Ethan Brown Race Report

By USA Triathlon | April 30, 2009, 12:54 p.m. (ET)

Ethan BrownEthan Brown: ITU Mazatlan Continental Cup Race Report

This past weekend was full of racing – St Anthony’s, the Ishigaki World Cup, and the not-as-popular Mazatlan Continental Cup. I kicked off my season in Mazatlan. Last year at this race I had a disappointing mechanical DNF, so I was looking to start things off on the right foot this time around. Lining up next to me on the start line was some tough competition – my training partner Steve Sexton, fellow American and super-swimmer Brian Fleischmann, Mexican Olympian Francisco Serrano, and other top Mexican ITU athletes.

The swim was two laps in the ocean with some moderate waves to contend with. The start horn blasted and the 25 of us went sprinting into the water. I had a good start and began swimming hard toward the first buoy. I noticed that Luciano Farias of Argentina had a great start and was pulling away fast. I was holding pace with the main field. Slowly I began pulling away as well and was the second man to the first turn buoy, a few meters back from Farias. I held that position for about 100 meters before Brian Fleischmann passed me. I tried to get on his feet but couldn’t – he was flying. He eventually went on to catch Farias and those two came out of the water about 35-40 seconds ahead of me. I completed the rest of the swim in the chase group with Sexton, Leonardo Saucedo, and a couple other Mexican athletes.

The bike course was an 8-lap, out-and-back. It was flat and fast. I had an okay first transition and took off on my Blue Competition Cycles RC8 in pursuit of the swim breakaway. I started working together with Sexton and Saucedo, and we were soon joined by Garza and Serrano of Mexico. We set up the paceline and focused on catching Fleischmann and Farias. It took us two full laps, but we eventually reeled them in. We all continued working together well – pretty much everybody shared the workload and no one really skipped their pulls. We were able to put time on the packs behind us. I was feeling good leading into the run – I had taken a gel and bottle of endurance drink on the bike – but I was nervous at the prospect of how I would fare against the fast Mexican runners in the Mazatlan heat. (I just got over a foot injury and have only had about a month to build my run volume).

I got caught near the back of our pack heading into t2 after a premature attack. I got my shoes on and headed out in 6th place. The run course was 4 laps, and like the bike, it was flat and fast. I slowly moved up into 5th and could see a lead pack of Fleischman, Garza, and Serrano forming. I felt surprisingly good and worked my way up to them by the 1k mark. I ran in this lead pack for another kilometer and then picked up the pace. Toward the end of the first lap, I had taken the lead and opened up a little gap. For the next 2 laps I gradually began pulling away. The lead pack was strung out as Serrano, Garza, and then Flash fell off the pace. I had a 15-second lead over Serrano going into the final lap. The Mexican spectators were going crazy for Serrano, rooting loudly for him to catch me – some were even yelling for me to slow down. I couldn’t help but crack a smile at that. I thought I had it. I didn’t think Serrano could make up 15 seconds in 2.5k. I continued running strong, but at the final turnaround I was astounded to see Serrano right behind me – he had made up the whole difference in just over 1.25k! He flew by me. I tried to pick it up but had nothing left in the tank. I kept my form together and hoped that things would stay close enough so that I might be able to outsprint him if it was semi-close. But he continued to pull away. Serrano got me by 9 seconds in front of an ecstatic home crowd.

Despite being so close to the win, I’m satisfied with the way I raced. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my run is coming back quickly. I now have two seconds and two thirds at ITU races – it’s starting to get frustrating. This race just made me that much more motivated to get on top of the podium. All in all, it was a great way to start off the season and it will hopefully set me up for a successful year.

I want to thank my wonderful sponsors for continuing to believe in me and for providing me with the tools to be in contention for the win at every race – Blue Competition Cycles, Fuel Belt, XTERRA Wetsuits, Saucony, Powerbar, Team Psycho, Katalyst Mulitsport, and the USA Triathlon Trade Team. Up next is the ITU Pan-Am Championships – Oklahoma City, Okla., on May 16. Please feel free to stop by my website and say hello –