The Ironman 70.3 Pan American Pro Championship took place yesterday in Panama and Lionel Sanders claimed the win on the men’s side in a fast time of 3:38:52. Along with Jeff Symonds and Kirsty Jahn, he was one of three Canadians racing. Symonds and Jahn both placed fourth in their respective fields.
Sanders emerged out of the water behind the leaders, not known for being one of the top swimmers. He powered his way to the chase group on the bike. France’s Antony Coates led the entire bike leg, but Sanders was able to move into second place just 55 seconds behind him. At just three kilometres, he caught Coates and from there managed to grow his lead over the course of the run. Sanders’ bike split was the fastest of the day and his run split was the second fastest. His win in 3:38:52 was three minutes faster than up-and-comer Coates, who was the runner-up.
On the women’s side, four American women were the first out of the water. Kirsty Jahn was able to overtake Linsey Corbin and Lauren Brandon to finish fourth behind an all-American women’s podium.
Jeff Symonds, who finished fourth in the men’s field, was happy with his placing for the day. “It was a great day down here in Panama. I had a better race than I expected given the how early into the season it is, so I am really happy with where things are at,” he told TMC. “I hit all my goals: get some Kona points, have fun and most importantly, Get Ugly! Check, check and check! The hot and humid conditions made for a tough day out there so congratulations to everyone that made it to the finish line!”
Really happy w 4th today @ironmanpanama today! Stoked about where things are at and where we are headed! 2016 is going to be awesome!
— Jeff Symonds (@JeffreySymonds) January 31, 2016
Symonds added that beginning to work with coach Japser Blake has been great for his training. “Training has been a bit different this year now that (he) has been coaching me and it was great to see the hard work and new approach paying off. I am really excited to build from here and get back on another start line.”
Before the race, Jahn told TMC how racing at Panama would figure into her overall goals in 2016. “I decided to race Ironman 70.3 Panama as I wanted an early season race,” she said. “I ended my 2015 season in September after Ironman Chattanooga, so I had already put in a solid block of training. It will be a good measuring stick to see where I am at and and excellent opportunity to gain experience racing in a competitive international field. The rest of my race season is still TBD, but the focus will be racing 70.3 races and then an end of season Ironman.”
Jahn was happy with her top five finish in 4:12:23, just four minutes behind the overall winner, Sarah Haskins.
Full results here.