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Lionel Sanders: “I’m stepping back from Ironman for a while”

2016 Ironman Arizona
2016 Ironman Arizona

After his Ironman-brand full distance world record at Ironman Arizona that had the whole triathlon world talking last weekend, Lionel Sanders has said he will be stepping back from full distance racing for a bit — meaning, he won’t be racing at Kona in 2017. Here’s interview with his post-race thoughts and plans going forward.

What the world record on your radar going into IMAZ?

I knew I was in good shape from 70.3 Worlds but I just hadn’t put in enough endurance work so I think thats the major reason I had a poor race in Kona. My goal for the five weeks after Kona was to put in some high quality endurance work and thats really all I focused on coming into Arizona. I have certainly been aware of the record and it was in the back of my mind but I knew in order to do it I was going to have to execute the best race of my entire life by far and away.

How did you execute this race differently from full distances in the past?

I’d say the biggest thing I did different is that I truly tried to be as patient as I possibly could. I kept repeating to myself, “An Ironman is a long way.” This approach allowed me to have a lifetime best swim, bike and run.

With this brand record under your belt, do you intend to tackle the standing full distance record set by Frodeno this summer?

I love this sport and I want to be the best so I definitely will venture over to Roth one day. But, there is still a lot of work to do before that day and it wont be any time soon.

You’ve said you are going to forego Kona next year and focus on the 70.3 Why this approach?

This will allow me to focus more on my swim, as well as allow me to continue to push my upper limits as high as they will possibly go on the bike and the run. Down the road when I do specialize in the full Ironman distance, I think this will be a huge asset.

Which race are you looking most forward to on the 2017 calendar?

Definitely the 70.3 World champs in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I will go there with the deepest vengeance in my heart that I have ever had.