Purchase photos

Hays man qualifies for world championship





Bob Sanderson, who was scheduled to compete in his first IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship triathlon today at Lake Las Vegas in Henderson, Nev., had some goals in mind.

Sanderson, 64, wanted to run a personal best time and have a top-10 finish in his age division at the 70.3 mile-triathlon, which consists of swimming 1.2 miles, riding a bike 56 miles, then finishing up by running a half-marathon of 13.1 miles.

"That will be pretty hard to do," he said of a personal best time. "From what I understand, it's one of the hardest courses in North America."

After making the World Championship in the 70.3-mile race, Sanderson is wondering if he should try a full Ironman triathlon, twice the length of today's event.

"I'm thinking about the full Ironman, which is 140.6 miles," Sanderson said. "But right now I still haven't convinced myself psychologically that I want to do it yet. That's quite a graduation, that long distance."

Sanderson, who works as a chemical analyst for Enersys, figures he has run about 100 long-distance races since he started competing in triathlons in 2008 after retiring from serving 31 years in the military.

"It was just a personal challenge," Sanderson said of the races, adding he also enjoys the camaraderie with other competitors who also live in Hays.

Sanderson trains eight months out of a year, and he was running in the searing Kansas heat for the last week to prepare for today's race.

"The last seven days, I've been training in Hays at peak temperature," Sanderson said last week. "Hopefully, that gets me ready."

Sanderson said a runner qualifies for the World Championship by winning an age division or finishing near the top; a certain percentage of competitors advance.

"The lower number in an age group, the better chance you have of qualifying," Sanderson said.

Sanderson said there were approximately 35 competitors in his age division.

"I think competition is going to be very stiff," he said.

Sanderson said competing in triathlons makes him feel younger than his 64 years.

"Yes, it does," he said with a laugh. "It really does."