Inimitable Sam Long prolongs Ironman 70.3 St. George title

Sam Long wins Ironman 70.3 St. George (Archive picture: PTO)

He knew he would be watched by everyone and that everyone wanted to beat him, but Sam Long kept his head cool during Ironman 70.3 St. George and just won the race. For the top American athlete, this meant that he successfully prolonged his title from last year.

It wasn’t a big surprise that Long – who has been in incredibly good shape all season – had lost time during the swim. South African Nicholas Quenet came out of the water first with a time of 22:46 minutes, followed a few seconds later by Magnus Manner and Marc Dubrick. The entire top ten came out of the water within a minute, but that was some minutes before Long exited the water. Trailing by 3:17 minutes, Long started the bike leg in 33rd place, so he had to chase big time.

Just as his deficit in the swim was no surprise, it was no surprise that Long’s chase was immediate and full throttle and so it was no surprise neither that Long immediately started to catch up with men and make up time. After 20 kilometers Long had already moved up to eleventh place and his gap had shrunk to 1:44 minute, halfway through the bike leg he was almost at the front of the race already and after 60 kilometers he was riding in the lead together with Maximilian Sperl. Nevertheless, even Sperl had to let go in the closing stages of the bike leg, because once back in T2, Long went solo in the lead and Sperl was 41 seconds behind the American. Quenet, third at the time, followed at 3:26 minutes.

During the half marathon, things didn’t get particularly exciting anymore; at least not in the battle for victory. Long rapidly increased his lead and at the halfway point he was already more than three minutes ahead of Sperl, while Quenet had slipped to a deficit of almost five minutes.

Consequently, Long’s victory was no longer in jeopardy and he won the race in a time of 3:39:17. Ben Hamilton, who started the half marathon in sixth place, eventually advanced to a second place finish in a time of 3:46:52. The number three on the podium, Antony Costes, also advanced during the half marathon. He started the run fourth, but the Frenchman thus grabbed a podium finish in a time of 3:48:19.