Hanson and Kanute End Season at Clash Daytona

Rewire Athletes Matt Hanson and Ben Kanute put a close to their 2021 seasons on Saturday, as the Daytona Speedway swapped motor racing for some of the world’s finest triathletes. Taking on a course in and around a circuit best known for the season-opening Daytona 500 in NASCAR, a 20-strong men’s pro field looked to bring the curtain down in style on a 2021 season that held plenty of intrigue.

The Clash Daytona event took place just over a year on from the 2020 PTO Championships at the same venue, in which Matt Hanson took second place behind a dominant Gustav Iden. The 2021 event saw victories for Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt in the men’s race and American Jackie Hering in the women’s, the latter taking her first win of 2021.

The two-lap swim course took place in Lake Lloyd, an artificial body of water situated in the centre of the racetrack that was formed by the combination of a high water table, and the removal of enough earth to form the 31° banked turns at either end of the circuit.

After a commanding win by over 2 minutes at the California Ironman 70.3 just over a month prior, Kanute swapped West Coast for East, and was well-primed to take on the two kilometre swim.  The 2016 Olympian led the field through the end of the swim in a time of 24:35, tied with eventual 12th-placer Marc Dubrick, 11 seconds ahead of their nearest challengers.

Matt Hanson was just over two minutes behind, his 26:36 placing him ninth out of the water.

While the bike leg for those in the amateur field took the athletes out of the stadium, the professionals had the benefit of staying within the confines of the circuit, tackling 20 four kilometre laps at a blistering pace. Seventh after the swim, Danish athlete Magnus Ditlev catapulted himself up the field to finish the bike leg in first place, after completing the 80 kilometres in 1:40:44, nearly two minutes faster than his closest competitor.

Both Kanute and Hanson had steady cycle legs, with Kanute producing 1:44:08 for fifth-fastest leg, and Hanson 1:44:32 for seventh-fastest, the pair split by former WorldTour cyclist Adam Hansen. Kanute was fourth into T2, positioned behind Ditlev and the pair who would join him on the podium at the conclusion of the race, Kristian Blummenfelt and Rudy von Berg.

Despite a bike leg that averaged 47.6 km/h, giving him a buffer of over 2.5 minutes ahead of the chasing Kristian Blummenfelt, it did not prove to be enough as the Olympic champion reeled in and caught the fading Dane well before the line. 

It should be no surprise that fresh off the fastest men’s Ironman time in history, Blummenfelt produced a searing run over the 18 kilometres, finishing in a time of 58:18 for the overall victory and a total time of 3:08:30.

Ditlev was the next athlete home, followed by von Berg, with fourth position occupied by a charging Matt Hanson. With Hanson the only man under the hour mark on the run bar Blummenfelt, 59:44 led the Minnesota-born athlete to a total time of 3:12:46, and a healthy prize pot of $5,500.

Kanute unfortunately did not fare so well on his run, his 1:05:47 dropping the 28-year-old two places to sixth overall in a time of 3:16:11. However, the University of Arizona alum can look back at a highly successful 2021 season that cemented his place as one of the world’s best, with a top 10 PTO ranking, and victories in both the California Ironman 70.3 and Escape from Alcatraz, as well as strong showings at both the Collins Cup and the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

Ben Kanute Sixth in Strong Showing at Ironman 70.3 World Championships

The Ironman 70.3 World Championships took place on Saturday in St George, Utah, with Rewire Athlete Ben Kanute placing sixth in a strong field that saw Gustav Iden retain his title with a breakaway victory.

Kanute had tackled the course previously this year, and the Arizona-based Athlete was looking to make amends after an uncharacteristically poor performance in early May.

Sadly, the event was without Rewire Athlete Matt Hanson, who after a strong performance in the Collins Cup three weeks prior, sustained a knee injury which prevented him from racing. Having had surgery on the problem joint on the Thursday prior to the event, the 36-year-old is already back in light training.

Temperate waters in the Sand Hollow Reservoir allowed swimming without wetsuits for the 1.2 mile swim, and Kanute started well on his favoured leg, jumping out to a slim two second lead over eventual ninth-placer Sam Appleton at the halfway split.

Despite losing his swim cap, the PTO world number 11 led a pack of five other leaders through the end of the swim in a time of 23:48, with the gap to second place staying at 2 seconds.

Finding his feet immediately out of the water, the Rio Olympian put a gap into the chasing athletes up the ramp, with an efficient transition generating a lead of 8 seconds out of T1 over Olympic champion Kristian Blummenfelt.

A two-time winner of 70.3 events in the past, taking first at Texas in 2018, and California the year after, Kanute held a slender advantage over 70.3 world record-holder Blummenfelt at the first bike split, 5 seconds his lead at the 7.9 mile mark.

Just shy of half an hour into the 56 mile bike leg, the 70.3 World Championship second-placer from 2017 was passed for the first time. After being a minute back at the end of the swim, German Frederic Funk made his way to the front of the field, holding a 5 second advantage at the 13 mile split.

As the cycle leg progressed, a tight lead pack started to churn, with Kanute seen between second and fourth at various points either side of 22 miles, despite passing that split in the lead.

At the 42.4 mile split, Kanute was a victim of Gustav Iden’s desire to push the pace

At the 42.4 mile split, the 2021 Escape from Alcatraz winner was a victim of Gustav Iden’s desire to push the pace. The Norwegian was one of only two men to go under two hours on the bike leg, the other being Dane Magnus Ditlev. With the lead pack slimmed down to Iden, Funk, and Ditlev, Kanute found himself 56 seconds back in seventh position, as part of a large chase group.

Iden further pressed home his advantage, coming off the bike with 2:25:06 elapsed, as Kanute was part of a group of 8 athletes entering T2 around three minutes back of the leader. Splitting 2:03:13, the Illinois-born racer entered T2 with 2:28:09 elapsed.

While the race for the title was over as a contest early on, with the gap to Iden only growing, Kanute began the third leg in the hunt for the other medal positions, placing fourth at the first run split.

Kanute’s time of 3:43:48 was only slightly outside the time that won him silver at the Texas 70.3 earlier in the year

Unfortunately, silverware proved elusive on the day for Kanute. With hail pouring down as the men approached the halfway point of the run leg, and the 28-year-old slipping as low as seventh at points, he passed a fast-fading Ditlev in the closing stages to finish in sixth position. His time of 3:43:48 at the conclusion of the competition was only slightly outside the 3:42:20 that won him silver at the Texas 70.3 event earlier in the year, as he split 1:15:05 for the half marathon distance to finish.

At the head of the field, long-time leader Gustav Iden finished in a time of 3:37:13, with Sam Long making up for a poor swim and T1 with 3:41:09 and second. Daniel Bækkegård again got the better of Kanute after winning their Collins Cup matchup, placing third in a time of 3:42:24.

Athletes like Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, Simone Biles and others taking time off due to mental and physical stress & burnout

Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, 6-time cycling world champion, has ended her 2021 season early.

Less than a month after retaining her European title in cross-country mountain biking, the Frenchwoman shared an emotive post on social media as she announced the end to her racing for the year.

“I feel deeply tired, mentally and physically. I don’t have energy and my body is clearly not recovering from training. I decided to stop my season before I make too much damage to my body.

“I’m happy with my decision because I know it’s the best one. I will come back stronger next year.”

After leaving top-tier road squad Canyon-SRAM at the end of 2020, the 29-year-old had produced some strong results in the year to date.

Starting the season with mountain bike team Absolute Absalon-BMC, Ferrand-Prévot secured bronze in a sprint finish at the inaugural Short Track Cross-country World Championships, and sits third in the World Cup standings for cross-country even after her withdrawal from racing at the fifth round in Lenzerheide, Switzerland.

The versatile cyclist, who has previously won world titles in three different disciplines, joins a host of athletes recently in opening up about struggles surrounding their performance at the top level, with mental and physical fatigue often leading to further issues.

Such was the case at the Tokyo Olympics, when strongly-favoured American Simone Biles felt unable to compete in the team final of the gymnastics, with mental health her primary concern. A quadruple gold medallist the Olympics prior, the Texas-based athlete only returned for the final of the balance beam, winning bronze to equal the record for medals won by a US gymnast.

With an extended five year Olympic cycle in the lead-up to the Games, Biles was the poster child of the event for many at home. Expected by many to equal or improve on her medal haul from the Rio Games, the Ohio-born gymnast was philosophical after her withdrawal.

“We have to protect our minds and our bodies and not just go out and do what the world wants us to do… We’re not just athletes. We’re people at the end of the day and sometimes you just have to step back.”

Despite the mental effects of sport being at the forefront of debate for the first time in recent years, such topics have been present for a significant period of time.

6-time snooker World Champion Ronnie O’Sullivan, whose experience of burnout and stress has been well-documented, has abandoned matches and skipped tournaments due to the demands sport has placed on him.

More recently, four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka withdrew from the 2021 French Open after winning her first round match, refusing to participate in press conferences throughout due to the strain on her mental health.

Despite taking a break from competition and skipping the Wimbledon Championships, the 23-year-old announced a hiatus from tennis after an early loss at the US Open, stating that, “[W]hen I win, I don’t feel happy. I feel more like a relief. And then when I lose, I feel very sad.”

No matter the level of competition, participating in sport creates fatigue, both mental and physical, with training placing significant demands on the body, and stressors from all areas adding to the cognitive demands involved.

We created Rewire to help athletes that are looking to combat mental and physical fatigue in and out of competition.

Whether it is assessing readiness for competition or training, or training the brain to cope better with mental fatigue, the Rewire app has you covered.

Start your free trial with Rewire today to maximise your potential, and improve your resilience to mental fatigue.

Collins Cup 2021: Hanson and Kanute in Team US

Rewire Athletes Matt Hanson and Ben Kanute tackled the inaugural staging of the Professional Triathletes Organisation’s Collins Cup in Šamorín, Slovakia on Saturday, a team event featuring squads from the US, Europe, and the Internationals, formed of those hailing from outside the two geographical powerhouses of triathlon.

Matched up against some of the best the rest of the world had to offer, both finished second in their three person matches, with Kanute less than two minutes back of the leader in the gruelling three hour long event, bringing home 3.5 points for Team US, while Hanson ceded a longer gap to the first-placed athlete in his match, gaining 2 points.

The overall team result saw Europe take victory with 42.5 points, winning half of the 12 matches, including four straight in the middle of the competition, with the US finishing on 31.5, and Team Internationals languishing with 25.5.

Both athletes had qualified for the US team by virtue of their PTO World Rankings, and they joined four other men and six women to form the US team, led by six-time Ironman World Champion Mark Allen, and dual ITU World Champion Karen Smyers.

Three days prior to the event saw a televised draft to decide which athletes would contest each of the 12 matches that made up the unique event format, rewarding athletes with points for both finishing position, and margin of victory.

Match 10 saw Team Europe pick first, selecting Daniel Bækkegård. In response, Captains Allen and Smyers selected Kanute, who sat one place behind Bækkegård at eleventh in the world rankings coming into the competition. Australian Max Neumann was the final athlete selected, the world number 17 representing Team Internationals against two athletes with the capability to produce a swim leg up there with the best in the world.

“I think a lot of people underestimate Daniel, we did not, but we are going to put somebody against him who is absolutely fearless, and willing to put everything he has out there and a little bit more to make it super exciting and to bring home the win.”

The following match saw first pick back with Team US, and Matt Hanson was their penultimate selection of the draft, as the captains emphasised the quality of the 36-year-old’s running. The response from Team Internationals was to field Braden Currie, winner of Ironman New Zealand at age 35 on home turf earlier this year, and Team Europe chose German Patrick Lange, also 35, for one of the oldest matchups on the day.

Kanute was first out of the water in his match, his 25:20 for the 2 kilometre distance only being bettered by two other athletes all day. Unfortunately for Matt Hanson, however, those two athletes were both in his match, and so his time of 27:00 gave him a deficit of just under two minutes going into T1.

Coming off a fourth consecutive win at the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, Kanute made up time in transition over the long course specialists, to stretch a lead of a solitary second coming out of the water to over 10 seconds entering the bike leg.

Shortly after the pair made their exit from the Danube, the US had the first win of the day delivered by Taylor Knibb, who had put seven minutes into her nearest challenger on both the bike and run legs to finish with maximum points and a lead of over 15 minutes.

On a damp course, which featured multiple bike leg crashes and missed turnings, both Rewire Athletes managed to keep on track, and rubber side down, with Kanute extending the gap to Bækkegård to over a minute early on in the 80 kilometre ride.

Kanute’s lead did not hold, unfortunately, with Bækkegård reeling the Rio Olympian in towards the end of the leg, as the American finished in a time of 1:47:23, holding a slender four second lead as the athletes entered the final 18 kilometres of the race. Ahead for much of the early running, Kanute eventually relinquished his lead to the Dane, generating a time just over the hour mark of 1:01:10 for his leg, which featured an impressive sprint finish.

Hanson clocked 1:51:59 for the bike leg, and emerged from T2 with a slight lead over Team Europe’s Lange, though with a four minute gap to Braden Currie ahead. The former professor’s buffer stretched to over a minute mid-run, and he finished in 1:03:25.

For Kanute, a total finishing time of 3:16:49 garnered him 3.5 points, courtesy of a significant margin over Neumann in third. However, the American could consider himself unfortunate, with the fastest non-winning time of any of the matches, and the fourth-fastest time overall behind two members of the world rankings top 3 in Jan Frodeno and Gustav Iden, and Bækkegård.

Hanson’s 3:25:46 generated 2 points, as an irrepressible Braden Currie stormed to victory in match 11. The Colorado-based athlete did well to hold the gap to Currie under six minutes, avoiding the Kiwi bringing home maximum points for Team Internationals.

Ben Kanute wins Escape from Alcatraz 2021

Rewire Athlete Ben Kanute finished as the first athlete home at the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon yesterday, leading a field containing more than 1500 athletes.

Returning to the San Francisco-based event after a pandemic-enforced hiatus in 2020, Kanute came to California searching for his fourth consecutive title, having improved on a 3rd place in his first appearance in 2016 to win each edition from 2017 onwards.

Contesting the win and $25,000 prize pot with seven other pros, the American fought for the win over a course featuring a 1.5 mile swim in the San Francisco Bay, and waterfront bike and run legs lasting 18 miles and 8 miles respectively.

Starting with an iconic leap from the San Francisco Belle, the swim leg saw Kanute enter the first transition 46 seconds back of fellow pro Greg Harper, sitting in second with a time of 33:16.

Showing strong leg speed out of the water, the Rio Olympian pushed through a half mile long swim-to-bike transition to halve the gap to Harper, and pull further away from the chasing pack behind ahead of the bike leg.

On a hilly and technical route that took athletes along the leafy San Francisco coastline, Kanute took the lead from Harper and never relinquished it, completing the 18 mile loop in 46:50 to lead by 49 seconds going into the bike-to-run transition.

Eventual third-place finisher Bradley Weiss had made up 11 seconds on Kanute through the bike leg, but the gap stretched to over a minute after T2, where the Arizona-based athlete again was the best performer of the professional field.

Despite the benefit of a buffer of 1:07 from second place, and over two minutes’ gap to the remainder of the pro field, Kanute needed no such advantage on the run leg, as he put together the fastest run leg of the pro field in 45:44.

The result was a convincing one, and Kanute was rewarded with a finish time of 2:10:11 (and a top prize of $10,000) for his efforts, more than two minutes ahead of second place.

That second place was taken by Jason West, who also performed well on the run leg. The world #95 put together an 8 mile time just two seconds slower than Kanute’s to finish second (2:12:16) ahead of a fading Bradley Weiss in third (2:12:41).

Next up for the US international is the Collins Cup later this month, where fellow he and fellow Rewire Athlete Matt Hanson will take the best the rest of the world has to offer, in the form of combined European and International teams, over a course that consists of a 2 kilometre swim, 80 kilometre bike, and 18 kilometre run.