The controversy surrounding Sam Long’s penalty at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships in St George, Utah has been one of the most talked about incidents of the year. Everyone, from spectators to pros, weighed in on the perceived injustice Long suffered at the hands of IRONMAN and their officials.
Ultimately, the American dealt with the situation remarkably, as he quickly set his sights on IRONMAN Arizona, in what was billed as his “race for redemption”. Unfortunately for Long, the race “didn’t quite pan out how I wanted” in Arizona, as he shared in his most recent YouTube video.
Bike struggles hinder hopes
After a good swim by the “Big Unit”, the bike didn’t quite go to plan for Long, as by his own admission the initial miles after T1 was where “the race quickly started to go south”. Long shared that, “within the first eight miles I started to have back issues” which resulted in him “spending a lot of time out of the saddle early in the race, which you just can’t do on this course”.
After pushing through the pain on the bike, Long felt like he was in a good position, sitting in 4th, having “not overbiked”, but quickly started struggling on the run, having at one point to stop at an aid station to attempt to stretch out.
“I could barely run” admitted the American, stating that at the aid station, “I was at a nine out of ten pain level. Whilst I felt energetically and muscularly good, you’re only as strong as your weakest link,” and after cramping up immediately when taking onboard any nutrition, accepted that “the last twelve miles was going to turn into something of a death march”.
Admirably, Long soldiered on to finish the race, but ended up way down the field, as he missed out on a Kona slot for the 2023 IRONMAN World Championships. The full distance is still yet to be conquered by Long, who looks likely to once again bypass the distance in 2023 to focus on the more lucrative middle distance events.
Solving the IRONMAN puzzle
In his video, Long didn’t want to just gloss over another poor IRONMAN performance, and after three bad long distance races in a row, admits that there are issues that need to be addressed.
“I’ve got some major overhauling work to do to figure out the IRONMAN distance”. The biggest question of all seems to be his training, as Long observes that “looking at my training, you’d expect me to overpeform at the IRONMAN distance and not at the 70.3 races”. However, things have if anything been the opposite, with Long certainly more competitive at the middle distance races.
To close, Long maturely remarks that “we are all on our own path in life”, and encouraged anyone watching to take that into account. The American, still just 26 years old, has plenty of time to rediscover his form of old, but will hope he can end a tough year in style next weekend at IRONMAN 70.3 Indian Wells.