Feeling satisfied with a fourth-place finish was “weird” for Matt Hanson at CLASH Daytona, but it was an important step back to elite level for the American star.
Hanson was forced to miss the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in St George in September when he underwent knee surgery.
He made his return to top-level competition in Florida last weekend, finishing behind Kristian Blummenfelt, Magnus Ditlev and Rudy Von Berg in fourth.
Hanson, who had finished second at the PTO 2020 Championship behind Gustav Iden – producing the fastest run of the day in the process (57:22) – would normally have been disappointed with this result. But this is not a normal year.
Daytona a trip into the unknown
Speaking in a video debrief on his YouTube channel, he said: “It’s weird for me to feel satisfied with a fourth-placed finish.
“Training at altitude, but especially on the top-end stuff, it is hard to know exactly where you are at.
“I hadn’t been down at sea level with this build at all, so it was hard to know how everything was going to equate at.
“Plus, I was only 8-9 weeks post-surgery so I just didn’t have the high level of fitness that I would typically have going into a race.
“The big thing is I was healthy, I got to the finishing line without any setbacks and I am able to enter the off-season now on choice without an injury.”
Despite believing he had positioned himself wrongly in the swim, Hanson came out of the water with the ninth fastest time (26:36).
No risks on the run
He finished with a time of 1:44:32 on the bike and performed strongly on the run, finishing with 59:44 – a time bettered only by eventual winner Blummenfelt (58:18). That despite employing a low-risk strategy given he was just returning from injury.
“Overall, on the run it was just about doing what I could do without overextending myself and putting any risk of injury on,” Hanson reflected.
“I really felt good at the 5:25 pace, but I just didn’t have that extra gear that I needed to do when I averaged 5:08 for the entire 11 miles in the race last year.
“I just didn’t have that fitness and I am alright with that, maybe with another month of training I would’ve been able to compete with the boys up front.”
Hanson now hopes to compete at IRONMAN Texas, which takes place in April 2022. He has won that race three times previously.