Lionel Sanders was left feeling “a little defeated and frustrated” as he started to search for answers on Sunday night after problems with nutrition ruined his chances of victory at IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene 2021.
The Canadian superstar’s expected duel with American Sam Long appeared to be very much on when the pair were shoulder to shoulder nine miles into the marathon in searing temperatures in Idaho.
Sanders though then began to throw out distress signals, falling back before struggling to get across the finish line during a tortuous end to the race.
Afterwards he spoke to his 211,000 Instagram followers, saying he was “frustrated” by what had happened, but as yet doesn’t have answers.
Sanders Coeur d’Alene prep best ever
He said: “Admittedly today was very frustrating. I prepared I would say some of the best, probably the best IRONMAN preparation I’ve ever done and the most consistent.
“No overtraining, just very good quality, team agreed, I even practised nutrition, everything, and I seem to be struggling with the fourth discipline right now of nutrition and I don’t have answers for whatever reason.
“I got really weak at about six-and-a-half hours and started to lose muscle function and started to cramp up and honestly I spent the final five miles actually wondering if I was gonna be able to finish because I was having trouble walking, and I was having trouble holding my own torso up for whatever reason.
“And so that’s something I am obviously going to continue to stew on and it’s just really really frustrating when you devote your life to something and you do a good job too – I can’t even get mad at myself because I did a really good job to the best of my knowledge and it failed.”
Sanders, well known for his ‘No Limits’ mantra which has endeared him to so many fans around the world, also took time out to hit back at one fan who mocked his struggles on social media.
He said: “For whatever reason, someone showed me a picture of myself walking and someone put the tagline under it ‘Limits’ and all I have to say, I do wanna address that, because it bothers me a little bit. And all I have to say to that person is you truly do not get it.
“You do not get what ‘No Limits’ means. ‘No Limits’ is when literally every thread of your body is screaming ‘drop out, you need to drop out’, and not accepting that and saying finish what you started unless you lose consciousness. That’s the only way you will not finish what you started, and that’s what ‘No Limits’ is, and I did that today and I will continue to do that.
“‘No Limits’ as well is also in my mind, I’m like: ‘I’m damn well retiring from this stuff’ but I’m not actually going to, I’m not gonna listen to that. I am going to fix this, I have it in me, that is nowhere near where my ability is. I’m just not expressing it for whatever reason, and that’s ‘No Limits’ as well – obviously we have biological limitations, this has absolutely nothing to do with what ‘No Limits’ is.”
Long is the future – Lionel Sanders
Once Sanders had dealt with his own struggles, he again showed his class by congratulating victor Long on a dominant win, explaining: “A big congratulations to Sam Long, really great guy, I love Sam.
“Hard worker, nobody deserves that win more than him, soak it in man, this guy is the future and it’s only gonna get better. And also big congrats to Justin Metzler and Pedro Gomes, who both had very good performances as well.”
Lionel also praised the crowds who lined the Coeur d’Alene course, admitting that their support was what enabled him to get over the finish line.
“I just have to give a very sincere thank you to everybody out on course. You were the ones who got me through that. I did not wanna do that but you guys cheering for me, I ran with people, they motivated me, told me stories, it was amazing – I felt the IRONMAN love, I felt the ‘No Limits’ vibe and I wanna thank you guys for that.”