by Jay Prasuhn June 21, 2022

Badge of honor? Cross to bear? However you look at it, Matt Hanson has long been pegged a run specialist; someone who runs up onto the podium of races. A decent swimmer, decent biker, awesome runner. Which—for years—has been fine with Hanson because the end game is to get onto the podium.

But something different happened in June with the Ironman North American Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Hanson flipped the script: after a solid swim, he shocked everyone by earning the day’s fastest bike split, a move that, paired with a solid run on a hot—dare we say Kona-esque—day, cemented a remarkable victory in an unexpected way. And it was a win that put Hanson squarely on the map of triathlon pundits as not just a top 10 favorite, not just a podium hopeful, but more. It’s not hyperbole: Hanson stands a better-than-ever chance to win the big dance.

“I had a couple questions from the other athletes that were, basically, ‘where’d that come from?’” Hanson said. “I went to Des Moines to test things with Kona. And those goals have never wavered; winning that race is my No. 1 priority.”

Hanson made the trip to Iowa a late addition to his already busy race schedule. For starters, it wasn’t just another Ironman, with the event holding North American Champion honors—a nice feather in a winner’s cap. That alone would draw a solid field of Americans. Plus, he lived in Des Moines for quite some time as Assistant Professor of Exercise Science and athletic trainer at Buena Vista University, which would provide some home-court advantage.

“There were just so many draws to going there,” he said. “My wife and sister were racing it. My wife’s family was there, and I had a ton of alumni from the BV days out there cheering for me.”

After a 2.4-mile swim he was content with, he was able to make up a massive 45-second deficit after the long run from the swim to T1. From there, it was a tactic he would employ in Kona: to push all chips in to make the lead group.

“The plan was if I came into T1 in two minutes or less deficit to the lead group, I would commit for the first 90 minutes to bridging up,” he says. “So I rode pretty hard. I mean, I would have been happy if that was my 70.3 power for those first 90 minutes! “

He indeed did make it to the front of the race, where he then mixed in with the collective, which included noted Kona breakaway artist, Tim O’Donnell. “I passed Tim and he said ‘hey, let’s make it a four-person race,’” Hanson said. “I was into that; I wanted to test that if I was in a group, that I could ride the run out of other people’s legs just the same.”

The quartet hit the gas at mile 80 making it a three-man group. Hanson put in another concerted dig at Mile 103 on a climb to get away solo, where he’d roll into run transition for the second time ever in his career (his previous fastest bike split happened at an Ironman 70.3 race years ago), racking his V-PR in an empty pro rack, and he set off on the run, building up to a seven-minute lead that he would protect through the entire marathon.

“You never know what your run legs are going to be like after a bike like that, but I felt good.” Across the finish, he raised the finish tape, and proceeded to collapse, every ounce of energy spent. And for Hanson, racing in conditions with a 100 degree F heat index, it was a successful Kona test.

“It really showed my hydration plan is paying off. In Kona I’ve lost up to 20 pounds of water weight, and I didn’t lose any weight that weekend. I gained confidence addressing the heat, and it’s moving in the right direction.

Most importantly, he’s put his fellow pros on notice: he’s going to be a factor.

“You always learn a bit with each race, but this one… there’s something different. I went to Des Moines to learn for Kona and improve my chances. This race was a huge learning experience and a big move in the right direction. I tried some things, tested some things, and it all worked out. And that’s a huge confidence-builder."

In October, the test moves to Kona... Ali’I Drive, the Queen K. And for Hanson, hopefully to a podium with a Haku lei crown and the biggest title in endurance multisport.

Jay Prasuhn
Jay Prasuhn



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    58.5

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On the border of two sizes?
The right size may depend on certain body measurements and your riding style. Feel free to contact us at any time regarding sizing questions - our product specialists are experienced with finding riders the right fit by cross-referencing your information with our QR Rider Fit database.
Measure for Maximum Performance
If you're not transferring measurements from a similar triathlon specific bike, to get completely "dialed in" for maximum performance, we recommend you see a reputable professional bike fitter that can fit you to your new Quintana Roo.

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On the border of two sizes?
The right size may depend on certain body measurements and your riding style. Feel free to contact us at any time regarding sizing questions - our product specialists are experienced with finding riders the right fit by cross-referencing your information with our QR Rider Fit database.
Measure for Maximum Performance
If you're not transferring measurements from a similar triathlon specific bike, to get completely "dialed in" for maximum performance, we recommend you see a reputable professional bike fitter that can fit you to your new Quintana Roo.
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