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Lionel Sanders

Visit Profile
13
World Rank
1
National
178
Swim
10
Bike
16
Run
Canada
Weight
73kg
Height
1.77m
Age
36
Born
1988
Swim
Blueseventy
Bike
Canyon
Run
Nike
Biography

Lionel Sanders

“From my experience, it appears that there are no limits, other than the self-created and imposed ones that only exist in your mind. I plan on spending my entire triathlon career testing this hypothesis.”

Watching Canadian Lionel Sanders train and race, you know that those are far from the hollow words of a polished ‘influencer’ seeking additional social media likes and external validation. Sanders has the rare ability to consistently push himself to places where others fear to tread. More than that, he is one of the most consistently successful long-distance triathletes in the world.

After another epic head-to-head battle at The Championship in Samorin in 2018, his great rival Sebastian Kienle said of Lionel: “I don’t know what I have to do to beat this man, I think he’s the only one that can beat himself. Usually at some point people tend to break and don’t want to have the pain any more, but he just seems to f***ing enjoy it.”

Born in Windsor, Ontario, ‘The Colonel’ did not follow the traditional route into elite sport. The sport may well have saved his life from spiraling further out of control.

As he admits, “Triathlon came to me.”

Enter triathlon, and learning to swim

In August 2010, with no thoughts of a career in the sport, Sanders took part in his first IRONMAN in Louisville. Lapped on the run course by eventual winner Paul Ambrose, he would finish almost two hours later.

“I thought he looked so cool, and was amazed that someone could still be running that fast, that late into a long-distance event. I believe it was at that moment that the seed to become a professional triathlete was planted.”

Three years later, Sanders lined up for his first professional race at IRONMAN 70.3 Muskoka, where he dominated, leaving none other than the legendary Andreas Raelert trailing six-and-a-half minutes down in second place. Sanders clearly had the physical gifts to go with his focus and determination to improve.

Later that season he would race in his first IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Mont-Tremblant, Canada. A latecomer to swimming, he would emerge from the opening 1.9km dead last, conceding four-and-a-half minutes to all-time greats including Javier Gomez and Jan Frodeno.

That scenario could have mentally crushed many young athletes aspiring to greatness, but Sanders simply got to work on the bike and run, eventually finishing fourth with just Gomez, Frodeno and Great Britain’s Tim Don ahead of him. “It was there that the belief that I could be a professional triathlete was truly solidified”, he says.

Sanders has been one of the most active and race-winning athletes in the world of long-distance triathlon ever since and a permanent feature in the upper echelons of the PTO World Rankings.

More than 20 victories on the IRONMAN 70.3 circuit have followed since that debut win, while full-distance racing has also provided a natural home for his ability to suffer, with wins in Florida (2014) and Arizona (2015, 2016, 2017).

Conquering the World Championship in Kona is the goal for many long-distance triathletes, and in 2017 Sanders came very close to his ultimate target.

Despite what by his own standards were modest results on his first two visits to the Big Island (14th in 2015 and 29th in 2016), Sanders wasn’t lacking confidence. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe I could win the race,” he said at the time.

Having overcome a puncture to win the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championship in August, Lionel arrived in Hawaii in great form and on the back of an almost-perfect season.

Twenty miles into the run, he was leading by three-and-a-half minutes, his distinctive running style reflecting the pain which would have been running through his body. Behind, Germany’s Patrick Lange was defying the conditions with a grace and speed which marks him out as one of the great heat runners in our sport’s history.

The pass was made at 23 miles, but the heights to which Sanders pushed his body that day will live long in the memory.

From the depths of despair

Rewind a decade and the life of Lionel Sanders had looked very different.

“Towards the end of high school I got sidetracked and tried to find myself through alcohol and drugs. I went down that path for a number of years, which eventually led me to drop out of university. Over the next couple of years I went deep inside of myself, becoming severely social-phobic, depressed and paranoid.”

Lionel had been a keen runner in high school, and after hitting “rock bottom on several occasions”, in November 2009 he started running again.

That action would lead to that first IRONMAN in Louisville, which subsequently set him on the path he still charts now.

Renowned for his self-motivation in training - Sanders is well-known for his epic indoor training workouts on his smart trainer, treadmill and endless pool - he has also had to learn how to balance that. Something which has always come easy.

Always learning, he describes the best piece of training advice as, “As hard as you train, you must recover just as hard”.

He also has another sporting passion, golf, which works well with recovery and relaxation. Unlike his triathlon ability, he makes no claims to be a champion on the fairway.

Sanders will certainly be the figurehead of an International squad which will seek to secure the trophy at the PTO’s flagship event, The Collins Cup, in Samorin in 2021.

His previous successes at that venue in 2017 and 2018 will make him a very tough opponent for anybody.

Should that result in another epic head-to-head with Kienle, few will complain.

Show more
Current PTO World Ranking Points
13
Ironman 70.3 Oceanside 2024
Bonus +5%
94.11
Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant 2024
89.17
PTO US Open 2023
85.04
Sum / 3
89.44
Ranking History
#1#130#259#388#5172014201520162017201820192020202120222023*20242014Overall72.13 pts#31Swim17.75 pts#515Bike76.50 pts#27Run83.66 pts#132015Overall88.72 pts#10Swim28.87 pts#463Bike97.26 pts#5Run90.03 pts#72016Overall97.41 pts#5Swim38.23 pts#450Bike104.94 pts#2Run90.48 pts#152017Overall110.09 pts#1Swim54.85 pts#343Bike111.66 pts#1Run93.23 pts#112018Overall110.09 pts#2Swim57.32 pts#294Bike111.66 pts#1Run96.29 pts#102019Overall105.56 pts#3Swim60.57 pts#277Bike109.33 pts#1Run91.38 pts#192020Overall100.51 pts#5Swim59.47 pts#224Bike106.56 pts#2Run84.83 pts#262021Overall100.89 pts#3Swim74.10 pts#145Bike99.97 pts#4Run99.90 pts#82022Overall105.60 pts#6Swim68.34 pts#251Bike104.55 pts#2Run98.18 pts#132023Overall82.14 pts#32Swim47.59 pts#206Bike85.39 pts#18Run82.87 pts#212024Overall89.44 pts#13Swim54.31 pts#178Bike90.99 pts#10Run87.03 pts#16

* New PTO World Ranking System implemented.

Results

77 Races35
1
18
2
3
3

2024

Points: NaN
Date#TierRaceSwimBikeRunOverallSOFPts
23 Jun
1
GoldIronman 70.3 Mont Tremblant16:102:01:441:13:473:35:11
89.17
83.52
89.17
Swim16:10
Bike2:01:44
Run1:13:47
06 Apr
1
GoldIronman 70.3 Oceanside24:362:06:111:10:403:46:24
89.63
85.32
89.63
Swim24:36
Bike2:06:11
Run1:10:40

2023

Points: NaN
Date#TierRaceSwimBikeRunOverallSOFPts
24 Sep
3
SilverIronman 70.3 Augusta23:012:01:051:12:343:41:23
72.73
73.43
72.73
Swim23:01
Bike2:01:05
Run1:12:34
17 Sep
2
SilverIronman 70.3 Michigan25:181:58:421:09:533:36:59
79.71
80.06
79.71
Swim25:18
Bike1:58:42
Run1:09:53
27 Aug
DNF
PlatinumIronman 70.3 World Championship--:----:----:----:--
0
90.59
-
Swim--:--
Bike--:--
Run--:--
04 Aug
11
DiamondPTO US Open29:361:45:381:02:093:19:59
85.04
92.46
85.04
Swim29:36
Bike1:45:38
Run1:02:09
23 Jul
1
SilverIronman 70.3 Oregon17:511:59:471:11:293:33:36
80.23
74.01
80.23
Swim17:51
Bike1:59:47
Run1:11:29
10 Jun
2
SilverIronman 70.3 Boulder25:501:56:591:12:413:38:12
77.82
81.66
77.82
Swim25:50
Bike1:56:59
Run1:12:41
13 May
2
SilverIronman 70.3 Gulf Coast28:321:54:091:14:183:39:55
80.75
83.77
80.75
Swim28:32
Bike1:54:09
Run1:14:18
06 May
4
GoldIronman 70.3 St. George26:032:04:571:13:343:48:19
80.62
84.19
80.62
Swim26:03
Bike2:04:57
Run1:13:34
10 Mar
DNF
SilverClash Miami22:15--:----:----:--
0
84.9
-
Swim22:15
Bike--:--
Run--:--

2022

Points: NaN
Date#TierRaceSwimBikeRunOverallSOFPts
04 Dec
4
SilverIronman 70.3 Indian Wells26:532:03:031:11:013:45:15
73.6
80.16
73.60
Swim26:53
Bike2:03:03
Run1:11:01
08 Oct
34
DiamondIronman Hawaii52:574:16:303:17:528:32:27
58.32
91.45
58.32
Swim52:57
Bike4:16:30
Run3:17:52
18 Sep
21
DiamondPTO US Open29:141:47:301:08:523:27:31
73.24
87.17
73.24
Swim29:14
Bike1:47:30
Run1:08:52
20 Aug
3
DiamondCollins Cup27:031:41:191:01:203:12:24
92.47
87.97
92.47
Swim27:03
Bike1:41:19
Run1:01:20
24 Jul
7
DiamondPTO Canadian Open28:491:43:461:01:123:15:49
86.22
84.87
86.22
Swim28:49
Bike1:43:46
Run1:01:12
26 Jun
1
SilverIronman 70.3 Mont Tremblant25:292:05:161:13:583:48:01
78.98
72.47
78.98
Swim25:29
Bike2:05:16
Run1:13:58
07 May
2
DiamondIronman St. George World Championships52:064:16:142:42:247:54:02
90.61
80.09
90.61
Swim52:06
Bike4:16:14
Run2:42:24
02 Apr
2
SilverIronman 70.3 Oceanside24:252:08:081:08:283:45:32
77.51
79.85
77.51
Swim24:25
Bike2:08:08
Run1:08:28

2021

Points: NaN
Date#RaceSwimBikeRunOverallAITPts
05 Dec
1
Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells25:062:00:251:09:183:38:18
101.169
03:38:41
101.17
Swim25:06
Bike2:00:25
Run1:09:18
06 Nov
2
Ironman Florida58:184:04:292:40:427:48:49
98.9556
07:48:05
98.96
Swim58:18
Bike4:04:29
Run2:40:42
26 Sep
2
Ironman Chattanooga43:364:21:052:45:587:54:46
87.9923
07:46:22
87.99
Swim43:36
Bike4:21:05
Run2:45:58
28 Aug
9
Collins Cup27:271:44:291:03:323:19:17
92.0447
03:16:56
92.04
Swim27:27
Bike1:44:29
Run1:03:32
22 Aug
2
Ironman Copenhagen49:034:12:102:43:497:49:23
91.2221
07:43:17
91.22
Swim49:03
Bike4:12:10
Run2:43:49
18 Jul
2
Tri Battle50:584:00:262:50:317:43:30
-
-
Swim50:58
Bike4:00:26
Run2:50:31
27 Jun
11
Ironman Coeur d'Alene52:124:22:193:53:069:11:10
5.04485
08:02:27
5.04
Swim52:12
Bike4:22:19
Run3:53:06
01 May
1
Ironman 70.3 St. George25:002:02:551:11:033:42:55
102.532
03:43:46
102.53
Swim25:00
Bike2:02:55
Run1:11:03
11 Apr
1
Ironman 70.3 Texas26:352:01:431:10:513:42:00
94.6013
03:40:13
94.60
Swim26:35
Bike2:01:43
Run1:10:51
12 Mar
2
Challenge Miami22:261:22:3953:232:40:27
97.0089
02:39:44
97.01
Swim22:26
Bike1:22:39
Run53:23

2020

Points: NaN
Date#RaceSwimBikeRunOverallAITPts
06 Dec
4
Challenge Daytona25:531:38:2959:463:06:15
95.9185
03:05:07
95.92
Swim25:53
Bike1:38:29
Run59:46

2019

Points: NaN
Date#RaceSwimBikeRunOverallAITPts
14 Dec
1
Challenge Daytona23:151:14:5442:512:23:02
92.7758
02:21:30
92.78
Swim23:15
Bike1:14:54
Run42:51
08 Dec
1
Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells26:372:00:481:12:313:43:37
89.8096
03:40:15
89.81
Swim26:37
Bike2:00:48
Run1:12:31
03 Nov
1
Ironman 70.3 Los Cabos25:172:02:331:13:093:44:06
108.565
03:47:01
108.56
Swim25:17
Bike2:02:33
Run1:13:09
12 Oct
22
Ironman Hawaii52:224:15:223:13:428:25:54
68.392
08:03:00
68.39
Swim52:22
Bike4:15:22
Run3:13:42
29 Sep
1
Ironman 70.3 Augusta23:082:03:081:12:303:42:19
97.0382
03:41:20
97.04
Swim23:08
Bike2:03:08
Run1:12:30
18 Aug
2
Ironman Mont Tremblant51:484:15:122:53:588:05:38
92.3632
08:00:08
92.36
Swim51:48
Bike4:15:12
Run2:53:58

2018

Points: NaN
Date#RaceSwimBikeRunOverallAITPts
09 Dec
1
Ironman 70.3 Indian Wells26:412:04:23--:--3:45:59
85.5324
03:41:11
85.53
Swim26:41
Bike2:04:23
Run--:--
13 Oct
28
Ironman Hawaii53:594:16:583:15:268:30:34
59.2167
08:01:08
59.22
Swim53:59
Bike4:16:58
Run3:15:26
19 Aug
2
Ironman Mont Tremblant55:074:28:332:55:508:24:01
76.9179
08:07:09
76.92
Swim55:07
Bike4:28:33
Run2:55:50
24 Jun
1
Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant24:152:02:191:11:233:40:58
101.054
03:41:19
101.05
Swim24:15
Bike2:02:19
Run1:11:23
03 Jun
1
Challenge "The Championship" Samorin29:051:58:171:10:493:43:28
98.7546
03:43:03
98.75
Swim29:05
Bike1:58:17
Run1:10:49
05 May
1
Ironman 70.3 St. George25:262:01:311:13:133:41:11
107.058
03:43:33
107.06
Swim25:26
Bike2:01:31
Run1:13:13
07 Apr
2
Ironman 70.3 Oceanside24:352:08:421:11:283:48:58
92.3924
03:46:23
92.39
Swim24:35
Bike2:08:42
Run1:11:28
14 Jan
1
Ironman 70.3 Pucon26:512:01:151:16:253:48:44
94.9094
03:47:00
94.91
Swim26:51
Bike2:01:15
Run1:16:25

2017

Points: NaN
Date#RaceSwimBikeRunOverallAITPts
19 Nov
1
Ironman Arizona51:334:12:032:47:157:54:10
99.6483
07:53:55
99.65
Swim51:33
Bike4:12:03
Run2:47:15
14 Oct
2
Ironman Hawaii53:414:14:192:51:538:04:07
110.437
08:11:49
110.44
Swim53:41
Bike4:14:19
Run2:51:53
27 Aug
1
ITU Long Distance40:402:51:121:45:355:20:36
0
-
-
Swim40:40
Bike2:51:12
Run1:45:35
25 Jun
1
Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant26:212:01:531:14:013:46:04
90.8321
03:43:00
90.83
Swim26:21
Bike2:01:53
Run1:14:01
03 Jun
1
Challenge "The Championship" Samorin24:461:56:041:14:213:40:03
108.819
03:43:00
108.82
Swim24:46
Bike1:56:04
Run1:14:21
06 May
2
Ironman 70.3 St. George26:252:01:241:12:193:42:31
111.001
03:46:15
111.00
Swim26:25
Bike2:01:24
Run1:12:19
01 Apr
1
Ironman 70.3 Oceanside25:202:05:421:14:063:50:04
91.4894
03:47:10
91.49
Swim25:20
Bike2:05:42
Run1:14:06
12 Mar
1
Ironman 70.3 Buenos Aires27:191:59:271:13:103:42:47
86.1005
03:38:14
86.10
Swim27:19
Bike1:59:27
Run1:13:10
15 Jan
1
Ironman 70.3 Pucon28:202:09:231:16:374:00:07
90.7101
03:56:49
90.71
Swim28:20
Bike2:09:23
Run1:16:37

2016

Points: NaN
Date#RaceSwimBikeRunOverallAITPts
20 Nov
1
Ironman Arizona53:454:04:382:42:317:44:29
99.8564
07:44:23
99.86
Swim53:45
Bike4:04:38
Run2:42:31
08 Oct
29
Ironman Hawaii56:414:26:353:17:018:44:49
54.2056
08:11:05
54.21
Swim56:41
Bike4:26:35
Run3:17:01
04 Sep
9
Ironman 70.3 World Championship25:412:06:421:10:343:47:14
90.8798
03:44:10
90.88
Swim25:41
Bike2:06:42
Run1:10:34
14 Aug
2
Ironman 70.3 Wiesbaden26:132:20:391:09:204:00:23
80.0533
03:53:24
80.05
Swim26:13
Bike2:20:39
Run1:09:20
17 Jul
2
Ironman 70.3 Racine--:--1:02:481:17:152:20:57
0
-
-
Swim--:--
Bike1:02:48
Run1:17:15
26 Jun
1
Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant26:172:02:291:15:063:47:31
91.9935
03:44:49
91.99
Swim26:17
Bike2:02:29
Run1:15:06
07 May
1
Ironman 70.3 St. George27:392:03:571:13:303:48:18
100.389
03:48:26
100.39
Swim27:39
Bike2:03:57
Run1:13:30
10 Apr
1
Ironman 70.3 Texas26:571:58:091:13:093:40:30
89.5074
03:37:05
89.51
Swim26:57
Bike1:58:09
Run1:13:09
02 Apr
1
Ironman 70.3 Oceanside26:332:07:471:11:423:51:17
86.5216
03:46:42
86.52
Swim26:33
Bike2:07:47
Run1:11:42
31 Jan
1
Ironman 70.3 Panama24:351:55:041:14:473:38:52
83.8819
03:33:42
83.88
Swim24:35
Bike1:55:04
Run1:14:47

2015

Points: NaN
Date#RaceSwimBikeRunOverallAITPts
15 Nov
1
Ironman Arizona54:044:13:382:47:077:58:22
81.4749
07:45:26
81.47
Swim54:04
Bike4:13:38
Run2:47:07
10 Oct
14
Ironman Hawaii1:01:104:35:172:54:418:36:26
72.1625
08:15:44
72.16
Swim1:01:10
Bike4:35:17
Run2:54:41
16 Aug
5
Ironman Mont Tremblant56:274:40:323:00:378:42:13
40.1043
07:59:10
40.10
Swim56:27
Bike4:40:32
Run3:00:37
19 Jul
1
Ironman 70.3 Racine26:212:03:531:15:463:49:41
81.7093
03:43:33
81.71
Swim26:21
Bike2:03:53
Run1:15:46
05 Jul
1
Ironman 70.3 Muskoka27:482:16:081:15:394:02:52
77.1453
03:54:49
77.15
Swim27:48
Bike2:16:08
Run1:15:39
21 Jun
1
Ironman 70.3 Mont Tremblant26:582:03:211:11:143:45:38
89.2417
03:42:03
89.24
Swim26:58
Bike2:03:21
Run1:11:14
16 May
4
Ironman Texas57:194:11:253:11:228:24:54
60.2411
07:56:29
60.24
Swim57:19
Bike4:11:25
Run3:11:22
26 Apr
1
Ironman 70.3 Texas28:232:02:251:12:203:45:39
82.4641
03:39:52
82.46
Swim28:23
Bike2:02:25
Run1:12:20
28 Mar
3
Ironman 70.3 Oceanside26:592:04:461:13:123:49:19
88.6663
03:45:29
88.67
Swim26:59
Bike2:04:46
Run1:13:12

2014

Points: NaN
Date#RaceSwimBikeRunOverallAITPts
01 Nov
1
Ironman Florida--:--4:12:462:44:126:58:46
0
-
-
Swim--:--
Bike4:12:46
Run2:44:12
07 Sep
4
Ironman 70.3 World Championship26:422:04:141:11:213:46:03
88.2453
03:42:08
88.25
Swim26:42
Bike2:04:14
Run1:11:21
01 Jun
2
Ironman 70.3 Raleigh27:342:12:511:09:563:52:47
65.8814
03:41:27
65.88
Swim27:34
Bike2:12:51
Run1:09:56
03 May
18
Ironman 70.3 St. George26:582:12:401:12:183:55:07
62.25
03:42:31
62.25
Swim26:58
Bike2:12:40
Run1:12:18
06 Apr
10
Ironman 70.3 Texas27:382:13:361:12:083:56:19
26.0942
03:32:44
26.09
Swim27:38
Bike2:13:36
Run1:12:08

Ranking per Season

Overall

Year
Points
Pos
2024
89
13
2023
82
32
2022
105
6
2021
100
3
2020
100
5
2019
105
3
2018
110
2
2017
110
1
2016
97
5
2015
88
10
2014
72
31

Swim

Year
Points
Pos
2024
54
178
2023
47
206
2022
68
251
2021
74
145
2020
59
224
2019
60
277
2018
57
294
2017
54
343
2016
38
450
2015
28
463
2014
17
515

Bike

Year
Points
Pos
2024
90
10
2023
85
18
2022
104
2
2021
99
4
2020
106
2
2019
109
1
2018
111
1
2017
111
1
2016
104
2
2015
97
5
2014
76
27

Run

Year
Points
Pos
2024
87
16
2023
82
21
2022
98
13
2021
99
8
2020
84
26
2019
91
19
2018
96
10
2017
93
11
2016
90
15
2015
90
7
2014
83
13
TEST