By Bill Plock
Colorado was well represented at IRONMAN Florida on Saturday. As the world was learning who our next President was going to be, quite a race in Panama City was unfolding. In the end, it was close, but Boulder’s Chris Leiferman out dueled Matt Hanson (who recently moved to Castle Rock) and Sam Long.
Long led about 2/3 of the way through but fell back and Leiferman came off the bike in the lead a minute ahead of Germany’s Andreas Dietz and six minutes ahead of Long and 10 minutes in front of Hanson.
Leiferman then led the rest of the race but both Hanson and Long significantly closed the gap on the run. Hanson cut nearly 8 minutes into the lead with Long just 29 seconds behind Hanson.
Said Leiferman, “yeah, they were catching up to me, but I’m glad it wasn’t a run race and I had the swim and bike to keep the lead. I have had the worse run build up this year, so knowing where I can go for future races.”
Leiferman finished in 7:52:44, Hanson in 7:55:02 and Long came in third with a 7:55:33. Long became the youngest American to ever finish under eight hours in an IRONMAN.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win any ironman, and it’s a bit more special to win this race after so many months of no racing. I know a few IM’s kicked off early in the year, but the gap in between had kept people hungry for race spectating and I feel that this one was a solid race for anyone to do well at,” said Leiferman.
When asked the key to his win, Leiferman said, “The key was coming out with the right group in the swim and a solid bike. I may have over biked a bit and that’s why my run was the way it was, but I can’t complain since I was able to hold on for the win. Also, the run aid stations were every 2 miles apart, so I had to really focus on taking care of myself on the run and if that meant walking through each aid station (which I did) then that’s what it took to not completely fall apart.”
Sam Long, on Facebook wrote; “Ouch. That hurt. But honestly the race I’m the most proud of ever. I had a massive “hiccup” the last 12 miles of the bike and hemorrhaged time to the leaders. Bonked as well as having some issues with tightness from the flats all day–even had to get off the bike and stretch. Literally limped into transition and thought there was no way I could run and told myself I had to start. Then went deep! And ended up running 2:45 and going 7:55! It was such a battle at the end and that’s what dreams are made out of. Good for 3rd.”
303’s Kenny Withrow was there taking pictures and had this to say, “it was an exciting race to watch as Sam made up a lot of time nearly catching Matt and Chris at the end. It was fun to see Colorado triathletes finish in the top three!” Even though the weather conditions were very favorable, Kenny added, “The aid stations were further apart than usual and not as well equipped with the proper “needs/hydration” (on the run) So it made fueling more difficult for the athletes.”
A few days before the race 303Endurance interviewed Chris and listen here to learn his thoughts before the race and his thoughts on the upcoming race in Daytona. Podcast link HERE