Kona Kings & Queens: Lionel Sanders

This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2018 Rating Report“. You can download your copy here.

Lionel BibLionel Points

Lionel is the top candidate to become the first North American winner since fellow Canadian Peter Reid in 2003. After a great swim (leading the second group that included Sebastian Kienle) and a hard bike he was leading Kona 2017 for most of the marathon, only to be passed by Patrick Lange in the last miles.

Most of his 2018 racing has also been nearly flawless: Four 70.3 wins and just one second place (behind Jan Frodeno at 70.3 Oceanside). But even though he was qualified after winning IM Arizona in November, he still raced IM Mont Tremblant in August. His second place finished felt like a disaster to him: He struggled with energy issues all day and was racing very uneven. Apparently he was trying to lose some weight in the days before the race in addition to his low-carb nutrition. Lionel was pretty open about the issues in his YouTube channel, but there are only eight weeks between Mont Tremblant and Kona – enough time to still turn things around?

Lionel will need another swim in the second pack in order to not to have to spend too much energy too early. In Kona 2016 he wasn’t able to make it to the front of the race in time and he ended up finishing 29th. But if he can join forces with Sebi and Cam Wurf and work their way to the lead group on the bike as last year, then he can fight for a great Kona 2018 finish – and Lionel has shown that he can run well even when he is running on fumes.

15 Sanders

Photo: Lionel working hard (as usual) on the run at Challenge Samorin. Credit: James Mitchell


Kona Rookie Sara Svensk

Sara received a late roll-down July slot on August 10th when Lisa Roberts declined her slot. We’ve had an email discussion but not quite in time for my “Kona 2018 Rating Report”, but here are some of her thoughts before her first Kona race. 

Thorsten: How do you view your season so far? You were working hard for a Kona slot and raced a lot?

Sara: It has been a lot of ups and downs during the season but it has also being a learning experience for me. I’m new in the sport and right now I’m just trying to get as much experience as I can and try to develop as much as possible. This journey is special and I am enjoying the process. Of course it really hard sometimes but you always learn something from your setbacks or from a competition that didn’t go as you planned.

T: How will you prepare for Kona? Are there specific “areas” that you’ll be focusing on?

S: I will probably be a lot fresher, my body is responding to all the hard training and I recover fast. I really need to focus on heat adaption. Coming from a cold country like Sweden it could be a struggle if you don’t get it right. I love the heath though.

T: There are a lot of Scandinavian ladies on the Kona startlist. Why do you think are they so successful these days?

S: I believe that men and women in the Scandinavian countries are given almost the same opportunities to do sport on a professional level. Triathlon is a small sport in Sweden and the other Nordic countries and you need someone to make the first step and set the first mark. Seeing Michelle Vesterby, Camilla Pedersen, Helle Frederiksen, Maja Stage and Asa Lundstroem really inspires me and probably other women in Denmark and Sweden. They showed that it is possible to come from a small cold country and still to be able to compete on the highest level. We are getting there with Patrik Nilsson setting the first Swedish mark and I think will see a lot of Swedish guys in the future.

T: What’s the plan for your first race in Kona?

S: I just want to do a good race. I will mostly focus on my race and try to stick to my plan.

T: Are there any specific plans for racing after Kona?

S: We’ll see how Kona goes and take it from there. But probably a little break 😊

Sara Run

Photo: Sara training for the run. Credit: Romulo Cruz


Ironman Taiwan 2018 – Analyzing Results

IMTaiwanCourse Conditions

The swim in Taiwan was shortened to roughly 400m because of high winds. The following bike also didn’t create much separation, so the race was decided on the run, with the fastest marathons by Daniel Fontana and Sue Huse winning the race.

Male Race Results

Rank Name Nation Swim Bike Run Time Prize Money
1 Daniel Fontana ITA 00:04:28 04:34:50 03:02:45 07:47:35 US$ 5,000
2 Jarrod Harvey AUS 00:04:35 04:34:41 03:05:44 07:50:29 US$ 2,750
3 Alexander Polizzi AUS 00:04:20 04:39:31 03:11:56 08:01:21 US$ 1,750
4 Domenico Passuello ITA 00:05:25 04:40:50 03:12:40 08:04:40 US$ 1,250
5 Gerhard De Bruin ZAF 00:04:39 04:45:43 03:15:16 08:11:33 US$ 1,000
6 Balazs Csoke HUN 00:04:22 04:50:21 03:14:56 08:15:35 US$ 750
7 Zsombor Deak ROM 00:05:29 05:01:11 03:07:27 08:19:31  
8 Eneko Elosegui ESP 00:05:28 04:53:18 03:17:37 08:21:29  
9 Imanol Sagarzazu ESP 00:05:40 05:06:41 03:07:18 08:24:44  
  Christian Haupt GER 00:05:21 05:02:05   DNF  

Female Race Results

Rank Name Nation Swim Bike Run Time Prize Money
1 Sue Huse CAN 00:06:28 05:00:18 03:12:20 08:25:03 US$ 5,000
2 Sonia Bracegirdle NZL 00:05:18 04:54:48 03:25:33 08:31:59 US$ 2,750
3 Katharina Grohmann GER 00:06:31 05:07:21 03:15:50 08:34:40 US$ 1,750
4 Judith Corachan Vacquero ESP 00:05:16 05:01:37 03:25:34 08:37:39 US$ 1,250
5 Jennie Hansen USA 00:06:31 05:08:22 03:17:44 08:39:39 US$ 1,000
6 Kelly Fillnow USA 00:06:35 05:07:34 03:29:04 08:49:06 US$ 750
7 Brooke Brown CAN 00:06:20 05:14:27 03:27:06 08:55:30  
8 Palmira Alvarez MEX 00:06:24 05:21:57 03:32:53 09:12:20  
9 Shiao-yu Li TWN 00:06:19 05:37:27 03:33:18 09:24:21  
10 Nicole Valentine USA 00:06:14 05:31:37 03:50:00 09:33:15  

Kona Graphs

As a lot of the graphs in the PDF version of my Kona Rating Report are relatively low-res, here are some more detailed versions of the graphs (click on the thumbnail to get full-res versions):




Unfolding Race




Kona Kings & Queens: David McNamee

This is an excerpt from my “Kona 2018 Rating Report“. You can download your copy here.

David PointsDavid Bib

McNamee RunDavid was a big surprise on the 2017 Kona podium. Similar to Patrick, he was able to limit the time he lost on the bike and then was able to have the second-best marathon of the day – running himself into third place and becoming the first male British athlete on the podium.

David struggled in his 2018 Ironman when he finished IM Austria with a sub-standard 3:30 marathon. But he’s had a couple of good 70.3 that show he’s still able to race (and run!) well. He’s also proven in the past that he races well in the Kona heat – he’s one of the few athletes that have set their marathon PR in Kona. (The only other male Pro racing this year is Patrick Lange.)

With his run strength in Kona, David has an outside chance to repeat on the podium, especially if 2018 Kona becomes another runner’s race.

Photo: David on the run at 70.3 Barcelona where he finished second to Javier Gomez. Credit: James Mitchell


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