On October 14, 2017, pro-triathlete Lionel Sanders toed the line with the crème de la crème of triathlon. That is, after all, what Kona is all about. Battling for every second in brutal conditions. Wind. Heat. Pressure. They greet every athlete on an unrelenting course that lives up to the hype year after year.
Before this year's showdown, we caught up with Lionel along one of Kona's beaches. His excitement for the coming race was palpable. It's clear that there are few things Lionel enjoys more in this sport than a battle along the course, and with this year's line-up a battle was sure to be had.
During the race Lionel lead the second swim pack, coming out of the water after 53:41 minutes. From there Lionel lined up a deadly bike-run combo that put him across the finish line at 08:04:07.
As triathlon fans have come to expect, Lionel's power meter numbers were jaw-dropping. His normalized power was 313 watts, and he averaged 26.5 MPH over the 112-mile course. It's no wonder he rolled into T2 at 4:14:18, breaking the previous course record.
Lionel Sanders' power file from Ironman World Championships, 2017, as seen in TrainingPeaks.
You can hear Lionel discuss the play-by-play of his performance with Bob Babbitt on the Championship Edition of Breakfasts with Bob. However, we had our own post-race questions for the Kona podium climber.
1. Congratulations on placing 2nd in the world! How are you feeling?
I am feeling more motivated than ever before.I tasted it and I know it can be done. I am excited to do the necessary work to achieve the dream!
2. You told us before the race to expect to see you in that #1 slot in 5 years. After taking #2 a few minutes away from the new course record, are you changing your projection?
I am focused solely on the process. I see a lot of areas to improve on this year's performance.Making those improvements is the most important thing, and the results will take care of themselves.
3. You've mentioned in other interview that the gears are already turning for what you can do different in Kona in 2018. What are some things that come to mind?
I am, of course, going to continue honing the swim, continue to work on improving the aerodynamics on the bike, continue to hash out my nutrition and hydration plan on the bike and run, begin to correct mobility and efficiency issues, to name a few.
4. What's your favorite post-race meal, reward or ritual?
My favourite post-race meal is definitely a big, juicy burger with fries and to sit by the pool and soak up the sun!
5. What's next for the remainder of this season and looking into 2018?
Next up for me is Ironman Arizona in November. Then, I am going to fall off the planet for a few months and make some big gains in the water!
About Lionel Sanders:
Raised in Harrow, Ontario, Canada, Lionel first got into sports in 4th grade. Over a decade later, he rediscovered running in 2009 and a year later went on to complete his first Ironman in Louisville. That race changed everything, and set Lionel on a path to become a professional triathlete. Since then Lionel has become well regarded for his strong cycling and running skills, and in 2016 set the then-Ironman record course time in Arizona. You can read more from Lionel on his website, or stay up-to-date with him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.