Canada’s Lionel Sanders went into Ironman 70.3 Texas as the prohibitive favourite, and lived up to that billing in style today with a dominating run performance that saw him stay well clear of the rest of the competition.
Last month at Challenge Miami Sanders trailed the swim leaders by 2:10 and lost more time to Jan Frodeno through the bike and run, but still managed a solid runner-up finish, proving he was very much the best of the rest. Without Frodeno in the field today Sanders was the man to beat, but try as they might, the rest of the field were no match for the Windsor, Ont. native.
After trailing swim leader Ben Kanute by 1:37, Sanders made quick work of moving through the field – by the halfway point he was leading the chase pack that was 49 seconds behind the American Olympian. By the end of the bike there was a group of six at the front, with Kanute trailing the bunch that was led by American Sam Long. Behind Long were Sanders, Germany’s Andi Dreitz and Marcus Herbst and Great Britain’s Joe Skipper.
Once out on the run Sanders made a quick move to the front and Long was the only man who could stay in touch. Last year Long and Sanders had some spirited Strava KOM battles up Mt. Lemmon, but when it comes to running, Long isn’t nearly as competitive. The American hung on gamely for as long as he could, though, keeping the gap around 30 seconds for the first 16 km of the half-marathon, but the Canadian kept the pressure up and steadily pulled clear to take the win in 3:42:20.
Kanute made a spirited charge over the last few kilometres of the run to keep the race for second interesting, eventually outsprinting Long for the runner-up position, finishing exactly a minute behind Sanders (3:43:21) with Long another five-seconds back (3:43:26).
After losing time on the bike Jackson Laundry had a great 70-minute run split to work his way to 10th (3:53:52).
Moench runs her way to second
There were no surprises in the women’s swim as Lauren Brandon led the way out of the water well ahead of the rest of the field – American Rachel Olson and Brazil’s Pamella Oliveira were second and third 41 seconds back.
On the bike, though, Great Britain’s Kimberly Morrison quickly put her stamp on the race, opening up a gap of almost two minutes over the ageless Dede Griesbauer (USA) and 2:28 on her countrywoman Skye Moench, the defending Ironman European champ.
Out on the run course it didn’t take long for Moench to make it abundantly clear that she would be the woman to beat and by the halfway point of the half-marathon she was in the lead. She never looked back, taking the win in 4:10:01. Defending champion Jeanni Metzler (nee Seymour) used an impressive 1:15:27 run split to work her way to second (4:11:18), with Sophie Watts rounding out the podium (4:13:00).
Heather Jackson made up for a rough swim with a solid bike and run to finish fourth, with Morrison taking fifth.