This week it became clear that Sam Long has fired his coach – Dan Plews who also coaches Chelsea Sodaro, for example. Long has been training on his own schedules and thus without a coach for several weeks. Apparently, the top American athlete can do just fine without a coach, because after winning Ironman 70.3 St. George last week, he just won Ironman 70.3 Gulf Coast as well.
It wasn’t a victory that came easy, because Long had to deal with a number of world-class competitors. This was evident when he came out of the water in thirteenth place and was already four minutes behind the fastest swimmer of the day, Nicholas Quenet (24:31). The moment Long was running towards T1, he was joined by Lionel Sanders and with that, two of the strongest bikers in the pro field were together.
It was no surprise, then, that the two pulled together and soon rode to the front of the field; in doing so, some other men sometimes hooked up but at least as often the pace was too fast for the competitors and thus had to let Long and Sanders go. At least halfway through the bike leg, Quenet rode solo in the lead with a larger group following just under two minutes behind. In addition to Sanders and Long, those included Jackson Laundry, Timothy O’Donnell and Elliot Bach among others.
After about seventy kilometers on the bike, Long fired up the pace and rode away from the chasing group. Not much later he caught up with Quenet and once back in T2 he had laid a wonderful foundation for his later victory. Quenet followed at 15 seconds and then there was a nearly 1:20 minute gap on Sanders and Laundry.
During the run, Long was running quite comfortable to a well-deserved victory, which he took in 3:36:00. Quenet ran strong second, but was disqualified for allegedly missing a few turns and therefore not biking enough. Lionel Sanders (+3:55) finished second and Jackson Laundry (+6:23) finished third as a result.