It took a near-record run to beat Canadian and former varsity runner Lionel Sanders at the 2017 Ironman World Championship.
The 29-year-old had the lead in the marathon but was passed in the closing kilometres by German Patrick Lange who went on to win in course-record time and a near-record 42.2K run. Sanders, who resides in Windsor, Ont., and formerly ran for McMaster University out of Hamilton, finished in 8:04:07, 11 seconds off the previous course record. Lange finished in 8:01:39 and closed out the 3.86K-swim, 180K-bike and marathon in 2:39:59. (He ran 2:39:45 for the marathon, a course record, in 2016.)
Sanders completed the marathon in 2:51:53. (To give you a sense of Sanders’ running talent, he ran 1:36:54, 3:11 per K pace, at the Around the Bay 30K in 2013.) The annual Ironman World Championship is held in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
The race went almost exactly to plan for the native of Harrow, Ont. And, for most of the race, it looked like he would be crowned champion on the Big Island.
He had a personal best time on the Kona swim course in 53:11 leaving a gap of only 6:31 to the leaders. Sanders then launched himself into contention with 4:14:19 bike split. That would’ve been a new bike record had Australian Cameron Wurf not also eclipsed the previous mark with his 4:12:54 clocking. For most of the marathon, it looked like Sanders would keep up his consistent pace all the way to the line on Ali’i Drive. But it was not to be as Lange narrowed the gap between the two with his trademark marathon performance and ultimately took the lead. Lange’s final mile (1.6K) split was a reported 5:37.
It was the third appearance from Sanders at the Ironman World Championship.
With files from Triathlon Magazine Canada.