Lionel Sanders saw the future in Florida last Saturday, and now he wants another piece of it at St George in May 2022.
The 33-year-old Canadian ran side-by-side for 17 miles with Norwegian prodigy Gustav Iden at IRONMAN Florida, before the two-time 70.3 king surged clear to win on his debut at the full distance.
Sanders put in a highly creditable performance – including what he terms as a lifetime best swim – to claim second spot.
A few days later, he was able to fully reflect on the end of a gruelling IM campaign, and a “whirlwind” month which took in that late cancellation in Sacramento and then the move on to Florida.
Sanders on IM Florida
Speaking in a post-race video on his YouTube channel, he admitted: “I’m pretty beat up, I’m not gonna lie.
“It was a whirlwind and I can feel it, but we got everything we wanted out of it, for certain.”
Iden’s winning time of 7:42:57 – including that astonishing 2:34:51 marathon – was hugely impressive. There are reasons for believing that in truth it was even better than that.
“The swim was probably a solid 10 minutes slower than it should have,” reasoned Sanders.
“The bike was a little bit longer than 180k. If you crush the numbers on that Gustav would have debuted on an accurately-measured Ironman course at in and around seven-and-a-half hours. That’s a debut.
“So this guy’s legit – he is the future of long distance. He is certainly gonna push the limits of human capacity. I got to see that first-hand – I know what it’s gonna take to contend against him.”
Ready to go back to work
As Sanders had said immediately post-race, he had wanted to be here to get the experience of racing Iden in his first try at Ironman competition. He may not have won, but he did come away with the learning he wanted.
“I had achieved my goal, I went as hard as I could and I blew up, and that’s okay. I got to race side-by-side for 17 miles with who I consider to be the future certainly of long-distance triathlon.
“So I have no regrets, how I raced, that I did the race, nothing. It was a great experience and I am absolutely fired up to go back to work and continue to hone all aspects of my game, continue to train better and better and better, more scientifically – and contend for longer than 17 miles on the run at St George in 2022.”