On this episode, the Rewire Team discuss with Ben the mental demands of competing on the world stage, as well as some of the ways he trains, recovers and monitors his mind and body in preparation for a race to ensure that he’s ready to perform. We dive into Ben’s journey to where he is today, as well as his obsession with some of triathlon’s hardest and most unique races, like Escape from Alcatraz.
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.
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.
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.