Lionel Sanders takes his first world championship

Thrilling the Canadian crowd, Lionel Sanders took the ITU Long Distance World Championship despite a flat and having to overcome a huge deficit on the run. His post-race interview.

| August 28, 2017 | PERSONALITY

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

How did you manage to make up a deficit of more than seven minutes on the run?

I was running off of pure anger, and you can do a lot of things when you’re pissed off. I knew I was going to have to have the run of my life. I’ve only done a 30 km once in my life in a pure format and I think I ran 1:36 for 30 km fresh. I think I ran 1:45 after a 120 km bike, so I think that was close to one of the best runs I’ve ever done.

How does it feel to be world champion?

It hasn’t set in yet, but I’ve been dreaming of this for nearly eight years now, as long as I’ve been in triathlon, so I think its going to feel amazing once I get to reflect on it. I worked real hard for this. I feel like I’ve paid my dues now. This particular one was the hardest I’ve ever done as well, as it should be.

What was it like out on the course?

It was a pretty good swim – it was a calm swim. I got lucky that it was a wetsuit swim – I was certainly banking on it being a non-wetsuit swim. It got a bit congested on the second loop (of the bike), but its that way for everybody. That flat tire really got into my head. It’s a testament to staying focussed … actually Kevin (Mackinnon, editor in chief) and I had a talk two days ago about bringing a flat kit. I’m damn lucky I brought a flat kit and two CO2 (cartridges) as well – the first CO2 I let the air out without putting the air in … Triathlon is the gift that keeps on giving. You continue to learn lessons no matter how well or how bad you do – you always keep learning. The crowd support on the run was fantastic. It felt like it was in my hometown.

What part of the course did you get past Amberger?

23 km. And then I made a pact with myself to keep the pace nice and rich through 28 km, then you can tone it down a little bit if you have a decent lead. At 28 km I had about a minute and a half lead, so I was able to not kill myself for the final two km.

So now you’re living proof that you can fix a flat and still win a world championship.

Not by much! I was on a technical descent when it blew up and I was a little freaked out, to be honest with you. It took me a little while to regain my composure. I thought maybe I was going to go down. Then I was pretty gun shy on the rest of the descents because I didn’t check the tire for debris or anything.

Do you feel like you made the right call coming to Penticton rather than Chattanooga?

Absolutely. I think to be in really good Ironman and really good 70.3 shape is really tough. And, quite frankly, I think that one is going to suffer at the expense of the other. I know I’m moving in the right direction to be in good Ironman shape now – I think this is proof.  The goal is Kona. I think I’m at that point in my career now where the goal from now on is going to be Kona every year from now on. I’m happy with this decision.