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Lionel Sanders
Canada
World Rank
3
Weight
73kg
Height
1.77m
Age
33
DOB
02/22/88
Swim: BlueseventyBike: CanyonRun: Nike
79%Swim100%Bike96%Run97%Overall
Athletes are measured as a percentage (for each discipline and overall) based on a relative comparison to the #1 ranked athlete who's rated at 100%.
Biography More

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.

Current PTO World Ranking Points
3
2021 IM 70.3 St. George
102.53
Average best 3 races 2019/2020
99.46
Average
101.00
Ranking History
#1#130#259#388#517201420152016201720182019202020212014Overall216.38 pts#31Swim35.51 pts#515Bike153.01 pts#27Run167.32 pts#132015Overall266.15 pts#10Swim57.75 pts#463Bike194.51 pts#5Run180.06 pts#72016Overall292.24 pts#5Swim76.47 pts#450Bike209.88 pts#2Run180.96 pts#152017Overall330.26 pts#1Swim109.71 pts#343Bike223.32 pts#1Run186.45 pts#112018Overall330.26 pts#2Swim114.64 pts#294Bike223.32 pts#1Run192.59 pts#102019Overall316.68 pts#3Swim121.13 pts#277Bike218.65 pts#1Run182.75 pts#192020Overall301.52 pts#5Swim118.93 pts#224Bike213.13 pts#2Run169.65 pts#262021Overall101.00 pts#3Swim60.80 pts#170Bike104.23 pts#1Run95.06 pts#8
Results
53 Races30
1
10
2
1
3
2021
Points: NaN
DatePlaceRace
Swim
Bike
Run
OverallAITPoints
18 Jul
2
Tri Battle
50:58
4:00:26
2:50:31
7:43:30
--
27 Jun
11
IM Coeur d'Alene
52:12
4:22:19
3:53:06
9:11:10
5.04485
08:02:275.04
1 May
1
IM 70.3 St. George
25:00
2:02:55
1:11:03
3:42:55
102.532
03:43:46102.53
11 Apr
1
IM 70.3 Texas
26:35
2:01:43
1:10:51
3:42:00
94.6013
03:40:1394.60
12 Mar
2
Challenge Miami
22:26
1:22:39
53:23
2:40:27
97.0089
02:39:4497.01
2020
Points: NaN
DatePlaceRace
Swim
Bike
Run
OverallAITPoints
6 Dec
4
Challenge Daytona
25:53
1:38:29
59:46
3:06:15
95.9185
03:05:0795.92
2019
Points: NaN
DatePlaceRace
Swim
Bike
Run
OverallAITPoints
14 Dec
1
Challenge Daytona
23:15
1:14:54
42:51
2:23:02
92.7758
02:21:3092.78
8 Dec
1
IM 70.3 Indian Wells - La Quinta
26:37
2:00:48
1:12:31
3:43:37
89.8096
03:40:1589.81
3 Nov
1
IM 70.3 Los Cabos
25:17
2:02:33
1:13:09
3:44:06
108.565
03:47:01108.56
12 Oct
22
IM Hawaii
52:22
4:15:22
3:13:42
8:25:54
68.392
08:03:0068.39
29 Sep
1
IM 70.3 Augusta
23:08
2:03:08
1:12:30
3:42:19
97.0382
03:41:2097.04
18 Aug
2
IM Mont Tremblant
51:48
4:15:12
2:53:58
8:05:38
92.3632
08:00:0892.36
2018
Points: NaN
DatePlaceRace
Swim
Bike
Run
OverallAITPoints
9 Dec
1
IM 70.3 Indian Wells - La Quinta
26:41
2:04:23
--:--
3:45:59
85.5324
03:41:1185.53
13 Oct
28
IM Hawaii
53:59
4:16:58
3:15:26
8:30:34
59.2167
08:01:0859.22
19 Aug
2
IM Mont Tremblant
55:07
4:28:33
2:55:50
8:24:01
76.9179
08:07:0976.92
24 Jun
1
IM 70.3 Mont Tremblant
24:15
2:02:19
1:11:23
3:40:58
101.054
03:41:19101.05
3 Jun
1
Challenge Samorin
29:05
1:58:17
1:10:49
3:43:28
98.7546
03:43:0398.75
5 May
1
IM 70.3 St. George
25:26
2:01:31
1:13:13
3:41:11
107.058
03:43:33107.06
7 Apr
2
IM 70.3 California
24:35
2:08:42
1:11:28
3:48:58
92.3924
03:46:2392.39
14 Jan
1
IM 70.3 Pucon
26:51
2:01:15
1:16:25
3:48:44
94.9094
03:47:0094.91
2017
Points: NaN
DatePlaceRace
Swim
Bike
Run
OverallAITPoints
19 Nov
1
IM Arizona
51:33
4:12:03
2:47:15
7:54:10
99.6483
07:53:5599.65
14 Oct
2
IM Hawaii
53:41
4:14:19
2:51:53
8:04:07
110.437
08:11:49110.44
27 Aug
1
ITU Long Distance
40:40
2:51:12
1:45:35
5:20:36
0
--
25 Jun
1
IM 70.3 Mont Tremblant
26:21
2:01:53
1:14:01
3:46:04
90.8321
03:43:0090.83
3 Jun
1
Challenge Samorin
24:46
1:56:04
1:14:21
3:40:03
108.819
03:43:00108.82
6 May
2
IM 70.3 St. George
26:25
2:01:24
1:12:19
3:42:31
111.001
03:46:15111.00
1 Apr
1
IM 70.3 California
25:20
2:05:42
1:14:06
3:50:04
91.4894
03:47:1091.49
12 Mar
1
IM 70.3 Buenos Aires
27:19
1:59:27
1:13:10
3:42:47
86.1005
03:38:1486.10
15 Jan
1
IM 70.3 Pucon
28:20
2:09:23
1:16:37
4:00:07
90.7101
03:56:4990.71
2016
Points: NaN
DatePlaceRace
Swim
Bike
Run
OverallAITPoints
20 Nov
1
IM Arizona
53:45
4:04:38
2:42:31
7:44:29
99.8564
07:44:2399.86
8 Oct
29
IM Hawaii
56:41
4:26:35
3:17:01
8:44:49
54.2056
08:11:0554.21
4 Sep
9
IM 70.3 World Championship
25:41
2:06:42
1:10:34
3:47:14
90.8798
03:44:1090.88
14 Aug
2
IM 70.3 Wiesbaden
26:13
2:20:39
1:09:20
4:00:23
80.0533
03:53:2480.05
17 Jul
2
IM 70.3 Racine
--:--
1:02:48
1:17:15
2:20:57
0
--
26 Jun
1
IM 70.3 Mont Tremblant
26:17
2:02:29
1:15:06
3:47:31
91.9935
03:44:4991.99
7 May
1
IM 70.3 St. George
27:39
2:03:57
1:13:30
3:48:18
100.389
03:48:26100.39
10 Apr
1
IM 70.3 Texas
26:57
1:58:09
1:13:09
3:40:30
89.5074
03:37:0589.51
2 Apr
1
IM 70.3 California
26:33
2:07:47
1:11:42
3:51:17
86.5216
03:46:4286.52
31 Jan
1
IM 70.3 Panama
24:35
1:55:04
1:14:47
3:38:52
83.8819
03:33:4283.88
2015
Points: NaN
DatePlaceRace
Swim
Bike
Run
OverallAITPoints
15 Nov
1
IM Arizona
54:04
4:13:38
2:47:07
7:58:22
81.4749
07:45:2681.47
10 Oct
14
IM Hawaii
1:01:10
4:35:17
2:54:41
8:36:26
72.1625
08:15:4472.16
16 Aug
5
IM Mont Tremblant
56:27
4:40:32
3:00:37
8:42:13
40.1043
07:59:1040.10
19 Jul
1
IM 70.3 Racine
26:21
2:03:53
1:15:46
3:49:41
81.7093
03:43:3381.71
5 Jul
1
IM 70.3 Muskoka
27:48
2:16:08
1:15:39
4:02:52
77.1453
03:54:4977.15
21 Jun
1
IM 70.3 Mont Tremblant
26:58
2:03:21
1:11:14
3:45:38
89.2417
03:42:0389.24
16 May
4
IM Texas
57:19
4:11:25
3:11:22
8:24:54
60.2411
07:56:2960.24
26 Apr
1
IM 70.3 Texas
28:23
2:02:25
1:12:20
3:45:39
82.4641
03:39:5282.46
28 Mar
3
IM 70.3 California
26:59
2:04:46
1:13:12
3:49:19
88.6663
03:45:2988.67
2014
Points: NaN
DatePlaceRace
Swim
Bike
Run
OverallAITPoints
1 Nov
1
IM Florida
--:--
4:12:46
2:44:12
6:58:46
0
--
7 Sep
4
IM 70.3 World Championship
26:42
2:04:14
1:11:21
3:46:03
88.2453
03:42:0888.25
1 Jun
2
IM 70.3 Raleigh
27:34
2:12:51
1:09:56
3:52:47
65.8814
03:41:2765.88
3 May
18
IM 70.3 St. George
26:58
2:12:40
1:12:18
3:55:07
62.25
03:42:3162.25
6 Apr
10
IM 70.3 Texas
27:38
2:13:36
1:12:08
3:56:19
26.0942
03:32:4426.09
Ranking per Season
Overall
Year
Points
Position
2021
100
3
2020
301
5
2019
316
3
2018
330
2
2017
330
1
2016
292
5
2015
266
10
2014
216
31
Swim
Year
Points
Position
2021
60
170
2020
118
224
2019
121
277
2018
114
294
2017
109
343
2016
76
450
2015
57
463
2014
35
515
Bike
Year
Points
Position
2021
104
1
2020
213
2
2019
218
1
2018
223
1
2017
223
1
2016
209
2
2015
194
5
2014
153
27
Run
Year
Points
Position
2021
95
8
2020
169
26
2019
182
19
2018
192
10
2017
186
11
2016
180
15
2015
180
7
2014
167
13
TEST