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Canada’s Lionel Sanders claimed his first Ironman victory, while the Netherlands’ Yvonne Van Vlerken earned her third win in Panama City at a shortened Ironman Florida race.
Athletes were informed race morning that due to high winds and a strong rip tide the 2.4-mile swim would be cancelled, with everyone instead starting the day with a time trial bike start. This style of racing meant that it would take some detailed math to calculate where on the course athletes were in relation to each other, as everyone had a different start time. In addition to rough waters, conditions were also colder than usual with temperatures in the 40s to start the day. It’s also worth nothing that starting in 2015 this race – along with eight other full Ironmans – will not offer pro prize money or Kona Pro Ranking points.
Kona runner-up Ben Hoffman (USA) kicked off the racing up front, but Sanders quickly made up the gap and earned the top spot. Great Britain’s Tom Lowe gave Sanders some early competition, but he didn’t stay in striking distance for very long. At the 50-mile mark the Canadian’s lead stood at 3 minutes over the next fastest biker, Lowe. Sanders, who is unquestionably the best runner of the field, started the marathon with a 12:22 lead over Lowe, a 20:43 lead over Maxim Kriat (UKR), a 22:18 lead over Pedro Gomes (PRT) and a 24:16 lead over Hoffman. As expected, Sanders dominated the 26.2-mile run, finishing it in a race-best 2:44:12. The strong bike-run performance gave Sanders his first Ironman victory in 6:58:46. Lowe cruised in for second at 7:17:53, with Kriat rounding out the top three at 7:24:50. Hoffman made it through the marathon in a slow-for-him time of 3:17:25, but he was likely looking to tick off the Kona validation requirement, which he did with a 7:57:13 finish time.
The lack of swim immediately played to the advantage of defending champion Van Vlerken as she is used to coming from behind out of the swim. Van Vlerken dominated the bike ride in 4:55:57, giving her a nearly 18-minute lead over Sweden’s Camilla Lindholm to start the run. Van Vlerken followed her strong performance on the bike with an equally impressive performance on the run, turning in a 3:03:06 marathon. She crossed the finish line for the win at 8:01:47. It was more than 35 minutes before American Ashley Clifford crossed the finish line at 8:36:55. Because of the time trial start, she was second across the line but third in the results. Lindholm claimed the second spot with a time of 8:36:28.
2014 Ironman Florida
Panama City Beach, Florida – Nov. 1, 2014
112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run
1. Lionel Sanders (CAN) 6:58:46
2. Tom Lowe (GBR) 7:17:53
3. Maxim Kriat (UKR) 7:24:50
4. Joerie Vansteelant (BEL) 7:29:31
5. Pedro Gomes (PRT) 7:29:45
1. Yvonne Van Vlerken (NED) 8:01:47
2. Camilla Lindholm (SWE) 8:36:28
3. Ashley Clifford (USA) 8:36:55
4. Rachel Jastrebsky (USA) 8:39:43
5. Michelle Bozarth (USA) 8:50:13