A hotbed for professional triathletes, Boulder, Colorado drew a competitive field to battle it out on the 2.4-mile Boulder Reservoir swim, challenging and hilly 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run through the Boulder Creek Trail finishing in downtown Boulder. Matt Hanson put together the 4th best swim, 3rd fastest bike, and finished it off with a race best sub 2:50 marathon to become the 2019 IRONMAN Boulder Champion.
Leading the chase pack out of the swim, Hanson was 4:19 down from the lead swimmers Brent McMahon, Tim O’Donnell, and Jeremy Jurkiewicz but was generally happy with his effort, stating
“I had a pretty decent swim overall. I wasn’t blazing fast, but I kept some of the best swimmers in the sport close enough to be happy coming out of the water. I ended up driving the chase pack and came out of the water just over 4 minutes down from the group of three.”
With known cyclists like Sam Long and ex pro cyclist Kennett Peterson within 11 seconds of him after the swim, Hanson wanted to limit his loss on the bike but remained patient, which paid off as he explained “I lost some time in T1 putting on socks and gloves. I’ve made the mistake of being too aggressive for a cold 70.3 before and I couldn’t use my hands at all in T2. So, I gave up some time to be able to function better later. That meant I was really able to stick to my numbers and ride alone all day. I lost a few minutes over the first 3 hours but ended up pulling them back in and was putting time into everyone over the last hour.”
While losing time to O’Donnell, Peterson, and Long in the first 70 miles of the bike, Hanson began to pull back time through the next 40 miles pulling into T2 4:36 down from O’Donnell, 3:05 to Peterson and 3:12 back from Long by riding the 3rd quickest bike split on the day, impressively just 1:19 slower than Peterson and 46 seconds shy of Long.
Hanson has been battling a back injury that caused severe cramps which he’s finally got under control (http://www.matthansontri.com/2019/05/21/why-i-was-cramping-and-what-am-doing-about-it/). In the early miles of the run, Hanson recounted “I was pretty confident with how my body was feeling and that I was going to have a chance to run for the win. There were some solid guys up front, so I knew I was going to have to be patient and take it a mile at a time.” By mile 6, Hanson passed Long, pulled back 2:54 on Peterson, and 2:46 on O’Donnell, who had been leading the race since the beginning of the bike. Unable to hold off Hanson’s incredible run speed, O’Donnell relinquished the lead to Hanson by mile 9, while Peterson hovered a little over a minute back remaining a potential threat. By mile 20 into the marathon, Hanson stretched his lead to Peterson up to 2:39.
Clocking a 2:48:35 marathon split, Hanson stormed through the tape ecstatic to take the win at IRONMAN Boulder, commenting “Winning any race is always hard. You have to have a nearly flawless day to come out on top amongst these competitive fields.Taking the tape is always a special and treasured moment. Even more so to be able to meet my wife at the finish line again. She had told me she wasn’t coming to this race due to work, so when I saw her race morning it was quite a surprise. I had so many family and friends who have been at races where I haven’t had the best of days, so to have them here to celebrate a win makes it even more special.”
Despite holding the World Record marathon split in an IRONMAN, Hanson was relieved to be able to open up and find his run stride given his back issues that were leading to cramping and expressed “It was so good to feel like my old self again on the run. My stride was pain free all day long. I definitely felt a bit of the lack of fitness that I haven’t been able to go after due to what was going on in my back the last few months. The last 10k were a real grind. But I am even more confident now that I am on the right track to solving the issue“
Finishing in 7:57:03, the 3-time North American IRONMAN Champion beat the course record by a staggering 10:57. Setting a new course record at IRONMAN Boulder, Hanson said “I am very excited to own another course record and to go sub 8 on a very difficult course. The conditions were great for fast racing, but in a smaller field it was quite a lonely day. Having my coach here and all of the friends, family, and teammates out on the course was definitely motivating. The crew I have been training with here in Boulder the last 2 weeks as I acclimated to the elevation is incredible. Coach Julie has put together a squad environment where everyone feeds off of each other’s energy. It definitely helped the confidence level leading into race day!”
June 9, 2019
1 Matt Hanson 7:57:03
2 Kennett Peterson 8:01:35
3 Timothy O’Donnell 8:09:37
4 Tripp Hipple 8:17:42
5 Sam Long 8:19:54
6 Justin Daerr 8:26:22
7 Tyler Butterfield 8:41:37
8 Pedro Gomes 8:44:08
9 Jeremy Jurkiewicz 8:48:55
10 Christopher Tommila 8:53:03