The Men’s race at the Ironman North American Championships in The Woodlands, Texas last weekend, saw Matt Hanson set a new record for American men at an Ironman event. Trizone looks back at the event.
Whether the bike course was slightly shortened or not, last weekend’s race saw some huge finishers in the men’s field with five men making it over the line under eight hours.
The weather in The Woodlands was incredibly temperate, making for a perfect morning. As the swim progressed, American James Capparell surged forwards and exited the water first in just 48:56, followed closely by Jarrod Shoemaker, Bermuda’s Tyler Butterfield, The Netherlands’ Bas Diederen, Will Clarke of Great Britain and the rest of a fierce chase pack. The lead group was comprised of a heavily concentrated group of 17 men, setting the scene for an epic bike leg.
Two and a half minutes behind the lead pack was American Matt Hanson. “I came out of the water in no-man’s land so had to make the decision of whether or not to work to bridge or wait to get swallowed by the second pack,” he told Ironman… “I bridged the gap to the first pack around the 55 minute mark and I stayed just off the back for quite a while.”
While Hanson was planning his strategy and managing his power accordingly, after the two-hour mark; others started to attack for the front. Joe Skipper looked as though he might break away, but Matt Hanson, who’d slowly moved forwards, was able to prevent the move. Soon after, Skipper suffered a flat tyre, and strong rider Matt Russell had pulled over to the side, leaving Hanson to push to the front of the race.
After a significant time at the front, Hanson scaled back his efforts. “I backed off right after the turn [at mile 80] so one of the other guys would take over. I was trusting my run legs and didn’t need to drive the pace,” Hanson told Ironman. After the turn around, Tyler Butterfield passed Hanson, who watched him go.
The lead became a battle between two fierce riders; American Andrew Starykowicz and Frenchman Anthony Costes.
Starykowicz powered through the bike leg in only 4:01:14, a new Ironman record for a full distance bike course.
This fierce speed gave him a 13:04 lead on Antony Costes of France. Costes had a solid swim of 49:10, and a speedy bike leg of 4:14:37. Costes was riding with very uncomfortable-looking MORFTEC handlebars. With such a speedy time, it does seem the discomfort may be worth the speed. As the rider neared T2, Matt Hanson was in fourth place.
Starykowicz had a significant lead at T2, but Costes and Butterfield were only two minutes ahead of the chasing Hanson. Costes, fatigued by his huge effort on the bike, slowed quickly and was overtaken by Hanson soon after T2. Butterfield maintained second place until the tenth mile when Hanson was able to overtake him. By the fourteenth mile, Hanson was unstoppable, and powered through to first place. Czech Ronnie Schildknecht, who’d had a fierce bike leg, came in second, with Bermuda’s Tyler Butterfield sped in third.
Congratulations to Matt Hanson, what a race!
Trizone also wants to say a huge congratulations to Andrew Starykowicz who set a new Ironman bike record less than a year after he was hit by a van while out training. After a huge recovery and serious injuries, this phenomenal result is a huge achievement.
- Matt Hanson 07:52:44
- Ronnie Schildknecht 7:56:21
- Tyler Butterfield 7:58:29