN)                   8:05:08
9. Callum Millward (NZL)          8:07:13
10. Marc Duelsen (DEU)            8:07:25