While the PTO had promoted a tough battle between Sam Long (USA) and Lionel Sanders (CAN) in the days leading up to Ironman Chattanooga, it turned out to be Joe Skipper (GBR) who took off with the golden medal. The day before the race, Skipper already joked in a comment under an Instagram post by the PTO how cool it was that he would get to see the “Long vs. Sanders battle” unfold front row, making it clear that he believed there were more favorites for the win than only these two men. That Sanders also belonged to that group of favorites turned out to be correct: the Canadian ended up in second place (+8:27). Ben Hoffman – who hadn’t put together a strong performance in two years – came back with a strong third place (+11:31).
After 42:14 minutes, Hofmann was first out of the water and into T1. Skipper, Sanders and Long were right together around an eight place. In the first half of the bike discipline, Cody Beals – who got out of the water in third place – took the lead, but after 90 km it were Skipper and Long who were battling in the front. Skipper wouldn’t leave that spot anymore, he took off and managed to create a gap of one minute to Long by the time he entered T2. Sanders racked his bike in third place (+6:27).
Long soon fell short of the podium positions once on the run. Skipper was on fire in front. Nobody was getting anywhere near the Britt. Behind him there was some shuffling in positions, but after the half-marathon, Sanders was running in second place and Hofmann was running in third. Skipper was already leading by nearly nine minutes.
Given the huge gap that Skipper had created, it came as no surprise that the British athlete ended up breaking the tape. Skipper ran the fastest marathon of the day: 2:44:06 hours. Behind him, Sanders settled for silver and Hofmann returned strongly with a nice bronze medal.