When Sam Long became a professional triathlete, winning a race in Boulder was his number one goal. Well after Saturday, mission accomplished.
‘The Big Unit’ continued his red-hot summer by following that impressive success at IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene by smashing the course record to win IRONMAN 70.3 Boulder.
The 25-year-old took over from early leader Sam Appleton of Australia during the bike leg and then poured on the power on the run to finish in 3:37:35, more than four minutes quicker than the previous course mark set by Tim Don.
Afterwards Long said this ticked a significant box on his professional triathlon bucket list, explaining: “It’s amazing you know. When I became a professional my number one goal was to win a race in Boulder and I hadn’t done it yet.
Sam Long on special win
“I said this is the opportunity and it’s just amazing to be on the roads I grew up on and see all the people I grew up with, the volunteers I knew from school.
“The home town yeah, there’s nothing like it and I’m lucky to have grown up in Boulder and call this place home. I just want to thank everyone for making Boulder the place it is – it’s the place to be.”
Long’s next big individual test (the Collins Cup of course is a team event) will be the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship at St George in September. He compared this test to that, with one obvious difference.
“It’s at altitude so this race I would say is harder. Swimming at altitude sucks, running at altitude sucks and biking at altitude sucks, so it’ll be good. I’ll do my best, I need to work on my swim a bit, I got six weeks.”
As for that course record, he admitted: “Yeah I knew that, I was going after it, thanks everyone, yo yo yo!”
Appleton couldn’t hold off Long
Appleton meanwhile was pleased with his day overall, but admitted he couldn’t hold the Long charge as he was caught and passed by the American during the bike leg.
“I kinda had a plan to use the swim to my advantage. I tried to put as much time on Sam as I could,” he explained.
“Man I rode really well, I rode 1:58 and I averaged great power and every time check to Sam it was just, he was getting closer and closer and I was like ‘man, there’s nothing I can do’.
“So full credit to Sam he was dishing out the hurt today, I would have liked to have challenged him a little more on the run but it took me a little while to find my legs. Had my legs for a couple of miles and then the legs went again. Then it was kind of a bit of a grovel in this wind to the finish line.
“Yeah I’m happy, it was a solid day and a good kind of launching pad into the next races coming up. Hopefully the Collins Cup if I get selected for the International team and then 70.3 Worlds in St George.
“I was happy with my swim and bike, I know I’ve got a lot of work to do on my run. I can’t run like I did today at 70.3 Worlds, I need to find a little bit of time there. That’s what this race for me, a bit of a launching pad and a test, see what I need to work on for the next six weeks.
“Yeah I guess recover from this and then it’s maybe time to do a little bit more running and speed work to get that run a little bit quicker.”