Triathlon fans have been keeping track of the back-and-forth comments between Lionel Sanders and Sam Long all week, and the
“I’m relentless baby,” Long said after his record-setting performance that saw him break the course record despite the steaming-hot conditions that saw temperatures hit almost 30 degrees C. “At my last race in Tulsa I kind of got an ass-whooping, so I was hungry.”
Group forms on the bike
Balazs Csoke (HUN) led the men out of the water, finishing the swim in 49:43, with a group that contained many of the lead contenders including Sanders and his countryman Cody Beals, along with Pedro Gomes (POR) and Justin Metzler (USA) hitting T1 2:30 behind. Long was another two minutes down heading onto the bike.
Csoke stayed in front through the first 30 km of the bike, before a group of five – Beals, Sanders, Gomes, Metzler and Australian Tim Rea – moved to the front. That group was joined by Long shortly afterwards. Towards the end of the first of two loops on the bike Long pushed the pace and, along with Sanders, opened up a gap on the rest of the men in the group. Long got a flat, but the sealant in his rear tire did the trick and he was able to keep pace with Sanders as the two rode clear.
Run turns into battle of attrition
Towards the end of the bike ride Long pulled away from Sanders, hitting T2 1:31 ahead of the Canadian and eight minutes up on Metzler, with Gomes another two minutes behind. Out on the run course Sanders appeared to be pacing things perfectly, gradually gaining time on Long and catching up to the man he outsprinted at the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship in St. George, Utah earlier this year. Sanders wouldn’t get passed Long, though, and through the half-way point of the marathon had lost time and was almost two-minutes back through 21.4 km. Things went south for Sanders from that point onwards, and he was eventually seen throwing up on the side of the road as he struggled to continue through the race.
Long did struggle in the heat, but was still more than strong enough to run his way to a course-record performance, running a 2:51:13 and finishing in 8:07:40. Metzler would run his way to second thanks to a 2:47 marathon split, crossing the line in 8:13:03, with Gomes rounding out the podium in 8:17:06. Fourth, and the final of three Kona qualifying spots (Long had already qualified) went to Canadian Jason Pohl (8:20:57), with Matt Russell (USA) taking fifth in 8:24:54.