Lionel Sanders and Daniela Ryf win Ironman 70.3 St. George in Utah to take the 70.3 North American Championship titles.

A thrilling men’s race with a down-to-the-wire finish saw Canada’s Lionel Sanders edge out the USA’s Sam Long in a race he described as “the most I’ve ever suffered”. Meanwhile, Daniela Ryf reinforced her position as this generation’s finest triathlete with a dominating performance.

Ironman 70.3 St. George Men’s Race

The men’s race got underway with Australia’s Sam Appleton leading from Sand Hollow Reservoir in 23:08, but there was no time in the limelight for him as the race’s defending champion, Rudy von Berg (USA), was quickly onto his bike and off the front of the race.

Only the powerful quads of Denmark’s Magnus Ditlev were equal to the task of hunting down the American while behind, race favourites Lionel Sanders (CAN) and Sam Long (USA) overcame their swim deficits over the hilly course to hit the front of the chase group.

Ditlev managed to distance von Berg and hit the run first, but the expected detonation of the hard-charging Dane’s legs didn’t happen. He ran strong throughout but it was the firepower of Sanders, and Sam Long’s determination to stick with his idol-come-rival that made the race a classic battle.

Lionel Sanders Ironman 70.3 St. George 2021
Lionels Sanders was pushed to his limits by Sam Long at 70.3 St. George. (Photo: Ironman)

Overcoming a three-minute deficit, Sanders and Long along with Daniel Baekkegard (DEN) – who would be DQ’d for not serving a penalty – caught Ditlev, who held tough for a while then capitulated as hot pace set by Sanders continued.

With 3km to go, we had the thrill of seeing Long and Sanders racing shoulder to shoulder, each unable to shake the other. Then, in a move straight out of Mark Allen’s Ironwar-winning playbook, Sanders stormed through the final aid station as Long grabbed a cup to cool himself.

Both men were in a full sprint, but Sanders got there six seconds sooner, crossing the line in 3:42:55. The two titans hit the ground after the finish before Sanders helped Long to his feet for an emotional embrace. Pushing each other to their limits, both men ran the exact same 1:11:03 half-marathon split.

Over two minutes later, Ditlev took third – eventually losing less than 20 seconds to Rudy von Berg, who came home in fourth ahead of Canada’s Jackson Laundry.

  SwimBikeRunOverall
1
Lionel Sanders
25:00 (36)2:02:55 (5)1:11:03 (2)3:42:55
2
Sam Long
25:23 (40)2:02:38 (3)1:11:03 (1)3:43:01
3
Magnus Elbaek Ditlev
23:24 (10)2:01:25 (1)1:16:05 (12)3:45:10
4
Rudy Von Berg
23:13 (4)2:02:39 (4)1:15:54 (10)3:45:27
5
Jackson Laundry
23:50 (18)2:04:46 (10)1:13:19 (4)3:45:42
6
Andreas Dreitz
24:47 (32)2:02:57 (6)1:15:06 (7)3:47:12
7
Florian Angert
23:14 (5)2:04:45 (9)1:15:03 (6)3:47:22
8
 Paul Ruttmann
26:57 (44)2:01:46 (2)1:16:09 (13)3:49:46
9
Joe Gambles
23:25 (11)2:06:41 (13)1:15:14 (8)3:49:47
10
Bradley Weiss
24:43 (27)2:06:53 (14)1:14:09 (5)3:49:56

Ironman 70.3 St. George Women’s Race

With the cannon firing for the women just two minutes after the men got underway, it was no surprise to see swimmer-in-chief Haley Chura (USA) pull ahead of the other women and join the back of the men’s pro field.

The 50-second lead she gained meant precious little airtime once the chase group containing four-time Kona winner Daniela Ryf (SUI), PTO 2020 Championship victor Paula Findlay and uber-runner Jeanni Metzler (RSA) got onto two wheels.

Ryf was soon in the front and making massive gains on the rest of the field. The UK’s Emma Pallant-Browne was the big mover behind, going from eighth out the water to second by T2 – but fleet footed as she is, Ryf was already six minutes up the road on the run.

Over a minute further back, Skye Moench (USA), Metzler and Findlay hit the run course and it was the Metzler who immediately put the hammer down in pursuit of Pallant-Browne.

Running a faster pace than the Brit, Metzler took second as Pallant-Browne dived into a portaloo, but the Brit continued to run strong in third. The pair initially took a couple of minutes out of Ryf, but the nine-time world champ seemed to be just getting going.

Ratcheting up the pace in the last 5km to once again balloon her lead, Ryf skipped over the line to take the tape in 4:05:46. Metzler came home second in 4:10:14 while less than a minute later, Pallant-Browne took the final spot on the podium in 4:11:02.

Behind them, Findlay dug deep on a tough day to move from sixth to fourth in the second half of the run – putting Skye Moench into fifth and defending St. George champ Holly Lawrence (GBR) into sixth.

  SwimBikeRunOverall
1
Daniela Ryf
24:44 (3)2:14:11 (1)1:22:15 (5)4:05:46
2
Jeanni Metzler
24:43 (2)2:21:32 (4)1:19:31 (2)4:10:14
3
Emma Pallant
26:07 (8)2:19:16 (2)1:21:24 (3)4:11:02
4
Paula Findlay
24:49 (4)2:21:40 (5)1:23:12 (8)4:14:06
5
Skye Moench
26:15 (13)2:19:47 (3)1:23:44 (9)4:14:23
6
Holly Lawrence
25:27 (5)2:22:26 (6)1:22:37 (6)4:14:47
7
Sophie Watts
26:02 (6)2:27:10 (10)1:18:59 (1)4:16:43
8
Jackie Hering
26:08 (10)2:24:48 (8)1:22:55 (7)4:18:14
9
Carrie Lester
26:11 (11)2:24:47 (7)1:27:00 (11)4:22:47
10
Sarah Crowley
26:07 (9)2:28:56 (12)1:25:47 (10)4:25:21

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