Triathlon Magazine Canada
Ironman 70.3 Ecuador
If you like a good race-cation in a beautiful country, Ironman 70.3 Ecuador should be on your list. Traveling to and from Manta (the city that hosts the race) is a bit of a trek from Canada, but taking a few extra days to explore Ecuador really makes it worthwhile.
The shortest journey to the race takes you to Quito, and from there you need to take a separate domestic flight from to Manta, the city that hosts the race. The international flight to Quito is fairly expensive, but once in Ecuador everything is much cheaper. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could do the seven-hour drive from Quito to Manta instead of the domestic flight, too. The drive takes you down from the mountains and through the jungle before hitting the coast. It’s a beautiful drive, though the road conditions are challenging. When driving in South America, the best advice I can offer is to assume that the rules of the road are more like suggestions.
The race course is what you’d expect from a South American event: an ocean swim (typically with fairly calm water), a challenging bike course and a flat run along the water. In South America or Mexico, bike courses tend to be dicey with rough roads, speed bumps, multiple laps and even the potential for stray dog interference. That being said, this is the best bike course of the many I have raced on in Mexico and South America. Rough sections of road are minimal, speed bumps are smooth and manageable, and course congestion is much lower than expected, even though the course includes three laps. There is a lot of climbing (roughly 20 per cent more than you’ll find at our beloved Ironman 70.3
Mont-Tremblant), so you’ll want to build your bike strength to prepare for this race.
The flat run course is a welcome relief after all the hills on the bike, though the humidity does add another challenging element. Temperatures aren’t as high as you’d expect for a race that is right on the equator, with daily highs rarely exceeding the high 20s.
The race day environment is what makes this event memorable. The bike courses passes transition twice per lap with crowds lining that section creating a “Tour de France” atmosphere. The two-lap run (5.25 km out and back twice) is lined with spectators the entire way. It’s much easier to keep pushing through the entire run with all that encouragement.
If you’re going to stay and explore Ecuador, there is lots to see within an hour of the Quito airport. Quito is the capital of Ecuador nestled 2,800 m above sea level – it is the second highest capital city in the world. The mountains surrounding the city are beautiful, with food and culture worth experiencing. Ironman 70.3 Manta has become one of my favourite races, I’ll surely be back.
Canadian professional triathlete Jackson Laundry won the 2021 Ironman 70.3 Ecuador race.