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Lionel Sanders CONFIRMS his next race AND his return to competing at the Ironman triathlon distance

Lionel Sanders confirmed he will return to racing over the Ironman distance next month after his latest success at 70.3 Mont-Tremblant.

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Lionel Sanders confirmed he will return to racing the Ironman distance next month, just under a year after saying he was done with triathlon’s most brutal test of endurance.

Last July ‘No Limits’ said he would be concentrating on middle-distance racing for the foreseeable future, admitting he had no “desire” or “interest” in testing himself over 140.6 miles. He added at the time: “I’m racing like a shell of myself”.

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Sanders Ironman hiatus is over

But on Sunday, after claiming a sixth victory at the iconic race that is IRONMAN 70.3 Mont-Tremblant, the 36-year-old Canadian confirmed that the hiatus is over. And almost two years on from his last Ironman – finishing 34th at the 2022 World Championship in Kona – he is indeed returning to full-distance racing.

After returning from a rib stress fracture to overcome Ben Kanute for the win, he told the IRONMAN broadcast team: “I wanted to get in a race before going to the Ironman so this was nice. I can’t feel my rib now, so I have confidence that I can push myself, and push myself in training. And a month from now, I’m doing IRONMAN Lake Placid (Sunday July 21).”

Sunday’s victory in Mont-Tremblant came in dreadful conditions, with torrential rain and chilly temperatures making for an unpleasant race day experience. Especially for a man who openly admits he hates the cold.

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Brutal conditions for ‘No Limits’

Sanders admitted: “This was one of those days that was absolutely dreadful, walking out the door and being like ‘oh no’. It’s like where you’re hoping to get a flat tyre beforehand for real. And I was like late to the swim because I was like freezing and wet and to the warmup, and trouble getting my wetsuit on. It’s just like a rough, rough day.

“And I hate the cold, I moved to Tucson to avoid this stuff and I thought coming back in the summer would be okay but no, it turns out it’s not. But I mean this is the conditions and so I just tried to do my absolute best and I swam decently well – you know I had a rib injury so maybe not as good as I could have without a rib injury but it’s the best I could prepare for it.

“And then onto the bike I went to work really, really hard and I was worried about Joao Pereira, the ITU guy, and so when I caught that group I did probably my biggest surge of the race to try and drop those guys. And then I bridged across to Justin Riele and Ben Kanute and Matthew Marquardt, and these guys were just crazy strong. I tried a few times to put in surges but it was not happening. It was a real pleasure to ride with those guys, everyone rode really fair.”

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‘Porta Potty, or puke’

Sanders admitted he had to endure some pain on the closing run to complete a victory by just over two minutes from Kanute.

“Then off the bike it was pretty well survival on the run – I was starting to hurt pretty bad at 13k in and I just held on for dear life. I think I overdid the nutrition a bit on the bike and my stomach started to shut down, and it was either like I was gonna have to stop to use the Porta Potty or puke.

“So I was like I have to allow my stomach to settle a little bit and stop eating and like I said, it was survival. I went into survival mode the final 7k. So the terrain is hard, but it was me not running well.”

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
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