A triathlon in a picturesque Ecuador coastal fishing village invites athletes to enjoy pleasant weather, warm ocean temperatures, and fresh fruits. Puerto Lopez hosted the CAMTRI Triathlon American Championship for the first time. Elite athletes from around the world descended on Puerto Lopez to compete.
The week prior to the triathlon, the malecon (oceanfront road) was filled with bicyclists and runners, enjoying their pre-race workouts and learning the course. The weekend was filled with triathlons. Youth athletes competed on Friday, amateurs on Saturday and elites on Sunday. I photographed the Sunday competition.
The women’s triathlon began shortly after dawn with the swim (1.5 Km) and bike (40 Km) legs. At that point, two Brazilian women, Pamella Oliveira and Vittoria Lopes, led the field by a large margin.
|Oliveira and Lopes running out of the transition at 8:47 am (my camera’s clock time) before anyone else entered it
The crowd I stood among all thought Oliveira and Lopes were locks to win. One person said “No one can catch them – they are machines!”
|Sophie Chase is 3 minutes behind coming out of the transition at 8:50 am (my camera’s clock time)
Sophie Chase from the USA heard none of this. She made up more than 3 minutes during the 10 Km run to win the triathlon. Oliveira and Lopes finished second and third.
|USA’s Sophie Chase celebrates her win
The Dirt Road
One of the most common complaints I heard was the first one in USA Coach Jarrod Evans’ tweet that began this post. A long dirt road connected the transition area on the cobblestone malecon and the asphalt bike course. I asked a few athletes for their opinion. They smiled and said it was a unique situation but everyone competed on the same course so it impeded everyone equally.
The Perfect Weather
Everyone I spoke with agreed that the ocean temperature was perfect for swimming. The weather was ideal, with a nice cloud cover for the entire women’s race. The sun emerged just as the men began, beating down on them for much of their race under partly cloudy skies. Temperatures were still comfortable but the intense equatorial sun feels hot quickly, especially when one is unaccustomed to it. Running on cool cobblestone helped keep the runners from getting hotter than if they were on asphalt.
|Ecuadorian Ramón Armando Matute, running 10 Km on the sunny malecon (4 loops of 2.5 Km each)
Ecuadorian on Medal Stand in Men’s Triathlon
The cheering crowd roared a bit louder at the finish line of the men’s race when Ecuadorian Juan Jose Andrade Figueroa finished third behind Brazilian Manoel Messias and Canadian Taylor Forbes.
|Ecuadorian Juan Jose Andrade Figeroa finishes third
Congratulations to all athletes who competed! Your dedication to the sport is impressive. Every one I met was kind, caring and supportive of one another.
See You Again (?)
The athletes I spoke with were happy to compete in a small, quiet town and said they hoped to return. They loved the gridlock-free roads, beautiful area and community support. I hope this race returns to Puerto Lopez in future years. If not, I will watch for these talented athletes in the 2020 Olympics.
Enjoy a few more photos from triathlon day in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador.
|Canadian Dominika Jamnicky (squatting) supporting her teammates
|Brazil’s Manoel Massias wins the men’s race
|USA’s Andrew Roos begins post-race cool down with water on his head
|Watching the medal ceremony
Have you ever competed in a triathlon? (I have not. The closest I have come is a 1/2 marathon.)
Click here to read more about Puerto Lopez.