Sanders, Findlay take St. George 70.3

Canadians Lionel Sanders and Paula Findlay took the measure of strong fields to earn the top prizes at Ironman 70.3 St. George.

Sanders combined an 8th-best 25:21 swim, 2nd-best 2:01:33 bike split and a second-fastest 1:11:47 half marathon to finish in 3:41:11 with a 1:27 margin of victory over race-long rival Sebastian Kienle of Germany and 2:03 over third place Michael Weiss of Austria.

Sanders thus improved on his second place finish to Alistair Brownlee at this race last year with a time that was 47 seconds faster than the mark made by the two-time Olympic champion, who did not compete this year.

Findlay has come a long way from her heyday as a top contender in the elite ITU WCS series in 2010 and 2011, a subsequent decline due to injuries and illness, and a recent reemergence into the spotlight in the middle distance 70.3 series. Today’s performance against a world class field is a significant milestone in Findlay’s second act as she combined a women’s 4th-fastest 24:46 swim, a 3rd-best 2:25:12 bike split and a 3rd-best 1:23:05 run to finish in 4:15:52 with a 1:23 margin of victory over Jeanni Seymour of South Africa and 1:53 over 3rd place Sarah True of the United States.

Findlay was elated at her first big win at the 70.3 distance and wrote on Facebook: "Can’t quite believe that happened! This morning I decided to race with confidence, race like I belonged at the front, and race like I had nothing to lose. And I won! Thanks to everyone who is part of my circle, especially coach @pstriathlon and my MOM who is my biggest supporter of all."

Findlay’s time was 3:45 off the mark set by 2017 winner Holly Lawrence of Great Britain, who was not present to defend her title.


Sam Appleton of Australia led the men’s swim in 23:15, which gave him a 12 seconds lead on Matt Franklin of New Zealand, 14 seconds on Justin Metzler of the U.S., 15 seconds on Antony Costes of France, 18 seconds on Tim Reed of Australia, 20 seconds on Joe Gambles of Australia, and 59 seconds on Antoine Jolicoeur.

Overall contenders and strong cyclists Lionel Sanders of Canada and Sebastian Kienle of Germany were a very makeable 2:12 and 2:14 back of the leaders, followed by Trevor Wurtele of Canada (+2:52) Andrew Talansky of the U.S.(+3:00), and Michael Weiss of Austria (+3:25).

After just 25 minutes, Kienle and Sanders closed to within 10 seconds of Gambles and Reed, who retained a significant lead. After 11 miles of the bike leg, Appleton stretched his lead to 44 seconds on Costes, 1:14 on Reed, 1:15 on Gambles, 1:26 on Sanders and 1:28 on Kienle. Metzler, Jolicoeur and Franklin were next, between 2:09 and 2:52, with reputed cyclist Talansky and Weiss about 3 and a half minutes arrears.

After 26 miles, Appleton hung on to a 36 seconds lead on Kienle, 41 seconds on Sanders, and 43 seconds on Reed. Reed and Gambles rode close together at 1:18 down.

At 40 miles, Sanders took the lead, followed closely by Kienle, Appleton and Costes. Sanders led Kienle by 3 seconds, Appleton by 21 seconds and Costes by 51 seconds. Advancing to 5th, Michael Weiss trailed by 3:07, with Ironman 70.3 newcomer Talansky, 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Champion Tim Reed, and Gambles right behind.

After a race-best 2:01:15 bike split, Kienle led the field into T2 with a 17 seconds lead on Sanders (2:01:32 bike split), 1:15 on Weiss (2:02:30), 2:30 on Talansky (2:03:44), 4:26 on Appleton (2:05:41), 5:52 on Costes (2:07:07), and 7:42 to 7:47 on Reed (2:08:57) and Gambles.(2:09:02).

After 2.3 miles of the run, it became a two-man duel. Sanders led Kienle by 18 seconds, Appleton by 2:39, Weiss by 2:42, Costes by 6:02, Reed by 6:18 and Talansky by 6:19.

After 7.67 miles, Sanders broke the elastic band and led Kienle by 49 seconds, Weiss by 2:09, Appleton by 3:51 and Reed by 7:36.

After 11 miles of the run and a painful downhill to the finish, Sanders had a 1:20 gap to Kienle, with Weiss another minute back. Appleton ran 4th 5 minutes back, and his former coach Reed held 5th another 3 minutes arrears.

After a race-best 1:11:47 run, Sanders finished in a sizzling fast 3:41:11 with a 1:27 margin of victory over Kienle and 2:03 over third place Weiss who closed fast with a race-best 1:10:41 run.


The first pro woman out of the water was Pamella Oliveira of Brazil in 24:33, who had a lead of 2 seconds on ITU veteran Sarah True, 6 seconds on Alicia Kaye of the U.S., 13 seconds on Paula Findlay of Canada and Meredith Kessler of the U.S., 59 seconds on Jeanni Seymour of South Africa, 1:03 on Rachel Olson of the U.S., 1:16 on Kay Evans of the U.S., and 3:04 on Heather Wurtele of Canada.

By Mile 11 of the bike leg, Kessler, one week after her comeback to competition at Ironman Texas and 5 months after childbirth, took a 2 seconds lead on Kaye, 4 seconds on True, 6 seconds on Findlay, 8 seconds on Oliveira, 1:26 on Seymour, and 3:02 to 3:20 on Melanie McQuaid of Canada, Olson, and Wurtele.

By 26.9 miles into the bike leg, Kessler led a breakaway pack of five women by 4 seconds over Kaye, 9 seconds on Findlay, 12 seconds on True and 15 seconds on Oliveira. Further back were Seymour (+2:41), Wurtele (+3:53), and Melanie McQuaid (+3:55).

Two hours into the race, Oliveira and True dropped off a leading pack of 3. At the top of the biggest hill on the course, Kessler opened a minute lead on Kaye and Findlay, while True ran 4th, 1:30 down, and Oliveira fell to 5th.

After a 2:21 bike split, Kessler led the women into T2 with a 51 seconds advantage on Kaye, 1:04 on Findlay, 3:12 on True, 3:27 on Oliveira, 3:58 on Wurtele and 4:30 on Seymour.

After 2.5 miles of the run, Kessler’s lead dropped to 25 seconds on Findlay. Just a week after completing the Ironman North America Championship in Texas, Kessler will find it hard to hold her hard fought lead. Kaye held 3rd, one minute back, while True advanced to 2 minutes down in 4th place.

At 4 miles into the run, Findlay took the lead while Kessler fought hard to stay on the Canadian’s heels and Kaye held 3rd, one minute back of the leader. Meanwhile, True was charging and overtook Kaye by Mile 6.

After 7.67 miles of the run, Findlay led True by 1:20, Kaye by 2:04, Kessler by 2:11, and Seymour, who was running at the fastest pace, by 2:39.

By 11 miles, Findlay solidified her lead, gapping True by 1:34, Seymour by 1:47 and Kaye by 2:54. With a mile to go, Seymour passed True to take over second place.

Thanks to her women's-best 1:21:05 run, Seymour took the silver by 30 seconds over True, who ran 1:22:55.

Ironman 70.3 St. George
St. George, Utah
May 5, 2018
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.



1. Lionel Sanders (CAN) 3:41:11 S 25:21 T1 1:06 B 2:01:33 T2 1:27 R 1:11:47
2. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 3:42:38 S 25:23 T1 1:20 B 2:01:16 T2 1:27 R 1:13:14
3. Michael Weiss (AUT) 3:43:14 S 26:39 T1 1:38 B 2:02:31 T2 1:47 R 1:10:41
4. Sam Appleton (AUS) 3:46:51 S 23:09 T1 1:18 B 2:05:41 T2 1:31 R 1:15:14
5. Tim Reed (AUS) 3:50:25 S 23:26 T1 1:30 B 2:08:57 T2 1:48 R 1:14:46


1. Paula Findlay (CAN) 4:15:52 S 24:39 T1 1:15 B 2:25:12 T2 1:44 R 1:23:05
2. Jeanni Seymour (RSA) 4:17:15 S 25:26 T1 1:13 B 2:27:52 T2 1:44R 1:21:05
3. Sarah True (USA) 4:17:45 S 24:29 T1 1:15 B 2:27:29 T2 1:39 R 1:22:55
4. Alicia Kaye (USA) 4:19:18 S 24:33 T1 1:17 B 2:25:02 T2 1:47 R 1:26:41
5. Meredith Kessler (USA) 4:21:31 S 24:38 T1 1:45 B 2:23:38 T2 1:55 R 1:29:37