Ironman Coeur d'Alene: Records smashed in the heat
By JASON ELLIOTT
COEUR d'ALENE — Eric Long told his son to get him something nice for his 60th birthday Saturday afternoon.
His son, Sam, delivered — albeit a day late — on Sunday afternoon.
Sam Long, 25, cruised to his first Ironman Coeur d'Alene men's title, finishing in 8 hours, 7 minutes and 40 seconds, a new course record for the full 140.3-mile race, which was held annually in Coeur d'Alene starting in 2003, but the full Ironman returned to the Lake City for the first time since 2017.
"Unfortunately, my dad couldn't come," said Long, of Boulder, Colo. "But I'm sure he's glued to his television somewhere watching. He told me before he left to go out and win it for him. He got me into this, not for the triathlon, but just to get outdoors."
Likewise, Carrie Lester, 40, won the women's race in a record time of 8 hours, 54 minutes and 51 seconds.
For Lester, who has now won eight Ironman triathlons, it was a bit of challenge just to get to the starting line.
"I'm 40 and had a career-best year in 2019 before COVID hit," said the Australian-born Lester, who lives in San Diego. "I had good momentum going into 2020 and obviously things changed. I really kind of felt lost, and wondered if I wanted to continue. Each year, it gets harder and harder as you get older. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get to that level again. To be able to do, with the support of my husband, Scott, to be able to put out a performance like that, it was unbelievable."
Winners of the men's and women's races each received $15,000, with $9,000 for second and $7,000 for third. Only the top 10 male and female finishers received money from the $100,000 purse.
Long won in his previous appearance in Coeur d'Alene, finishing as the high amateur in 2015.
"I definitely went a lot faster today," Long said. "I had the same process and mindset. I've just dedicated my life to this in the last six years. I really aligned my priorities, commitments and just focused on racing. I live with my parents in Colorado and it's really gotten me closer to home and the things that are most important to me."
Temperatures reached 101 degrees on Sunday, with the temperature of the pavement measured at 133 degrees before the men's finish.
Justin Metzler finished second in the men's race in 8 hours, 13 minutes and 3 seconds.
"I was pretty locked in most of the time," said Metzler, of Boulder, Colo. "I never really felt the heat until the final loop of the run. I'd moved from third to second starting the third loop, and that was the hardest bit for me. I had an adrenaline boost and thought there was no way I was going to move into second. Once I got around Lionel Sanders (who finished 11th), I felt great. But then I had a bit of a crash and it started to hit me, so it was survival mode to the finish line. I had about a five-minute gap where I knew I just had to hold it together."
Three slots in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii on Oct. 9 were available in both the men's and women's races in Coeur d'Alene. Since Long had already qualified for Kona, the fourth finisher in Coeur d'Alene, Jason Pohl of Calgary, Alberta, earned a berth at Kona, as did third-place finisher Pedro Gomes of Lisbon, Portugal.
"Sam's the No. 1 U.S. athlete and I'm No. 10," Metzler said. "I think Sam put a statement on this season. He's ultra, ultra, world class. For me to be within striking distance of him was amazing. Sam rebounded from a tough Ironman Tulsa and just smashed it today, so big ups to him."
Lester, who is coached by her husband, added it was a team effort to get back into racing again.
"We got each other out the door a lot," Lester said. "We just tried to keep ourselves moving and find a base level of fitness. We've got a good training group in San Diego that really keeps us going. Everyone was struggling after last year, but we were all there for each other and I wouldn't be here if not for them."
The average temperature in Coeur d'Alene ranges between 70 and 79 degrees.
As for the heat, Lester knew it might be a factor.
"There's only curse words to describe it," Lester said. "I knew it was going to be very challenging. I didn't know when I was going to feel that moment of 'wow, it's here.' I didn't feel it until I was on the bike. From there, I was just in survival mode and just wanted to see what happens."
Fenella Langridge of Southampton, England, was second in the women's race in 8 hours, 59 minutes and 50 seconds. It was her first Ironman, ever.
"I think deep down, I didn't know it was possible," Langridge said. "But you never know until you do it. There's so many things that can happen in an Ironman, mistakes and other things, but I just stuck with my plan."
And her plan qualified her for the World Championships in Kona.
"I'm so stoked," Langridge said. "Mentally, it's a lot harder than I thought. You've got to be a little more patient and trust the process a little more than any other race. Physically, I'm going to be in a lot of pain for the next few weeks and going to take it easy. Ironman is not very easy."
Linsey Corbin of Bend, Ore. finished third, picking up the final women's slot in Kona.
Haley Chura of Bozeman, Mont., who won the 2017 and 2018 Ironman 70.3 in Coeur d'Alene, finished fourth in the women's race Sunday.
Heather Jackson of Bend, Ore., who won the full Ironman in Coeur d'Alene in 2015, then the 70.3 event in 2016, did not finish after suffering a flat tire nearly 100 miles into the bike portion of the race.
TOP 10 PROFESSIONALS — 1, Sam Long, Boulder, Colo., 8:07:40. 2, Justin Metzler, Boulder, Colo., 8:13.03. 3, Pedro Gomes, Lisbon, Portugal, 8:17:06. 4, Jason Pohl, Calgary, Alberta, 8:20:57. 5, Matt Russell, Lisbon, N.Y., 8:24.54. 6, Cody Beals, Guelph, Ontario, 8:29:59. 7, Karl-Johan Danielsson, Motala, Sweden, 8:43.49. 8, Tim Rea, Miami, Fla., 8:51:40. 9, Balazs Csoke, Woodlands, Texas, 8:54:42. 10, Tripp Hipple, Denver, Colo., 9:07:38.
TOP 10 PROFESSIONALS — 1, Carrie Lester, San Diego, Calif., 8:54:51. 2, Fenella Langridge, Southampton, England, 8:59:50. 3, Linsey Corbin, Bend, Ore., 9:13:21. 4, Haley Chura, Bozeman, Mont., 9:24:02. 5, Kelly Fillnow, Huntersville, N.C., 9:37:14. 6, Rachel McBride, Canada, 9:40:59. 7, Renee Kiley, Ocean City, N.J., 9:42:28. 8, Lenny Ramsey, Houston, Texas, 9:55:47. 9, Kathryn Morales, Cross Junction, Va., 9:58:36. 10, Fiona Moriarty, Ireland, 9:59:01.