Who would have thought that Lionel Sanders would run a 2:40 marathon and end up almost six-minutes out of the win? In an unbelievable debut, Gustav Iden ran his way to a huge win at Ironman Florida, denying the Canadian another win in Panama City Beach.
Tough water conditions made for an extremely slow swim in the Gulf of Mexico – through the first of two-loops of the swim Brazil’s Luis Ohde led a group of eight that included Iden, Wurf and Sanders in 28:36. The pace only slowed the second time the men worked their way through the waves and tides to finish up the 3.8 km swim as Sweden’s Robert Kallin led the men up the beautiful white sandy Panama City Beach in 57:59 – on his heels were American Justin Metzler, Iden and Ohde, with Wurf 12 seconds back and Sanders an impressive 18-seconds behind the lead heading to T2.
It was hardly a surprise that Iden would lead everyone out of transition after having competed at the Olympics earlier this year, but it wasn’t long before Sanders and Wurf blasted on by to set the pace on the bike. They were joined by Kallin to create a group of four that would stay together until about 150 km, at which point Kallin made a move to pull clear of the other three.
The Swede would lead the way into T2, opening up a gap of a minute on the other three. Metzler, who had been riding in fifth most of the way, would get sidelined with a mechanical issue and spend over a half hour on the side of the road, which put him out of the picture. Kallin took a long time in transition and it was Iden who led the way out onto the run course, with the Swede and Sanders right behind. Wurf would pull out after the bike – it was reported that he’d been feeling under the weather for much of the bike. The only other man who was in the picture to contend was France’s Arnaud Guilloux, who started the run 37 seconds behind the leaders.
Iden blasts a 2:34 marathon
Through 27 km of the run Sanders and Iden remained together, but suddenly Sanders dropped off the pace, setting Iden on his own to push through the rest of the marathon. The Norwegian looked incredible as he pushed towards the finish line – he would get there after running an incredible 2:34:51 marathon split to take the win in 7:42:57, breaking Joe Skipper’s course record (7:46:28) by over three minutes – an even more impressive achievement considering the day’s slow swim.
Sanders would hang tough, posting a 2:40:43 marathon to finish in 7:48:50. It is the Canadian’s fifth full-distance finish of the year and featured a huge breakthrough swim. Kallin would struggle over the last few miles, but was able to hang on for third in 8:08:13, an impressive debut full-distance effort, too.
You can find full results here.