The first edition of Challenge Puerto Varas in Chile saw another powerful display from ‘The Big Unit’ Sam Long, who took total control on the bike and then never looked troubled.
All seems to be right on track towards his IRONMAN World Championship target on May 7.
There was a different shape to the Pro women’s race, which saw Haley Chura and Laura Siddall started the run just seconds apart.
Home athlete Vicente Trewhela led the way through the water with another strong swim performance, just as he did earlier in the season at 70.3 Pucon. He had Balazs Csoke (HUN), Reinaldo Colucci (BRA) and Brent McMahon (CAN) for company, those the only four men who were able to swim quicker than women’s leader, Haley Chura.
Barely two minutes back however was last week’s impressive winner of CLASH Miami, Long, who had the other standout name, Matt Hanson, just metres behind him as they entered the bike course. Based on last week at least, Long was a very strong favourite to make light of that gap over the next hour.
Once the riders were out on the bike route, it soon became a one man show – with a Yo Yo Yo theme – as Long was in a different league on two wheels. With a full 90km this week, rolling hills and less depth of competition relative to Miami, it just further magnified the different level he is currently on to everyone else in the field.
He breezed to the front of the field and would start the run with a lead of well over five minutes. Behind was large chase group of eight, comprising Fernando Toldi (BRA), Brent McMahon (CAN), Luciano Taccone (ARG), Reinaldo Colluci (BRA), Nicolas Saez (CHI), Jason Pohl (CAN) and Vicente Trewhela (CHI).
Hanson is a brilliant runner, but it would surely take something remarkable from him combined with a meltdown from Long to be a challenger for top spot today.
It was no surprise to see that Hanson was indeed the athlete from the chase group trying to chase down Long. He did make up some time with a 1:10:42 split, but Long was hardly fading and in total control with a 1:12:24 himself. That gave him a four minute winning margin at the finish.
Argentina’s Taccone completed the podium, finishing his day with a solid 1:12:23 half marathon.
Sam said if he could win in Miami, Chile, Oceanside and St George he would “basically have a full season under his belt by May.” The first two have been nicely ticked off.
Exactly as expected, it was Haley Chura (USA) leading the way solo in through the opening 1.9km swim. One of the most consistent athletes in the water, Chura built a lead of almost three minutes over Macarena Salazar (CHI) and Romina Palacio (ARG), who finished third earlier in the season at IRONMAN 70.3 Pucon.
The 30:16 swim time for Chura certainly indicates that the swim was a touch on the long side.
Further back than hoped for – circa six and a half minutes – was Laura Siddall. The Brit excels on dry land, and the rolling terrain should on paper play to her strengths. She would now need to prove it.
Siddall did indeed go to work on the bike, and despite starting with a bigger deficit than I’m sure she would have hoped for pre-race, constantly chipped away at the Chura advantage throughout the 90km. Just a minute back at the dismount line, most of that was reduced with a swift transition, and so they would start the half marathon less than 20 seconds apart and in sight of one another.
A Chura dominating the swim / Siddall dominating the bike was to be expected, and with that head-to-head coming out all but even, the run – where they are statistically far more evenly matched – would be the key.
On that front, it was advantage Haley today who gained a few seconds more over the opening mile, and then continued that trend over the next twelve.
Securing her first Pro win for three years (which was also in South America, at IRONMAN 70.3 Bariloche, Argentina in 2019), Chura closed out her race with a 1:23:35 run split. Her winning margin on Siddall at the finish was almost exactly two minutes, Laura clocking 1:25:23 for her run.
Challenge Puerto Varas Results 2022
Sunday 20th March 2022 – 1.9km / 90km / 21.1km
- 1. Sam Long (USA) – 3:48:48
- 2. Matt Hanson (USA) – 3:52:44
- 3. Luciano Taccone (ARG) – 3:54:42
- 4. Reinaldo Colluci (BRA) – 3:57:15
- 5. Brent McMahon (CAN) – 3:57:29
- 1. Haley Chura (USA) -4:30:29
- 2. Laura Siddall (GBR) – 4:32:28
- 3. Romina Palacio (ARG) – 4:43:44
- 4. Macarena Salazar (CHI) – 5:01:24