By: Paul Amos.
Photographer: Paul Amos
The Ironman 70.3 Ecuador triathlon was first held in Manta in 2015 and draws over 1,200 athletes annually. The fifth edition of the triathlon took place on July 7, 2019 and had 1,323 competitors. Three Cuenca expats, Bob Cox, Daniel Cañez, and I traveled to Manta to compete in the Ironman 70.3 Ecuador.
The Ironman 70.3 course begins with athletes swimming 1.2 miles in the Pacific Ocean. The water temperature on race morning was 78 degrees Fahrenheit under overcast skies. The transition between the swim and bike took place at Playa Murciélago. Athletes then do a 56-mile bike ride on the Ruta de Spondylus to the town of Crucita and back to Manta. The ride is challenging with moderate hills. Athletes finish with a 13.1 mile run along the coastline of Manta. The run course is scenic and flat to the finish line on the beach.
I have participated in five Ironman 70.3 events. I got off to a good start in the swim and my time of 40:10 was the fifth fastest swimmer in my age group. I got through the transition quickly and headed out on my bike to Crucita. I completed the bike course in 2:43:09 and was the sixth fastest in my age group. As I was finishing my bike ride, the sun broke through the clouds and the temperature rose quickly. The heat caused my leg muscles to cramp during the run, but I completed the half-marathon in 1:48:53. My total time of 5:16:59 earned me a fourth place finish within the 50-54 age group and in the top 10% of all finishers.
Daniel competed in his first ever Ironman 70.3 event the previous year in Manta and placed third in his age group (65-69). Unfortunately, he developed IT band syndrome in his left leg a few weeks before the race. Daniel still competed and finished his swim in 1:01:16, which was the second fastest swimmer in his age group. He also completed the 56-mile bike ride in 3:54:04. After completing the ride, his leg was bothering him and he felt it was best to call it a day rather than risk injuring his leg further on the run course. There were approximately 90 participants that did not finish the race.
Bob has the unique distinction of participating in every Ironman 70.3 Ecuador. He was the first swimmer out of the ocean in his age group in a time of 47:16 and held a 14-minute lead. His bike time of 3:36:53 was also near the top of his age group and he remained in first place after completing his bike ride. Bob persevered through the heat and humidity during the worst part of the day while running the half-marathon. His run time of 3:46:13 earned him a second place finish in the 65-69 age group with a total time of 8:22:20.
Ironman 70.3 Ecuador will take place in Manta again on July 12, 2020. As the saying for Ironman goes, “Anything is possible.”