The week before this race I had an amazing opportunity to go with my fiancé (thanks to one of her awesome sponsors, Coeur Sports) to Kona for the Ironman World Champs! It was an amazing experience and I was able to get some good training in leading up to the race. Another benefit, besides just being in Hawaii with amazing people, is that Hawaii is on the way to South Korea! This made travel extremely easy, and I was well prepared for the final ITU World Cup of the season.
The weather could not have been better when I got in to the little fishing village of Tongyeong, it was perfect conditions and team USA had strong contingent of athletes that were racing so the energy was positive everywhere. Before the race I had a quick chat with a few guys about a breakaway and basically said we had a few Americans who were on board and committed to a breakaway out of the water. I had imagined a few more guys being there, but the way it worked out the group that got together on the bike was able to get the job done on the day.
I swam pretty hard the first 250m, made sure the main swimmers were all around and then set a fairly high tempo for the first lap. In the second lap Anthony Pujades from France, and Henri Schoeman from South Africa came around and started setting the pace. It was perfect. I got to relax back in the group with the pace staying high in the water. When we exited the water we had a group of five and we charged through T1 and smashed the first 2ks on the bike. We discussed waiting for two men coming up behind us but then realized they weren’t making too much progress so we ended up just starting our “team time trial” there and never looked back.
On the first lap there were multiple groups out on the road with various gaps, but by the start of the second lap there was only a couple groups and the gap was already over a minute. We were all encouraging each other and I was giving the group splits and we all kept pushing. As the bike leg went on the chase groups became the “chase group”. Basically the rest of the athletes were in that second group on the road and they obviously weren’t getting organized. By the end of the ride, our group of 5 athletes had about 2.5 minutes on the chase group. It was the perfect situation as my country mate Ben Kanute helped keep the pace high and would yell “2min? I want more, let’s keep going!” and the pace would stay up.
I had a good position in the front leading into T2 and was the first one out on the run. At about the 2k mark I was joined by Kanute and Schoeman. The three of us ran together for another 2.5k and Kanute ended up falling off the pace a bit. I stayed with Henri for another lap, and felt good, but then around 6-7k I completely blew up. I was thinking “oh no, I just need to keep it together for 4k and I’ll be good for the podium”. I ran by myself, watching Schoeman slowly get further and further in front, and watching the fast runners behind start closing the gap extremely quickly. I got splits from coaches at 4k that said “David Hauss is 80 seconds back” then at 2k the split was “Hauss is 40sec back!” which meant he took 40 seconds out of me in 2k and was 40 seconds back and I only had 2k to go. I dug as deep as I could and when I was at about 500m to go, Kanute had caught back up to me and was running just behind. When we came around the corner to the finish chute, he started his sprint and I tried as hard as I could to go with him but I had zero energy left. I ended up crossing the line in 3rd, still good enough for my first ever World Cup podium!
I’m extremely happy with this result as it is a glimpse of what I am capable of. I’m still not back to full condition after my accident in May, but with the way the end of the season has panned out I couldn’t be happier. Another positive is that the ride was the highest average wattage I’ve ever had in an Olympic distance race, which means I’m still progressing, and getting stronger.
Thanks to Joel Filliol my coach for believing in me through all the ups and downs this season, I could not have gotten to where I am right now without his support. My sponsors, ROKA, NYAC, Brooks, PowerBar, Family Cycling Center, and Santa Cruz Running Company have all been an extremely intricate part of my success this year. Please support them as they have helped me!