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Former champion Lionel Sanders explains mindset heading into IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside clash

Lionel Sanders, one of the most successful racers ever at IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside, will return in 2024 with his sights set on a first win since taking back-to-back victories in 2016.

Staff Reporter
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Having won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017, Canadian fan favourite Lionel Sanders will be lining up at IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside this weekend as one of a number of top contenders.

Untested in over six months, with his last race a third place finish at IRONMAN 70.3 Augusta, the 36-year-old has made it his mission to perform in the IRONMAN Pro Series this season.

Up against former foes such as Germany’s Patrick Lange and American Sam Long, the Windsor native shared his pre-race thoughts on YouTube ahead of the clash this Saturday.

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Formative experiences in Oceanside

Reminiscing on past performances in SoCal, Sanders has particularly fond memories of racing there in 2015, when he went up against German giant Jan Frodeno.

“Oceanside 70.3 has been a staple on my calendar for the entirety of my career. I’ve had many formative experiences, many ups and downs, 2015 of course being my highlight.

“In 2015, I had no knowledge of anything, anger deep inside of me, bridging the gap to the front, coming off with Jan [Frodeno] and going toe-to-toe for 5km before getting dropped and blowing up heavy, Andy Potts passing me and I ended up finishing third.

“Formative experience, cruel, cruel experience and in ten years I never got to go toe-to-toe with Frodeno again, that sucked.” 

“I feel exceptionally confident”

Discussing his chances ahead of this weekend, Sanders said that he is confident of success in the season ahead, but admitted that no matter what the result was in Oceanside, his plan would remain unchanged.

IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside 2022: Men's podium - Jackson Laundry, Lionel Sanders, Rudy Von Berg
Photo Credit: Donald Miralle / IRONMAN

“I am working with the best people in the world, so I feel exceptionally confident. Is it going to pan out in Oceanside? Am I going to have a stand out performance? It doesn’t matter.

“I already made the mistake in Oceanside 2018, when I went up against Jan, got my ass handed to me and threw everything out of the window. It’s all good, I’m on the path now. I’m on a good path now and we will stick to it.” 

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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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