The return of full-distance racing to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho featured another heat-fest, with temperatures of almost 39 C turning the race into a suffer-fest, especially for pre-race favourite Lionel Sanders, who would struggle to get across the line.
Despite those hot conditions, American Sam Long set a new course record. The big news of the day for Canadians was the performance of Jason Pohl (pictured above), who is Kona-bound after his fourth-place finish.
Group of contenders forms early in the bike
Balazs Csoke (HUN) led the men out of the water, finishing the swim in 49:43, with a group that included many of the pre-race favourites – Justin Metzler (USA), Cody Beals (CAN), Pedro Gomes (POR) and Lionel Sanders (CAN) about 2:30 back, with American Sam Long another two minutes behind.
Once out on the bike Csoke managed to stay out in front for a about 30 km, but eventually a group of five including Metzler, Beals, Sanders, Gomes and Australian Tim Rea reeled in Csoke. They were joined by Long shortly afterwards. Then, coming into the end of the first of two loops on the bike, Long and Sanders surged to the front, leaving the others behind. Long appeared to flat, but the sealant in his rear tire seemed to do the job, and he was able to keep pushing the pace out in front with Sanders. Those two would trade turns at the front, but heading into the end of the ride Long pulled away from Sanders to hit T2 with a lead of 90 seconds.
Run turns into surivival-fest
Long powered out onto the run course, with Sanders appearing to bide his time as he patiently worked his way to the front. By around the 13 km point Sanders had caught up to Long, but never made the pass and eventually Long started to pull away again. Through 21.4 km of the run the gap was up to 1:47 and then things really went south for Sanders, who visibly struggled and was caught on camera throwing up as he tried to stay in the mix.
Long would also visibly slow in the extreme heat that was well over 38 C (102 Fahrenheit), but was able to hang on for the win in a course-record performance in 8:07:40. Metzler, who was third off the bike, moved his way to second (8:13:03) thanks to an impressive 2:47:59 marathon, with Gomes rounding out the podium in 8:17:06. The big news of the day for Canadian fans was the performance of Jason Pohl, who managed to run his way to fourth thanks to the day’s fastest marathon – 2:47:06, which was enough to get him across the line in 8:20:57 and nail a Kona slot. Beals would end up sixth (8:29:59), while Sanders was forced to walk and jog to the finish line, coming across the line over an hour behind Long.
You can find results from today’s race here.