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  • Writer's pictureRon Saetermoe

Cap Cana 70.3 Race Report

Cap Cana 70.3 wasn’t remotely on my radar until my girlfriend found it. Since I already had my qualifying spot for the 70.3 Worlds in Taupo, New Zealand, she shopped for a race that she could qualify at.

Sure, Oceanside would have been easier logistically, but she didn’t want to do the same old race. She scoured the planet and found this race in the Dominican Republic – somewhere neither of us has been before. Cool!

The first thing that hits you, after the heat and humidity, is how friendly the people are. Everywhere we went the people were extremely accommodating, especially the volunteers on the racecourse. I estimate I’ve done about 250 triathlons and NEVER have the volunteers tried so hard. They didn’t always know what to do, but they sure wanted to help.

Those considering this race need to be prepared for the hottest, humidest (not a real word) and windiest races they have ever done. We had it all and it was brutal. Another thing you need to be prepared for is a very weird swim.

The swim course is directly in front of the resorts, which makes it easy if you’re staying at one of them. The ease of accessing the start and transition is great. However, and maybe this is a “plus” for some triathletes, you can stand up almost everywhere on the course. The water went from about five feet deep to one foot deep. People were standing up all over the place!

The day of the race the water was very stirred up so the visibility was awful so there wouldn’t be any fish spotting. For me, my swim was way below par. Since it was 85.9 degrees, I decided to really pull back on the effort so I wouldn’t be cooked for the bike. My swim time was 37:34 which was the second fastest in my age group (65 – 69) and my slowest of all time!

It was quite a long transition run through the beach into T-1 but the transition was uneventful. Those of us on the beach-side of T-1 had a long run with our bikes and up a hill to get to the mount line.

As I was running through transition, I decided I’d see if anyone had the Ironman Tracker app so I could see where I was placed. Guess what? No one knows what the app is in DR! I asked at least 20 groups of people, and no one knew. Oh well.

The road near the Margaritaville Hotel was quite rough. It reminded me of the Ironman South Africa bike course. However, after three miles, the rough road gave way to a smooth blacktop surface. A few twists and turns and we were off on the toll road.

The toll road was very nice, but it was windy out there. The other thing that was unexpected were the long, gradual climbs and descents. None of them were probably over three degrees but they went on forever.

One disappointing development was the drafting. Groups of 20 – 30 guys (I only spotted men in these groups) all riding together would blaze by me. It wouldn’t have been to my benefit to even try to hang on because the groups were flying. One group had a draft marshal blowing his whistle to get them to break up, but they never did, nor did anyone get a drafting penalty. Hello? Jimmy Riccitello? Time to make a trip to DR!

The wind was primarily with us on the way out the toll road but in our face on the way back. I wanted to push more watts, but the heat and humidity just wouldn’t let me without exceeding my 160-target heartrate.

My bike split was 2:46:15 which was good enough for the second fastest.

By the time I hit T-2 I was pooped. You know the feeling. The thought of “how the heck am I going to run 13.1 miles now?”

I jogged out of transition but walked up the small hill at the exit. Since my TriDot RaceX plan had me at an 8:45 pace I picked it up for a while, but it was not to be.

If you’ve read any of my other stuff you know I race according to my heartrate. I just know that if I exceed 160 HR my time at that pace will be limited. What it equated to that day was more like 9:30 pace. I wasn’t happy about it, but I wasn’t going to push it.

I was hot and frustrated but kept slogging along at my 9:30 pace. I walked every aid station on the course (and there were quite a few) and used a new contraption I figured out. One of the gifts in our goodie bag was a small towel in a mesh bag. That bag was perfect for refilling at each aid station that had ice. The ice seemed to melt down to nothing just before the next aid station. I think I feel a patent pending!

At mile 10 the wheels came off. Although I followed my nutrition and hydration plan, and had my mesh ice bag, I still started to develop cramps. And while I’m not one prone to cramping, my left ankle cramped badly the week before on a practice swim, of all things.

Well, the cramp was back. I tried stretching and massage, but I couldn’t get it to relent, so I walked. Then, I’d try to run again, and it would cramp up. Then, my ham string started to cramp. This was all very strange for me. So, I did what I could do and that was a walk/hobble for the remaining five kilometers.

My run may have been the worst of my entire triathlon career at 2:24:33 for fourth fastest. I gave it all I had on the day which is as much as anyone could ask.

Through all that I still managed to win my age group with an overall time of 5:56:14 which was about 20 minutes faster than 2nd and 3rd place. Now this wasn’t a very competitive race (only six of us in my age group) so believe me when I say I’m not bragging. The race organizers told us there were around 1,000 entrants but I only see 741 finishers in the data (that would be a massive drop-out rate). I’m not sure if Ironman was happy with that number but it was plenty for me.

My girlfriend, Aida managed to win her age group as well (60 – 64) but decided she didn’t want the 70.3 Worlds spot, so she let it roll to the next woman who was thrilled to get it.

Overall, it was a fun event. If you like it “hot” this will be a great race for you.

See you at the races!


Coach Ron Saetermoe


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