No Category selected IRONMANIA WEEK: Men to Watch

    IRONMANIA WEEK: Men to Watch


    By Barrie Shepley

    We’ve sized up the amazing female line up for this year’s Ironman World Championships…let’s move on to the men! This year’s competition is exceptional.

    Never in Canada’s history have there been a deeper Canadian men & women’s pro team at the Hawaii Ironman. When Peter Reid won his races, there was no second Canadian man (now there are three with Bren McMahon, Jeff Symonds and Lionel Sanders all as legitimate top 10 threats). The 2015 Hawaii Ironman Canadian Pros include he three men mentioned and Heather Wurtele and Angela Naeth. All five Canadians have won an Ironman in the last 18 months, but Hawaii is a new experience with only Heather Wurteele having previously raced in Kona (the other four our first timers in Hawaii).

    Germany 1-2 Punch

    Last year Sebastian Kienle won the Hawaii Ironman and his German Team-mate Jan Frodeno (Olympic Gold Medalist in Beijing) was third. This year Jan set a new course record winning Ironman Germany in July, and won the Wold 70.3 Champs in Austria in Sept (both victories over Kienle). Both men know how to win, are world class in every aspect and have the ability to dictate the pace all day long.  Experts are giving Jan Frodeno the slight nod as the 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist seems to have the extra gear and determination this year to win it all.  If that’s not bad enough the German’s have a third man Nils Fromhold who won Roth Ironman in July and is more than capable of being on the podium if anyone falters. How do you beat the Germans?  They have won 5 Ironman men’s titles in Kona.


    USA’s 1-2 Hoffman & Potts

    Its been 13 years since American Tim DeBoom last  won their home-race and Ben Hoffman was very close last year with a 2nd place and Andy Potts a close 4th.  Both men have had fantastic summers of racing and are poised to try to break the German domination in Kona that seems to be occurring.  Potts will be out of the water in the top 3, and will stay near the front all day long.  He is a very good runner, but will have to find one more gear on the run if he or Ben Hoffman want to win Kona this year.  Expect to see at least one American if not two in the top 10 by the end of the day.

    Europeans to be Concerned About

    Belgium’s Fredric Van Leidre is a past Hawaii Ironman Champion (2013) and has had an incredible year of training in 2015. Having won the race he knows what it takes and he’s been able to be under the radar off the media this year with all eyes on the Germans. If anyone makes a mistake he can win the race and expect him to be a major factor on the bike course. Belgium’s other superstar Marino Vanhoenacker has some of the fastest times ever for an Ironman (sub 7hrs 50minutes) in Austria and won Ironman Canada in record time as well. He has done everything there is to do in the sport except excel at Kona. Last year he ended up walking a 4hr 31 minute marathon in Kona. The very hot, humid conditions seem to zap his running legs. Last year he said he said he would never come back but we see his name on the race list and some of his supporters believe he is so close to the end of his career he is here to take one more big-shot at trying to win it all.




    The youngest of the Canadian men, much has been written about Lionel Sanders.  A great high school runner, he strayed into drugs and depression and a near suicide attempt before he found the Ironman and has directed all his passion into training and racing.  Sanders won his first Ironman in Florida last year by nearly 20 minutes running a 2hr 43 minute marathon.  He was 4th at the 2014 World 70.3 Championships and won four Ironman 70.3 races this year including beating Andy Potts and Ben Hoffman.  Sanders has struggled this year on both of his Ironman races with improper pacing and nutirtion / feeding and has spent a lot of time trying to improve that aspect.  As a weak swimmer, very few men are likely to be behind Lionel out of the water and he will have to be disciplined all day long as he chases the top 15 mien who will be riding in one long bike chain on the 112 mile bike ride.


    Sanders has some of the fastest run splits in triathlon history and two years ago ran the famous 30km Around the Bay Road Race in Hamilton and came 3rd to an elite Kenyan field with a 1hr 36min 30km run split.   Sanders has the tools and toughness to be a major threat on Oct 10th, but he will have to ensure he races his race to the utmost to have the kind of world class performance his many fans wold love to see.

    (Check out Lionel Sanders’ Story in the Toronto Star:



    Victoria’s Brent McMahon has the complete package. He won medals for Canada as a junior athlete, and has been to two Olympic Games as a team-mate of Simon Whitfield. He has won medals for Canada at the Pan Am Games and numerous titles around the world. But ti wasn’t until he moved up to 70.3 and Ironman racing that he truly distinguished himself.  Brent is the only man in the world who BOTH of his first two ironman races were sub 8hours (a truly incredible feat). A victory at Ironman Arizona and a silver in Brazil has Brent well prepared to be a legitimate threat to win Kona.  While its his first time in Hawaii, he has 15 years of race experience and his ITU swim speed means he will come out of the water with the top pro men on Oct 10th. Brent’s only flaw is that he has occasionally struggled in the heat and humidity (two things that Kona is famous for). With age, speed and two sub 8 hour Ironman races under his belt, he is a real threat to go for the podium and USA magazine have him as their 4th man in the field.


    jeffsymondsJeff Symonds is one of the true spectacular runners in the sport. He won Ironman Australia in March over an interventional field with a 2hr 42 minute marathon. He is a former bronze medalist in the 70.3 World Championships and loves to “RUN UGLY” as is his famous saying. He is tough as nails, humble and does the work to be a champion. Expect Jeff to be somewhere behind Brent McMahon’s top swim and Lionel Sanders near the back of the pack swim to start the day. While Jeff can ride as well as anyone in the sport, its likely he will put in a controlled  ride to ensure he has enough in his legs to try to run another very low 2hr 40 min marathon. If he runs that fast, he could be on the podium and perhaps even on the top.

    What men are you going to be cheering for this Saturday at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii!?