Hanson Rips Run, Pallant-Browne Wins Back to Back Weekends at 70.3 Chattanooga

While the front of the men’s race was dominated through most of the day by the likes of Nicholas Quenet, Jackson Laundry, Antony Costes, and Trevor Foley, it was Matt Hanson who crossed the finish line first in a time of 3:41:21. Hanson made up a 4:30 bike deficit by running 1:09:48 on a day where temperatures reached the mid-70s. Quenet was in the lead until Hanson blew by him with less than 8:00 of running left. Quenet would, unfortunately, implode at the 12 mile mark and not be able to finish the race. It was a valiant effort from the South African athlete who just came up short. Hanson summarized his day by saying that, “It got started off with a really good swim…happy to come out of the water where I wanted to. Rode well for the first hour and then the group of 5 or 6 guys got away and so at that point it was salvage as much time as I could, be as efficient as I could, and do some damage on the run.” He knew he had a chance to win after cutting into half of the lead after the first lap of the run. He needed to run even and was able to do that. When asked for a one word description of his performance, Hanson replied, “Happy.”

With just 8 days in between her last 70.3 win in Mallorca, Emma Pallant-Browne finds herself atop another podium. Similar to her race last week in Mallorca, she came out of the water with a small deficit but worked her way towards the front on the bike. In today’s race, however, she came into T1 in the lead group and did not have anyone to chase down on the run. She built a small lead early in the run and maintained it to the finish line. Jackie Hering finished just 38 seconds behind her in 2nd place. Asked if she thought she could pull of two wins in two weekends, Pallant-Browne said, “Looking at the fields, all the fields are so deep and tough at the moment, obviously it’s always the goal but I knew it would be really tough…happy I could dig deep and finish it off.” She called today’s race “really tactical, which is unusual in women’s racing.” She felt the fatigue of her last race in the latter stages of today’s race and could feel herself slowing down. She left enough in reserve to pull off the double victory.

Men’s Race:

70.3 Chattanooga begins with a 1.4 mile swim instead of the traditional 1.2 mile distance since it is down-river. South Africa’s Nicholas Quenet took out the race hard and was able to gap the entire field. He came out of the water first in 22:43, with his chasers more than 1:00 behind him. Justin Riele, Antony Costes, Cody Beals, Miguel Mattox, Jackson Laundy, and Matt Hanson, were all in the chase back. Colin Szuch was a little further back. Trevor Foley, making his return to racing after a hit and run incident derailed his early spring plans, came out of the water a little more than 3:00 off of the pace.

The 70.3 Chattanooga bike course is pretty fast for IRONMAN standards, with just over 2,000 feet of elevation gain. The first and last 10 miles are flat and then there are some rolling hills in the middle of the bike as you cross state lines and ride through the Georgia countryside. Quenet rode solo for a good portion of the ride. He was eventually reeled in by Foley, Costes, Riele, and Laundry. That group of five would come into T2 together. Foley split 1:58:00. Costes was the quickest in transition and got onto the run course first, followed by Riele, Quenet, Laundry, and Foley. Riele was the first casualty of the run. Quenet took over the lead, with Laundry, Costes, and Foley in tow. That order would hold through the halfway point but Hanson was starting to make some real progress to the front of the race. After coming off of the bike 4:30 behind the leaders, he was quickly gaining ground and it looked like a late race pass could be possible. With less than 8:00 of running left in the race, Hanson charged by Quenet and took the lead. He would extend his lead from there and go on to take the win. Quenet got everything he could out of himself today and had to drop out of the race with one mile to go. Laundry ended up in 2nd. Foley moved up for 3rd. It was heartbreaking to see Quenet zip up his triathlon suit, making sure that his sponsors were visible and knowing that not zipping it up could result in a disqualification, before he thought he was going to make his late push to the finish line. Hanson passed him a few moments later. With the win, Hanson now takes over the lead in the IRONMAN Pro Series.

Women’s Race:

Jodie Stimpson (24:56), Grace Alexander, and Sarah True led out the women’s race. They were able to gap their strongest challengers by more than 2:00. Jackie Hering, Lisa Becharus, Alice Alberts, Emma Pallant-Browne, were all together in the chase pack. Danielle Lewis was another 2:00 behind the chase pack. The leading trio stayed together through the early miles of the bike. Pallant-Browne, Hering, and Becharus emerged from the chase pack and began to bridge up to the front of the race. Becharus recently won the St. Anthony’s Triathlon at the end of April and split a ridiculous 56:15 for the 40k bike. Pallant-Browne won 70.3 Mallorca last weekend in convincing fashion, after running down German star Laura Philipp.

Hering, Becharus, Alexander, Pallant-Browne, Stimpson, and True would all come into T2 together. The group was content to find out who had the strongest run legs. Lewis split a 2:15:58 on the bike to come into T2 just 44 seconds back. Alberts was another 2:00 behind her. It was Pallant-Browne who controlled the run early on. Lewis moved into 3rd at the 5k mark. By halfway, Pallant-Browne would lead Hering by close to 1:00. True moved into 3rd past Lewis, who might have burned some early matches. Hering began to chip away at Pallant-Browne’s lead during the second lap of the run. She was never able to get within 30 seconds, as Pallant-Browne used her 1:18:43 run split to take her second 70.3 victory in two weeks. Hering finished in a strong 2nd place. True was 3rd. It was impressive to watch Pallant-Browne’s reserve in the closing miles. Hopefully she has some easier training days coming up.

Quick Take #1: Matt Hanson is back. Hanson now leads the IRONMAN Pro Series over Patrick Lange. He had said before this race that his goal was to knock his Oceanside result off of his scoring races. That should happen now, as he just bagged full points from this race. After some difficult races in 2023, it looks like his form is more in line with where it was in 2022. After taking 7th at IRONMAN Texas, and winning this race, he has cemented himself as a Pro Series contender.

Quick Take #2: How good is Emma Pallant-Browne? 2 70.3 wins in 8 days. 1:17:00 and 1:18:43 run splits at two races that got pretty warm by the end of them. Let’s see how she can carry this momentum into the rest of her season.

Quick Take #3: It’s great to see Trevor Foley racing again. He was struck by a driver this spring and had to cancel his early season racing plans. As someone who likes to race what feels like almost every other weekend, it could not have been easy for him to watch the early season races come and go. This is a race he absolutely could have won with full fitness. He has not been able to run normal volume and will certainly improve as he gets his legs back under him.

Quick Take #4: Beer Mile World Record Holder (4:28, 3:57 open mile) Corey Bellemore competed in the Age Group race and finished 6th overall. 26:52 swim/2:22:08 bike/1:16:07 run. That should be strong enough to earn him a Canadian pro license if he wants one.

Photos: Patrick McDermott/IRONMAN