Campeche 70.3 Race Report:

This year was my fourth trip down to Campeche. I have always struggled racing there in the past…it can be quite difficult to prep for a hot early season race while living in Storm Lake, Iowa! However, I have slowly performed better and better there.

Over my four attempts at the race I progressed from 6th to 5th, then up to 4th last year. This year I was able to bring home the win.

I really did not know what to expect going into race day. To start, this was my first race back from the sacral stress fracture that I was diagnosed with in September. I did zero running on solid ground between September 8th and January 1st! While I was slowly able to ramp up my run volume, I was still only about 1/2 of the total volume YTD that I was in 2019 leading into the race and very little intensity as well. However, I was healthy and I knew that the swim and bike were going to be in a good place.

To add to the normal stress of a race weekend, we were dealing with the COVID-19 situation. From the time I left home on Wednesday evening and the time I arrived in Campeche on Late Thursday evening, things had really escalated significantly. There was quite a bit of talk that the race would be canceled which made it difficult to wrap my head around the race. From a personal standpoint, I knew that there were no reported cases at that point in the area, so the risk to myself was primarily during travel to and from the event. Since I had already traveled down to the race and had to find a way back, I made the decision to race provided the local government felt it was safe to do so. I am definitely thankful to get the opportunity to get an early season race in before things shut down for the foreseeable future.

Campeche is one of the few races with an afternoon start. This obviously disrupts the normal routine on race day. It also increases the effects of the environment on the race being the temps and the winds tend to peak around 2:00pm.

Since there was a later start, I had to add some solid food to my normal race morning breakfast. So on race morning I had some oats, applesauce, and my standard two servings of Ultragen. I then sipped on EFS-PRO for the remainder of the morning and while setting up transition.

The start gun went off at 12:50pm and thankfully the water stayed relatively calm despite the winds starting to pick up. I was able to weather the storm that is the first 500m of the swim and settle in on the feet of the leaders. I ended up coming out of the water 3rd which is definitely not a luxury I have enjoyed in many races.

This really set up the rest of my day and allowed me to stay somewhat conservative on the bike which is important in hot races. I have been playing around with my race day nutrition plan on the bike quite a bit. I lose about 3g of salt an hour and typically target 500 calories an hour on the bike. So it is always hard to find the right balance of calories, electrolytes, and fluids to make sure that I am getting everything I need and able to pass it through the gut without GI issues.

For this race, I went with 2 bottles of EFS-PRO mixed at 1.5x regular strength and another bottle of standard EFS mixed at 2x regular strength. Then I grabbed water at every aid station and was able to hit my target of drinking 2 bottles of fluid total an hour and maintain proper osmolality in the gut so I had no GI issues. I spent most of the ride swapping between second and third with a fellow First Endurance athlete, Jackson Laundry. Weiss did catch me with about eight miles to go on the bike, so I rolled into transition in third and about 90 seconds off the lead. 

Getting off the bike in sight of the leaders is always motivating for me. I didn’t know exactly what to expect out of my run, but I knew with the total mileage I had in my legs, the last 5k was going to hurt quite a bit.

I made a quick decision to do the work early. The plan was to try to get and build a lead on the first 1/2 of the run, then protect it as best I could on the back half. I was able to take over the lead around the 5k mark and slowly built the lead up over Laundry to about 60 seconds through the 10 mile mark.

At that point, I was just making sure I didn’t do anything to screw up! I always race with an EFS liquid shot flask which I sip on for most of my calories during the run, then just get some water and coke from the aid stations as needed. At the Mexican races, the water is in plastic bags and I was grabbing 2-3 bags at each stop. While fumbling with the bags at one of the aid stations, I dropped my flask without realizing it. So I had to rely on course nutrition for the last 10k of the run which I wasn’t thrilled about. However, I had done the job of properly fueling throughout the race up through that point and was able to get to the finish line without issue.

Overall, I’m thrilled to come home with a win. Podium performances are always hard to come by in this sport, so you never take them for granted. I went into this race with no outcome expectations.

My focus was really on just going out and celebrating the ability to have the opportunity to do what I love to do. Jackson was coming off a major injury as well, so it was really exciting to have both of us performing quite well after such big setbacks!

Dr. Matt Hanson

Dr. Matt Hanson

5x Ironman / 4x 70.3 champion

Dr. Matt Hanson is a professional triathlete and coach for triathletes, cyclists and runners. He has an extensive background as an athlete and is highly-educated in all things sports-related.