Two-time Ironman 70.3 world champion Gustav Iden made his full-distance debut at Ironman Florida today with a huge win, running away from a tiring Lionel Sanders over the last 15 km of the marathon to take the win.
The day began with a tough swim that saw the lead men take over 28 minutes to finish the first 1.9 km of swimming – a lead group of eight were led by Brazil’s Luis Ohde. Things only got slower for the second loop of the swim as Sweden’s Robert Kallin led out of the water with American Justin Metzler four seconds back, Iden at nine seconds, Ohde at 11 seconds, Australian Cameron Wurf at 12 seconds and Canada’s Lionel Sanders 18-seconds back in sixth.
Out on the bike it didn’t take long before Sanders would move to the front, with Wurf right behind and Iden marking their moves. Kallin appeared to be coming along for the ride, but then surprised everyone with a strong move over the tail end of the bike ride to hit T1 with a minute lead over the other three. An extremely slow transition saw Iden lead the way out of T2, with Sanders and Kallin on his heels, while France’s Arnaud Giulloux managed to stay in the mix, too, starting the run 37 seconds back. (Wurf would drop out after the bike – it was reported that he’d been feeling under the weather for most of the bike.)
Out on the run the race quickly became the Sanders/ Iden show, with the Norwegian marking the Canadian’s moves, seemingly biding his time as he worked his way through his first full-distance effort. Things changed dramatically, though, at 27 km as Sanders suddenly dropped off the pace, leaving Iden to run himself clear and start pushing towards the finish line.
Which he did in impressive style. The Olympian showed his foot speed with a blazing-fast 2:34:51 marathon and a 7:42:57 finish, breaking Joe Skipper’s course record. Sanders would hang on for second, running a 2:40:43 marathon to finish in 7:48:50.
“I wasn’t sure I would get to the finish line,” Iden said after the race. “I was hoping for Lionel to go past me or drop off, because I couldn’t imagine having to deal with that fight all the way to the line. It was a good first try – I have some things to work on, so hopefully I can improve my time in the future.”