2023 turned out to be a huge year for Sam Long, in part because of some impressive racing and in part because he became a dad.The American star also proved that he’s developed an impressive level of maturity, bouncing back from a couple of poor performances early in the season to really shine at his key races.
While Long gave himself a “performance grade” of 85%, he was considerably happier with the “process” component of his season.
“I’m going to give myself an A – 94 out of 100 – process-wise I think I did an incredible job in 2023,” he said in his latest video on his YouTube channel (embedded below). “You need to be able to test and experiment with things to make you better.”
That “testing” included a new coach to start the season, but after disappointing performances at Clash Miami and Ironman 70.3 Oceanside, Long decided to coach himself.
With his partner Lara Gruden due to deliver their son Leo in August, Long chose to focus his season on a series of three races in May and June – the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship in St. George, Ironman 70.3 Gulf Coast and Ironman 70.3 Boulder. He won all three of those races.
Just 48 hours after Leo was born Long travelled to the PTO US Open in Milwaukee, where he finished fifth, then repeated that position at the PTO Asian Open in Singapore. Unfortunately, like many others who competed in Singapore Long got sick after the race and had a tough day at the 70.3 worlds in Lahti. He bounced back with a third-place finish at Ironman Maryland, missing his chance to qualify for Kona next year, and rounded out the season with a third-place finish at Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells.
Missing out on a qualifying spot for the Ironman World Championship next year likely made Long’s decision about his 2024 race season a bit easier. Rather than lose a chunk of time preparing for and then recovering from an Ironman qualifier, it appears that Long is going to focus on shorter races.
“I think I am going to be focussing on the PTO series and doubling down on the 70.3 distance,” he said. “Mostly focussed on PTO.”
With only two races announced so far in the PTO series, Long will actually kick off his 2024 season with an Ironman event – he’ll compete at Ironman 70.3 Pucon this weekend.