Lionel Sanders & Sarah Haskins: Your New Ironman 70.3 Pan American PRO Champions (brought to you by Panama)


Eddie Van Halen was the favorite to win the 2016 Ironman 70.3 Pan American Pro Championship in Panama.

Just kidding. And now you probably have “Panama” stuck in your head. #sworry

The promise of $100,000 prize purse and a bushel of points (1500’s a bushel, right?) made for one loaded field. Hopefully they weren’t literally loaded, though. That might not turn out well. Now that all my bad jokes are out of the way, here’s a taste of the lineup: in the men’s field, Matt “Sharkbot” Chrabot, Richie Cunningham, Luke McKenzie, Tim Reed, Lionel “The Grunter” Sanders, Paul Matthews, Jeff “Rhymes with Diamonds” Symonds. In the women’s field, Sarah Haskins, Beth Gerdes, Dede Griesbauer, Lauren Goss, Linsey Corbin, Liz Lyles, and Lisa Roberts. To name just a few.

The Women’s Race

After a 20 minute delay at the swim start (while Andrew Messick ate breakfast?), the athletes were off. A decent current meant that Lauren Brandon still came out of the water first (21:44), but without the sizable advantage that she’s used to – Sarah Haskins, Heather Lendway, and Lauren Goss were all within 10 seconds of her (21:47-:51). Goss, Haskins and Brandon came out of transition 1-2-3, with Dede Griesbauer +2 minutes and the trio of Liz Lyles, Linsey Corbin, and Beth Gerdes +4 minutes.

Happy belated birthday Beth!

Haskins – back from a year of injury and a DNF at Arizona – jumped to the front out of T1 and held a small lead through the first 60k of the bike, with Brandon, Goss, and Lendway sitting 3-10 seconds back. At 66k, Lendway made a gutsy move into the lead and managed to put 1:17 on her competition by the end of the ride. Brandon and Haskins hit T2 10 seconds apart, with Goss in 4th +3:38.

Blame it on the earthquake. #TriExcuse

Lendway held onto her lead through the early miles of the run, but Haskins was closing in on her, while Brandon and Goss initially lost time. Haskins

Kirsty Jahn tearin' it up on the run course. Photo courtesy @RobJahn.

Kirsty Jahn tearin’ it up on the run course. Photo courtesy @RobJahn.

had narrowed the gap to Lendway to 15 seconds by 6km and soon sailed by, gaining a 1:20 advantage by 11km. Lisa Roberts’ run split of 1:22:04 sent her well through the field after coming off the bike with a significant deficit, and Roberts managed to get ahead of Lendway by just 6 seconds to claim 2nd place. Beer-miler-extraordinaire Kirsty Jahn’s 2nd-fastest run split of the day brought her up to 4th place. Linsey Corbin, also on the comeback trail after 2015, nudged her way back up to take 5th. The Laurens’ (Brandon & Goss) swim/bike prowess wasn’t enough in this field of strong runners, leaving them in 6th/7th, respectively.

  1. Sarah Haskins, 4:08:53
  2. Lisa Roberts, 4:10:35
  3. Heather Lendway, 4:10:41
  4. Kirsty Jahn, 4:10:49
  5. Linsey Corbin, 4:12:23

Lisa Roberts, preparing for her silver medal acceptance speech: 

Thankful AND #Blessed, oh my!

The Men’s Race

Teylor Arboleda and Matt Chrabot broke away to come out of the water with a 30 second lead over Paul Matthews, Luke McKenzie, Vinicio Ibarra, Gerardo Vergara, Jeff Symonds, Antony Costes, and Jake Rhyner. Chrabot made it out of transition first, but now with only 3 seconds on McKenzie. He must’ve stopped to put on #socks. Arboleda apparently just showed up for the swim. The top 10 men were all out of T1 within 19 seconds of each other, setting up a tight early bike ride.

Costes cycled in the lead spot through the first 12km, while Reed, McKenzie, Chrabot, Mathews, Symonds, and Pais hung out 30 seconds behind. By the end of lap 1 (of 3), Costes had extended his lead to 1:30 over Reed, Chrabot, McKenzie, Matthews, Pais and Symonds. Lionel Sanders was apparently on the move (and apparently also hasn’t totally fixed his swim) somewhere behind them, bridging up to the 6-man chase pack behind Costes and then blowing by them, with Tim Reed the only man who tried to go with him. Costes was first off the bike, with Sanders just 1 minute behind him, followed a bit later by Reed and Matt Chrabot. Chrabot subsequently dropped out, royally $@&^ing my Fantasy Triathlon team – thanks, buddy (but really, hope you’re ok).

So Lionel didn’t catch Costes on the bike. Before we go over to the run, let’s look at the splits. Sanders: 1:55:04. Costes: 1:57:22. Ridiculously fast cycling in Panama today.

Back to the race: basically, Lionel was running like a bat out of hell. He passed Costes after just a few miles, and had a 56 second lead by 6k – meaning, he gained a minute on Costes in 3km. Sanders continued to put time on the rest of the field, blowing through 17km on roughly 1:15:00 half marathon pace and now a +2:58 lead. That prediction came true, as he split 1:14:47 on his way to the top of the podium in a final time of 3:38:52. Costes held onto second in 3:41:53, followed by Tim Reed and Jeff Symonds (fastest run split in 1:14:32) in a tight race for 3rd/4th.

  1. Lionel Sanders, 3:38:52
  2. Antony Costes, 3:41:53
  3. Tim Reed, 3:44:08
  4. Jeff Symonds, 3:44:20
  5. Oscar Galindez, 3:44:53

Via the ever-helpful Ironman Live: Oh no! We lost Jeff Symonds!!!

The timing mat may have missed Jeff Symonds coming off the bike. We are hoping we can locate him on the run.”

Not quite sure who Jake Rhyner is, but he friended me on Facebook, so I like him. Sorry about your bike, dude.

photo credit: Beautiful Sunrises and Sunsets via photopin (license)

About the Author

Adrienne Taren
Adrienne is a MD/PhD in Neuroscience researching stress, your brain & the neuroscience of mindfulness training. She is also a fairly decent triathlete/runner/writer and an average ultra-distance swimmer, if there is such a thing. Visit her blog: Follow @SeeSpondyRun