To kick off the 2016 Ironman season, we traveled (virtually) to southern Chile (where it was anything but chilly) for 70.3 Pucon, now celebrating its 9th anniversary (pottery being the appropriate gift for that, just in case you were wondering).
Featured pros: Igor Amorelli, Pipo Barraza, Daniel Fontana, Ben Collins, Barrett Brandon, Barbara Riveros (2015 champion), Valentina Carvallo, Rachel Joyce, Lauren Brandon
Here’s what you need to know about the course:
- The 2-loop swim takes place in Lake Villarrica, which features the Villarrica Volcano as its backdrop. Note: swim away from the volcano.
- The bike course is HILLY. There’s also a lot of wind. And a volcano. Bike away from the volcano.
The pro men took off 5 minutes ahead of the women, and Pipo Barraza was the first man out – followed by Luciano Taccone, Augustin Feres, and Igor Amorelli. As we’re used to seeing, Lauren Brandon opened up a sizable gap on the swim (25:26), already putting almost 3 minutes on Valentina Carvallo and Barbara Riveros (28:20, 28:22). Following a few seconds back in 4th place was Rachel Joyce (28:25).
Although Barazza hit the beach first, it was Ben Collins who jumped ahead up lead the early miles of the bike, with Taccone and Barraza close behind. By 35km, Amorelli had taken over the lead, opening up a gap on Taccone and Barraza as Collins fell off pace. A large chase pack formed over the next 10k, including Taccone, Fontana, Barraza, Manocchio, Carvalho, Collins, and Barrett Brandon (not to be outdone by wife Lauren, who was leading the women’s race). Less than an hour later, Collins had ridden back up to Amorelli, and the pair hit T2 within 10 seconds of each other. Fontana, Taccone, Barrett, Barraza, and Manocchio were still hanging out together 7 minutes down on Collins and Amorelli. As the men headed out on the run, we thought we were looking at a Collins-Amorelli battle for 1-2, with 3rd-7th up for grabs amongst the chasers (we thought wrong).
Collins looked intent on winning this race, opening up an early 1 minute lead on Amorelli (the poor bloke was “not looking well” according to those out on the course); Collins extended his lead to a solid 2:30 by 10k. Barraza broke away from the rest of the 5 man chase group to take early command of 3rd place, with Manocchio also attempting to separate himself from the pack in 4th. Amorelli ended up blowing his 7 minute lead off the bike, clearly riding the struggle bus as Barraza, Manocchio, and Fontana caught up and made the pass. A strong run catapulted Collins across the finish line in 3:59:02 – not a bad way to open the 2016 season.
finish line interviewer: "But you weren't a pre-race favorite." me: "then maybe they didn't see me on the list."
— Benjamin Collins (@triBC) January 10, 2016
After running his way past Amorelli, Barraza still had to contend with a late surge from Manocchio, who claimed 2nd place in 4:03:26 to Barraza’s 4:04:48.
- Ben Collins, 3:59:02
- Guilherme Manocchio, 4:03:26
- Pipo Barraza, 4:04:48
- Daniel Fontana, 4:06:24
- Igor Amorelli, 4:07:00
— Benjamin Collins (@triBC) January 10, 2016
Back to the women’s race: out on the bike, Lauren Brandon continued to lead Carvallo and Riveros, ultimately following up her fastest swim split with the fastest bike split (2:30:40). Carvallo and Riveros hit T2 together, 3:37 down on Brandon, with Rachel Joyce still holding down 4th, +9:40. By the end of lap 1 of the 3-lap run, Riveros – the defending champ & native Chilean – caught up to and took the lead away from Brandon for the first time today. Was Riveros just gunning for a repeat victory on her home turf, or had Brandon over-swam/biked? Either way, Riveros had a 35 second lead as the ladies went through 11km.
Lauren Brandon: not a huge fan of hills.
Here’s the 1st of many hills. Stuggled a bit to get my bum up them. Never have I been so excited to run on the flats https://t.co/Ll0nFJiv3W
— Lauren Brandon (@lb_brandon) January 10, 2016
In the closing miles, Carvallo was next to pass the fading Brandon, but the big surprise was Rachel Joyce blowing by both Carvallo and Brandon to take 2nd. Joyce couldn’t catch up to Riveros, who successfully defended her title by a 4-minute margin in 4:42:10.
- Barbara Riveros, 4:42:10
- Rachel Joyce, 4:46:28
- Valentina Carvallo, 4:47:46
- Lauren Brandon, 4:49:28
Rachel Joyce has the right idea. Eyes on the volcano.
Volcano watch ? pic.twitter.com/tF3gi0qxKl
— Rachel Joyce (@RJoyce09) January 11, 2016
A final friendly reminder from Barrett Brandon to watch the Island House Triathlon:
— Barrett Brandon (@barrettbrandon) January 9, 2016