Sanders, Wurtele win St. George

Canadians Lionel Sanders and Heather Wurtele won top honors at the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship at St. George, Utah.

Sanders overcame a 4:30 deficit after the swim with a race-best 2:03:57 bike leg and race-best 1:15:18 run to finish in 3:48:18, with a 2:52 margin of victory over Sebastian Kienle of Germany and 5:08 over 3rd-place finisher Joe Gambles of Australia. Following Sanders’ lead, Canadian men dominated the Ironman 70.3 North American Championship top 10 as Brent McMahon finished 5th, Trevor Wurtele 6th, and Cody Beals 7th.

The win was Sanders’ 5th in a row which began with Ironman Arizona last November and includes 2016 victories at Panama 70.3, Oceanside 70.3 and Texas 70.3.

Heather Wurtele overcame a 1:32 deficit after the swim with a women’s–best 2:22:23 bike and a 1:26:16 run to finish in 4:16:48, with a 1:16 margin of victory over Holly Lawrence of Great Britain and 5:14 over 3rd-place finisher Meredith Kessler of the U.S.


In typically cold water at Sand Hollow State Park, Cam Dye of the U.S. led the swim in 23:09. This gave him a 3 seconds advantage on Tim O’Donnell of the U.S. and Michael Raelert of Germany, 7 seconds on Manuel Kueng of Switzerland and Brian Fleischmann of the U.S., 9 seconds on Sylvain Sudrie of France, 10 seconds on Brent McMahon of Canada, 14 seconds on Matt Chrabot of the U.S., and 1:39 on Joe Gambles of Australia.

A chase group about 2:30 back included Sebastian Kienle of Germany, Leon Griffin of Australia, Tyler Butterfield of Bermuda, Trevor Wurtele of Canada, Ben Hoffman of the U.S., and Cody Beals of Canada. Overall threat Lionel Sanders of Canada trailed by his accustomed deficit of 4 minutes 30 seconds before hitting the road with his fearsome bike and run.

After 20km of the bike, Dye stretched his lead to 48 seconds on McMahon, 49 seconds on Raelert, 51 and 52 seconds on O’Donnell and Chrabot, 1:41 on Gambles, 1:45 on Collington, 2:55 on Kienle, 2:56 on Wurtele, 3 minutes on Hoffman and Butterfield, 3:15 on Taylor Reid, Steve Mantell and Cody Beals, 3:32 on Griffin, and 4:15 on Sanders.

By 40km, Sanders rocketed 2 seconds past Kienle to within 32 seconds of Dye, with Gambles and Raelert 48 seconds down, O’Donnell and Collington 52 and 55 seconds arrears, and McMahon riding alone 28 seconds further back. Men with more serious work to do included Wurtele (+2:37), Chrabot (+2:47), Butterfield (+2:51), Sylvain Sudrie (+2:53), and Hoffman (+2:54).

By 60km, Sanders grabbed a 20 seconds lead on Kienle and Dye. Approaching T2, Kienle maintained that margin while Dye dropped 2 minutes back. Sanders finished the 90km bike leg in a sensational, race-best 2:03:58 split – 2:32 better than Kienle, 5:31 better than Gambles and 5:39 better than Collington. This stretched his lead on Kienle to 51 seconds, followed by a four man crew that included Raelert (+2:42), Gambles (+2:44), Collington (+2:47), and Dye (+2:56). Outridden, O’Donnell (+3:39), McMahon (+3:09), and Wurtele (+4:34) faced heavy lifting to get back in the game on the run.

After the first climb at mile 3 of the run, Kienle sliced Sanders’ lead by 10 seconds – a pace that would take him past the Canadian in the final mile of the run. At mile 5.8, Kienle cut another 10 seconds off the Canadian’s lead while Raelert fell 3:55 behind, Gambles dropped to 4:14, Collington to 4:15, McMahon to 5:39, and Wurtele to 6:03 behind.

After the halfway point of the run, Sanders reversed his slide and by 7.6 miles had a 53 seconds lead on Kienle, 4:42 on Collington and Gambles, 4:58 on Raelert, and 6-plus minutes on Canadians McMahon and Wurtele, while Beals, O’Donnell and Dye fell to 8th through 10th at 8-plus minutes down.

After his race-best ride gave him the lead, Sanders backed it up with a race-best 1:15:18 run that brought him to the finish in 3:48:18, with 2:52 margin of victory over Kienle (3rd-best 1:17:19 run) and 5:08 over 3rd-place Joe Gambles (5th-best 1:17:42 run). Kevin Collington held off a late surge by Brent McMahon to take 4th by 6 seconds.


Meredith Kessler led the women's swim in 26:27, which gave her a 1 second lead on Holly Lawrence of Great Britain, 3 seconds on Ellie Salthouse of Australia, 5 seconds on Mary Beth Ellis of the U.S., 6 seconds on Emily Cocks of the U.S., 9 seconds on Jeanni Seymour of South Africa, 10 seconds on Magali Tisseyre of Canada, 14 seconds on Amanda Stevens of the U.S., and 1:32 on Heather Wurtele of Canada.

After 30km of the bike leg, Kessler held a 6 seconds lead on Lawrence, 44 seconds on Tisseyre, 1:15 on Wurtele, 2:04 on Ellis, 3:30 on Salthouse, 3:37 on Seymour, and 6:35 on two-time Wildflower winner Heather Jackson of the U.S. At 40km, Lawrence and Kessler led Wurtele by 19 seconds and Tisseyre by 28 seconds, while Jackson was falling back to 7:31 and 3-time Ironman World Champion Mirinda Carfrae was 9:34 arrears.

At the finish of the 90km bike leg, Wurtele led Lawrence by 4 seconds, Kessler by 48 seconds, Tisseyre by 2:42, and Ellis and Salthouse by 7-plus minutes; Jackson (+11:42) and Carfrae (+14:21) had fallen off the back.

After 2 miles of the run, Wurtele and Lawrence ran together while Kessler faded 2 minutes off the leaders. In the next two miles, Wurtele broke away to a 30 seconds lead on Lawrence, 1:33, on Kessler and 4:08 on Tisseyre.

After her women's-best 1:26:16 run, Wurtele finished in 4:16:48 with a 1:16 margin of victory over Holly Lawrence of Great Britain (1:27:14 run) and 5:14 over 3rd-place finisher Meredith Kessler of the U.S. (1:30:45 run).

Ironman 70.3 St. George
St. George, Utah
May 7, 2016
S 1.2 mi. / B 56 mi. / R 13.1 mi.



1. Lionel Sanders (CAN) 3:48:18
2. Sebastian Kienle (GER) 3:51:10
3. Joe Gambles (AUS) 3:53:26
4. Kevin Collington (USA) 3:54:40
5. Brent McMahon (CAN) 3:54:46
6. Trevor Wurtele (CAN) 3:56:00
7. Cody Beals (CAN) 3:56:37
8. Michael Raelert (GER) 3:57:57
9. Tim O’Donnell (USA) 3:59:07
10. Cameron Dye (USA) 3:59:23


1. Heather Wurtele (CAN) 4:16:48
2. Holly Lawrence (GBR) 4:18:04
3. Meredith Kessler (USA) 4:22:02
4. Magali Tisseyre (CAN) 4:24:36
5. Ellie Salthouse (AUS) 4:26:52
6. Jeanni Seymour (RSA) 4:27:58
7. Laura Siddall (GBR) 4:30:42
8. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 4:33:19
9. Mary Beth Ellis (USA) 36:31
10. Skye Moensch (USA) 4:43:16