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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Alcala, Benedicto seek top finishes as IRONMAN, 70.3 unfold

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The IRONMAN Philippines and the IM 70.3 Subic Bay take place today (Sunday, June 10) at the Subic Bay Boardwalk with John Dedeus Alcala, a prominent figure in the triathlon community, the focal point as he steps up to compete in a more demanding test of endurance and patience.

Alcala, who has triumphed in top half-triathlon races in Palawan and Subic over the past two years, now leads a determined group of Filipino athletes against a formidable lineup of international competitors in the fourth staging of the full-distance IRONMAN. The race encompasses a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride, and 42.2km run on a world-class championship course.

The weather forecast of cloudy skies with thundershowers both in the morning and afternoon adds an extra layer of difficulty for the hundreds of racers vying not only for top honors but also for slots in the World Championships. Despite the challenging conditions, the water is expected to remain flat and calm during the swim leg, offering competitors an opportunity to gain momentum before tackling the grueling bike and run stages.

Among the notable competitors is August Benedicto, who aims to deliver a strong performance in the 11th edition of the IM 70.3 race, which includes a 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride, and 21.1km run. Benedicto, a native of Tarlac now based in Ireland, seeks to replicate his 2022 victory in Cebu despite facing stiff competition from international athletes.

“I’m thrilled to compete here, even though I’m now based in Ireland,” said Benedicto. He also expressed his gratitude to the IRONMAN organizers for hosting such a well-organized race.

Both Alcala and Benedicto have been rigorously training and are determined to excel in their respective events, which test endurance, strength and strategy. Their participation is highly anticipated, with fans and fellow competitors eager to see how they perform against a strong field of international contenders.

Representing 54 countries, the participants in both the full IRONMAN and IM 70.3 highlight the events’ global appeal, with Subic Bay reaffirming its status as the Philippines’ triathlon hub due to its top-tier course and exceptional hosting by The IRONMAN Group.

The IRONMAN and IM 70.3 age group rolling starts kick off at 5:45 a.m., with the swim cutoff time set at 70 minutes from the last athlete’s start. The bike and run stages have cutoff times of 5 hours and 30 minutes and 8 hours and 30 minutes, respectively.

The women’s competition across various age categories, including 18-24, 25-29, 30-34, and 35-39, also promises to be intense. Competitors like Sarah Erañ, Maryfel Aumentado, and Anne Nuñez are set for the full IRONMAN challenge, while Kath Lagunsad, Maypette Ng, Jamiya Mendoza, and Audrey Reodica are strong contenders in the 70.3 race.

Multi-titled Ines Santiago will participate in the relay event with her Herbalife team, opting out of individual competitions this year.

Alcala, who triumphed in the inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Puerto Princesa in 2022, demonstrated remarkable resilience against harsh weather conditions during last year’s IM 70.3 Subic. This year, he faces a tougher challenge, notably from 2022 champion Czech contender Petr Lukosz, who made history by breaking the 10-hour barrier with a 09:52:34 finish in Asia’s first post-pandemic IRONMAN race.

Despite missing out on his age-group category in the recent IRONMAN 70.3 Cebu, Lukosz remains a top contender in the full-distance race.

“It’s all about dreams. I still have a dream to do full IRONMAN sub 9 hours. I came three minutes short in Arizona,” said Lukosz. “And I told my wife that I will try one day to be in Top 10 in Kona in my age group.”

Aspiring athletes are motivated by the potential to qualify for three world championships, with the top 25 male triathletes from the full IRONMAN earning spots in the Kona, Hawaii World Championship from Oct. 22-28. The top 15 female athletes will qualify for the IM World Championship in Nice, France, from Sept. 24-28.

The IM 70.3 Subic Bay offers 45 age-group qualifying slots for the Vinfast IM 70.3 World Championship in Taupo, New Zealand, on Dec. 14-15, with 15 slots reserved for female participants to promote gender equality.

“We chose Subic as the venue for the full IRONMAN because of its idyllic conditions – smooth paved roads, a calm swim and a bike course that is both relaxing and challenging,” said Greg Banzon, executive vice president and COO of Century Pacific Food, Inc.  Century Pacific Food, Inc. “To all participants, this event is a testament to your commitment and unwavering resilience in challenging yourself and breaking your own boundaries.”

This dynamic weekend of events is backed by Century Tuna, Subic Bay, Vinfast, HOKA, ROKA, Breitling 1884, Athletic Brewing Co., Hyperice, Maurten, Santini, AG1, Wahoo, Qatar Airways, Fulgaz, TriDot, Always Advancing, Nirvana, Compressport, EKOI, Outside, 2Go, Birch Tree, ION Advanced Electrolyte Drink, Lightwater, NLEX, SCTEX, NLEX Connector, One Sport, Cignal, Santé, Sportograf.com, Teresa Marble, and The Philippine Star.

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