Hamiltonian Lionel Sanders crossed the finish line five minutes ahead of second place finisher Andrew Bolton from Richmond Hill to claim the Toronto Triathlon Festival last weekend (July 21).
“I raced hard right to the finish, regardless of where my fellow competitors were. I had intense shivers down my spine as I rounded the corner of the finish and saw the finishing tape was still up,” said Sanders.
Lionel Sanders breaking the tape at the Toronto Triathlon Festival 2013 (Photo: Tommy Ferris/Ignition Fitness)
Sanders is a Harrow, Ont., native who moved to Hamilton to pursue triathlon at the elite level. The Steel City is a hotbed for multi-sport development, and Sanders has now competed in almost every format, distance and level of triathlon and duathlon – from Sprint to Ironman.
Last year he won both the U.S., and Canadian National Duathlon championships while attending school full-time at McMaster University.
Not only is he committed to developing superb athletes, but more importantly, he endeavors to cultivate a love of sport and active living both by example and through his coaching. In addition to his training, school and racing, Sanders coaches the Hammerheads Youth Triathlon Team and shares his passion and knowledge with young triathletes.
“Last year the Duathlon at TTF was my “A” race of the season. Unfortunately, due to a sign error I ran 3k longer than I had to in the second run. When I came around the corner of the finish I discovered someone had beaten me to the line,” recalled Sanders.
“I had many family and friends watching and so I was devastated when I did not get to run through the finishing banner. Eventually the race organizers realized an error had occurred and overturned the results making me national champion, but this was extremely unsatisfying.
“I have been training for a year with this race in mind. I was determined to be the one to break the tape. The morning of the race I recalled the experience from last year and tried to keep it close at all times. When I saw that tape, I made sure to raise my arms high, not only for last year, but because this race signified to me that I am finally starting to become competitive in triathlons and not just duathlons. Overall it was a great experience.”
Sanders is an aspiring Olympian who hopes to compete for the Ironman World Championship title. In the immediate future, he has his sights set on winning the Elite Duathlon World Championship.
Toronto’s annual Festival takes over the downtown core and is a favorite amongst triathletes. It’s a unique event on the North American triathlon circuit. The urban race route takes participants on a unique path along Toronto’s harbour front and through the city’s downtown core.