Victory extends Sanders’ unbeaten streak to four in 2016
ST. GEORGE, UTAH—The Canadian anthem was heard in both the men’s and women’s races as Lionel Sanders and Heather Wurtele hopped onto the top step of the podium at the Ironman 70.3 North American Pro Championships in St. George, Utah on Saturday.
It was the fourth consecutive long distance victory in as many starts for Sanders, of Windsor, Ont., and the second for Wurtele who hails from Kelowna, B.C.
The 28-year-old Sanders has been the man to beat in 2016, handily winning each of his first three starts. He did it again on Saturday with sub-four hour race as Utah’s breathtaking vistas of red rock canyons served as the backdrop.
Sanders had a solid 1.2. mile swim in the Sand Hollow Reservoir. He climbed to the front of the pack for what is recognized as the most difficult bike and run courses in the world.
Sanders handled the punishing 56-mile bike loaded with steep climbs and fast descents, before storming to the finish line on the 13.1 mile run, clocking a golden time of 3:48.18.
Germany’s Sebastien Kienle was the next fastest athlete to cross the line, finishing just under three minutes behind Sanders at 3:51.10 for the silver medal. Australia’s Joe Gambles outduelled American Kevin Collington in the race for the bronze. Gambles clocked-in at 3:54.40.
Victoria’s Brent McMahon locked up the final spot in the top-five with a time of 3:54.46.
Meanwhile, Wurtele also began a golden streak of her own, winning her second straight start in 2016 in women’s action with a time of 4:16.48.
The 36 year old Wurtele won the ultimate physical and mental challenge in a hard-fought battle between Holly Lawrence and Merideth Kessler.
When the dust finally settled, Lawrence of Great Britain, was not able to take down the Canuck in an all-out battle to the finish, and was forced to settle for second spot at 4:18.04, while Kessler of the United States, celebrated a bronze-medal performance with a time of 4:22.02.
Montreal’s Magali Tisseyre finished just off the women’s podium in fourth at 4:24.30.
Top-Five Men’s Results:
1. Lionel Sanders, Windsor, Ont., CAN, 3:48.18; 2. Sebastien Kienle, GER, 3:51.10; 3. Joe Gambles, AUS, 3:53.26; 4. Kevin Collington, USA, 3:54.40; 5. Brent McMahon, Victoria, CAN, 3:54.46.
Top-Five Women’s Results:
1. Heather Wurtele, Kelowna, B.C., CAN, 4:16.48; 2. Holly Lawrence, GBR, 4:18.04; 3. Merideth Kessler, USA, 4:22.02; 4. Magali Tisseyre, Montreal, CAN, 4:24.30; 5. Ellie Salthouse, AUS, 4:26.52