In most parts of the world, we’re familiar with different varieties of triathlon, among them non-drafting and draft-legal. Like east and west, never the two shall meet.

Except this weekend. In Costa Rica. 

Sunday, American Ironman pro Michael Lovato raced and took second at the Triatlon Pinillas. The event was an “111” distance event (1k swim, 100k bike, 10k run), a unique distance with a long 100k bike and short run. Also unique: it was draft legal. With the event held to ITU rules, athletes had to race road bikes. It put him on his back foot.

“Oh, that was.. something!” an exhausted Lovato said afterward. “It’s very bike race-like.  I was looking at my power meter and it was 385 to 440 watts on the front. Then someone would come through it and would go to 220. There’s a lot of that at the beginning of the bike—and I don’t train that way. I train at 320 watts, all day.”

Indeed, the long-course event subscribed to ITU rules. That meant road bikes only, with aerobars extending no farther than the length of the brake levers.

First out of the water at Playa Mansita, Lovato escaped with two Costa Rican athletes—Ernesto Espinosa and Emmanuel Lemma—and the three worked together to stay away from a hungry chase pack—even if the work was a bit imbalanced. “I was just drilling it, doing these huge four or five minute pulls, then they’d come around and do a 30-second pull,” Lovato said. “They were a bit smarter. I told them, come on, we need to stay away from the pack, let’s work.” I guess that showed my inexperience.”

Lovato would lead the two into T2, where both pounced on Lovato, blasting onto the run with a 30-second gap on the American. Lovato was able to reel in one of the two, but experienced leg cramps in the humid 96-degree heat when an athlete collided with him on the run, seizing his right leg. Argentina’s Emmanuel Lemma held off Lovato to take the win in 3:24:39, with Lovato taking second 1:30 back.

In the women’s long-course race, Costa Rican Mauren Solano took the victory in 3:53:43

The second-place result wasn’t bad for a guy who’d been out running around for the better part of a week before the race. In fact, the race was secondary to his main mission in Costa Rica: teach the Ticos (the affectionate term for Costa Ricans) how to race properly, as the centerpiece pro coach for the RaceQuest Camp with Lovato Performance. 

RaceQuest assembled a collection of age groupers, not only catering to their peripheral race needs, but to provide pros Michael and Amanda Lovato to the campers as a source for detailed coaching advice, as campers were given both clinical talks and practical analysis, with both run form suggestions during a group run and swim form video analysis.

With a few days of run clinics before he launched into another session with a collection of rapt Costa Rican and Panamanian age group triathletes, Lovato zipped into a set of Recovery Pump boots.

“I really enjoy working with the athletes here in Costa Rica, and throughout Latin America,” Lovato said. “It definitely helps that I can speak the language, and I know they appreciate that.”

Chacon’s Training Day Win

Olympian Leonardo Chacon represented Costa Rica at last year’s Olympic Games, and took fourth at XTERRA Worlds in Maui last fall. He’s focused again on the ITU World Cup circuit this year, but came down from his altitude camp in the mountains to take on his countrymen at the BMW Series Olympic Distance Triathlon, which was tied into the weekend’s events. 

He warmed up for Sunday’s race by winning the Saturday sprint tri held on the same course. But Sunday, in what would be effectively a glorified (but tough) training day under the tropical sun, he wouldn’t face much competition, winning going away in 1:50:05. It was all prep for the next race on his docket, the ITU WCS event in Kitzbuehl, Austria.

“The last three weeks have been hard training,” Chacon said. “I suffered a lot today, and I’m pretty tired right now. But it’s like that if I want to go well at Kitzbuehl.”

Fellow Costa Rican and young ITU hopeful Alia Cardinale easily took the women’s Olympic-distance race win by nearly 18 minutes, in 2:00:11.

Triathlon Hacienda Pinillas presented by JW Marriott

Sunday, June 9, 2013, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

1k swim, 100k bike, 10k run


  1. Emmanuel Lemma (ARG) 3:24:39
  2. Michael Lovato (USA) 3:26:09
  3. Ernesto Espinoza (CRC) 2:26:32


  1. Mauren Solano (CRC) 3:53:43
  2. Diana Fernandez (CRC) 3:57:16
  3. Georgette Cianca (CRC) 4:00:17

BMW Series Triatlon Hacienda Pinillas

Sunday, June 9, 2013, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run


1. Leonardo Chacon (CRC) 1:50:05

2. Gabrial Zumbado (CRC) 1:52:14

3. Roger Rodriguze (CRC) 1:52:33



1. Alia Cardinale (CRC) 2:00:11

2. Natalia Herrera (CRC) 2:18:25