Lionel Sanders, a ‘shell’ of his former self, says he is done with Ironman racing

Lionel Sanders reveals his plans for 2023 and beyond.

Staff Reporter
Last updated -

Canadian long-course legend Lionel Sanders has shared his plans for the next 18 months, and ‘No Limits’ is going all in on middle-distance races.

Twice a second-place finisher at the IRONMAN World Championship, most recently last year in St George, Sanders has shared his plans to now solely chase results on the PTO Tour and at Ironman 70.3 races.

Starting with IRONMAN 70.3 Oregon, Sanders is targeting a number of domestic middle distance races, including the PTO Tour US Open in Milwaukee, and will also fly to Finland for the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships.


Lionel Sanders reveals major goals

Reflecting on his career in his most recent YouTube video, the Ontario native said that the short-term goal is to get back to where he once was, and be in a position to compete with the best.

“My goal is to get back on the world stage. My goal is to get back to where I once was and maybe, just maybe, transcend it by 1%. Where was I once? A lot better than I am now. At least on the bike and the run, I’m a better swimmer now than I once was.

“I’ve done some good performances over the middle distance. I won the North American Championships a couple of times, I won the Challenge Championships a couple of times and finished fourth at IRONMAN 70.3 Worlds.”

Despite his past achievements, Sanders is not one to rest on his laurels and gave a frank assessment on his current condition, adding that actions will speak louder than words.

“I just feel like I’m a shell of myself and I’m racing like a shell of myself and I’m not able to do the things I want to do mentally because my body is not there. Talk is cheap, you can sit on these videos and say anything you want, I tell myself this all the time, it’s easy to say you’re going to be world champ but it’s harder to do.

“A lot of guys say they want to be world champ, I’ve said I want to do it, but have I ever really committed like a guy who wants to do it? No I haven’t. Now I would just like to walk the walk because you talk all the f****** time, shut the f*** up, and just walk the walk now.

“I can be competitive, I know I can, because I prove to myself all the time when I go to races underprepared, tired as f***, and I do okay. Now I believe I can get my body there, and if I can put my body together with my mind, I think I can be competitive against this new era of athletes.” 

“I’m not even interested in Ironman anymore”

Going into more detail on the specifics of his future racing plans, Sanders underlined the fact that he wouldn’t be returning to full-distance racing anytime soon, with the focus solely on the middle-distance events.

Collins Cup 2022 Lionel Sanders photo credit Darren Wheeler and PTO
[Photo credit: Darren Wheeler / PTO]

“I’m not even interested in Ironman anymore, I just don’t have any desire to do Ironman. I have no desire to go back to Ironman right now. The training is just so much that I don’t think you can improve in the disciplines, you can just lengthen out what you already are and I just want to keep improving.

“So I’m going to do Oregon, then I’m going to do Milwaukee and then my focus will be 70.3 Worlds and I will make that my peak, what happens after that is up in the air but I would like to go home and do some old school races.

“I haven’t raced in Michigan in a long time, so I’d like to do Michigan 70.3 and then I’d like to finish the season at Augusta 70.3, then take the rest of September and October nice and easy and then get back on the grind for 2024.

“I’ll open the season in Indian Wells for sure, I have a lot of redemption to be done there and then I think next year will be a big year in the PTO so I definitely want to use this as a year to get back up and better and then hopefully I can target those PTO races and 70.3 Worlds in Taupo.” 

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.


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