There are three M Dot races in South America. I'd guess the least well known of the three is the 70.3 race held in Penha, Brazil in late August. This year approximately 700 athletes raced in this half ironman. This was my first tri outside the US. I cannot have been more pleased on how well the race was organized and how simple it was to come to a completely foreign area and participate in an event in the same way one would go down to Oceanside for a weekend, abeit with a bit longer trip and in a different language. Latin Sports has closely copied the protocol used in Hawaii, complete with separate sex changing tents, multiple volunteers guiding you through every step of transition before and during the race and every detail catered to from registration to the Clearwater roll down to the final awards lunch. The set up feels much more like a full Ironman than a half. There were 13 Americans and a small handful of European and African athletes entered this year. Most of the rest were from the various South American countries, predominantly Brazil. 50 spots to Clearwater were given out. There were very few athletes over 55; less than 20, total, and only a handful of those women. Penha is 90k north of Florianopolis where the full Ironman Brazil is held each May. It's cool in August; 50 at night and 65 during the day. The water was 68. The swim is a mass start, pros and AGs together, from the beach into an absolutely calm bay in the Atlantic used as an anchorage for the local fishing fleet. The bike goes through the small town for a few k with some slight uphill grades then past T2 at Brazil's version of Disneyland, Beto Carrera. This theme park serves as race headquarters, T2 and the finish. Your race entry also includes admission to the park, including all the rides for 4 days! The bike is 6 out and backs on the same road out and into town past fields and jungle. It's flat or false flats and leads to some very fast times. If anything, it's so tempting to put down such a fast bike that many athletes blow up their run later. The run follows the same out and back route, abeit shorter and only twice. The road surface was excellent and clean. The scenery is not particularly special, but this is an exotic locale, none the less. It reminded me of a central Mexican beach town. It's quiet and calm, fairly poor and lacking much in the way of infrastructure or anything beyond basic services. The hotels are numerous but basic. You get to Penha with a 45 minute domestic flight from Sao Paulo to Navegantes, about 16 k south of Penha. It took me 24 hours, total, with layovers to get from LA to Penha. Socially, the whole scene was great. The LA Tri kit got a lot of conversation started; " do you know Claudia, Johnny, Ian, etc." It is completely safe. I never rented a car. We just rode or walked everywhere, day and night. Restaurants are everywhere. Post race parties with Brazilian BBQ and live music. All in all this was a great way to try a foreign venue and it's wetted my appetite for more. Eric Taylor