Lionel Sanders is now in Kona for his final preparations heading into the Ironman World Championship, but before he left for the Big Island he tuned up for the big day at Ironman 70.3 Augusta.
For much of this year Sanders was dealing with a hip injury that kept him from competing. He returned to racing with a solid day in Mont-Tremblant, where he set a new bike course record on his way to a runner-up finish behind defending champion Cody Beals.
After trailing out of the water by about two minutes after “not making the front pack,” Sanders chased the lead group that included Weiss and German Nils Frommhold, pushing 362 watts for 56 minutes until he had joined the leaders at the front of the race.
After being unable to run for so long, Sanders said in a post-race video posted on his YouTube channel that he hadn’t done much speedwork leading into the race and was in a “defensive mode” for much of the run as he ran alongside Weiss. Then, at the nine mile point of the race, Weiss dropped off and Sanders pushed through to the finish line to take the win.
“It was a great speed session for me to have done,” Sanders said in his race recap. “I was really happy with the decision to do this. I couldn’t have raced it any better. Given the conditions, I don’t think I could have felt any better. So we now have a new training deposit and we have begun the heat prep.”
“I am coming in (to Kona) pretty fresh because I haven’t over trained myself like in previous years … I’m not in the best shape, but it’s not about fitness – there’s a lot more depth to an Ironman than just pure fitness,” he continued.
Sanders finished the run in 1:12:30, a time that bodes well for his race in Kona, too, hitting the line with a total time of 3:42:19. Weiss finished second, 1:43 behind, with Brazil’s Andre Lopes rounding out the podium 5:36 behind Sanders.
Chelsea Sodaro took the women’s race in Augusta in a time of 4:07:36, almost five minutes ahead of fellow American Sarah Piampiano, while Lauren Barnett made it an all USA podium, 11:10 behind Sodaro.
Canadian Tamara Jewett took fourth in 4:19:00, just 14 seconds behind Barnett, while Erin Snelgrove added another Canadian name to the top-10 pro list with her 4:45:58 finish.