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“Dispatch” is an online column from Triathlete Editor-at-Large Holly Bennett that will feature pro updates, industry news, happenings afield and otherwise random reports related to multi-sport. Look for “Dispatch” every Thursday on Triathlete.com.
Around the time this column is posted, I’ll be halfway through 24 hours of travel en route to my next adventure. I’m headed for South America to cover an event often touted as “the most beautiful race in the world” – Ironman 70.3 Pucón. Over the years I’ve heard athletes such as Ben Hoffman, Linsey Corbin, Michael and Amanda Lovato and Heather Gollnick rave about the race and the desirable destination of Pucón, Chile, so I’m excited to experience the beauty of the region (and the bounty of Chile’s renowned wines) firsthand. But given that it’s early January and athletes traveling south from colder climes may not be in peak form, I was curious to learn what would inspire a professional from the States to choose Pucón as his season-starter race. Thus I caught up with Boulder-based Ironman champion Hoffman before boarding my flight to learn why he can’t stay away from this Chilean paradise, as well as a few travel tips for any of you planning a race venture abroad.
Triathlete.com: Tell me about your history at the Pucón 70.3 race.
Hoffman: This will be my third time racing in Pucón, the first being in 2008. But my history with South America dates to my college career when I traveled abroad in 2005 and spent six months in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. I hope to keep this one on my schedule for many years to come.
Triathlete.com: Coming from a winter climate, why have you chosen to race in January?
Hoffman: It’s labeled the most beautiful race in the world for a reason, but what I think sets this race apart is the atmosphere that the race team creates. Everyone seems to be enjoying the festivities from start to finish, and it’s at a great time of year to have a “vacation race” without the same pressures of my normal season schedule. As far as the scenery goes, it’s surreal. A smoking, snow-capped volcano sits right above town, the lake is pristine with black sand beaches, and there are numerous thermal baths, waterfalls, rivers and beautiful forests around the area. The people are warm and inviting, and the whole experience is an adventure and opportunity to put my Spanish to use.
Triathlete.com: It’s a long haul to Pucón. What are a few of your best travel tips for triathletes considering an international adventure to ensure a smooth race experience?
Hoffman: Traveling this far is never easy, even when you have done it a few times, but there are a couple things I do to help things run smoothly. Take your own food for the flight, wear compression tights, drink plenty of water and stretch and walk around on the flight when you can. When you arrive, don’t feel like you have to make up for lost time and go hit the training straight off the plane. Respect what you have just put your body through and take it easy for the first day that you arrive. Instead of trying extra hard to adapt immediately to the new time zone, I sleep when I am tired.
Check back to Triathlete.com throughout the next few days for more “Dispatch” columns from Pucón.