PUERTO PRINCESA City – Eight-hundred-ninety-eight intrepid triathletes set out for an exacting test of physical endurance and mental strength in the IRONMAN 70.3 Puerto Princesa here today (Sunday), all seeking to summon their last reserves in the closing run stage in pursuit of triathlon glory.
With the current in the opening swim leg of the 1.9 km swim-90km bike-21k run event at a manageable level, one’s title bid – both in the overall individual and in various age-group categories – could hinge on the tri-sports’ “bike for show, run for dough” mantra due to the decisive part it generally has in the outcome of each endurance race.
“On the bike, it’s difficult to know because it’s (course) looping. So, I think the chase is on the run,” said race director Neville Manaois. “But we will have a very fast, challenging race.”
It will indeed be a rush and doubly inspiring as the host city, through Mayor Lucilo Bayron, has upped the ante, putting up an additional P150,000 each for the fastest overall male and female in the blue-ribbon event organized by the IRONMAN Group/Sunrise Events, Inc. kicking off at Puerto Princesa Baywalk Park and ending at the Ramon Mitra Jr. Sports Complex.
Reagan Nabua and John Alcala, who placed third in the IM 70.3 Subic last March and in IM 70.3 Cebu last August, respectively, headline the cast in the men’s side that includes bets from 25 other countries with focus also on Melvin Santiago, the first Filipino to cross the finish line in the IM World Championship in Kona, Hawaii recently, and Fer Casares, a two-time SEA Games gold medalist and the first Filipino to successfully complete a World Cup event.
Also expected to crowd the fancied bets are Jailani Lalama, Abdul Toroganan, Yoejan Prudente, Mervin Santiago and Bohol 5150 champion Satar Salem, along with other bets from the US, Hong Kong, Guam, Singapore, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, India and Japan.
The battle in the women’s side is also tipped to be fierce and furious with Chery Auto PH Tri Team’s Alessandra Castaneda, the fastest Filipina in the IM 70.3 World Championship in St. George, Utah last month, and this year’s two-time 5150 champion Bea Quiambao of the Next Step Tri team leading the chase along with Charlotte Jackson of FIT PH, Kath Lagunsad of Sante Barley Tri Team, Trinics’ Adah Valena and Bernadeth Bisoc of Judiciary Tri Team.
Claire Adorna, a two-time SEAG gold and silver medalist, will vie in the women’s relay under the AFP Tri Team that also includes Jennifer Padallan and Jermyn Prado, while Mary Jane Baluyot of Century Tuna TriHard, Nylah Bautista, Leilani Tan of Jumpstart Tri team under Patrick Joson, and Celma Hitalia compete in the 35-39, 45-49, 50-54 and 55-59 brackets, respectively.
Hundreds more are vying for top honors in the men’s and women’s relay and relay mixed.
First-time host Puerto Princesa, hailed as the world’s most desirable island in the recent 21st Wanderlust Travel Awards in London, has guaranteed a memorable racing experience for both local and foreign participants with the City in the Forest boasting a number of world-class natural attractions.
The event also caps the tri-sports’ return to the mainstream after a two-year hiatus with the SEI staging two events in Subic, including a full IRONMAN and 70.3 last March and 5150 last month, in Davao, Bohol and Cebu.
“Puerto Princesa’s first-time hosting of the IRONMAN fittingly caps our season-long calendar of endurance racing,” said SEI president/general manager Princess Galura, hinting at a continued partnership with the city in future IRONMAN staging.
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The IM 70.3 rolling start kicks off at 6:25 a.m. at the Puerto Princesa Baywalk Park with participants to swim out for 700m then make a left for the next 300m and another left for the last 900m to complete the 1.9km opening leg.
Backed by Active, Athletic Brewing Co., Breitling, Fulgaz, Gatorade, Hoka Fly Human Fly, Hyperice, Qatar Airways, ROKA, Santini, Vinfast, Wahoo, the event also features triathletes from Brazil, Thailand, the Netherlands, South Africa, Vietnam, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Turkey, Korea, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Saint Lucia and Guatemala.
Other sponsors are Always Advancing, Compressport, Ekoi, Outside, Sportograf.com, along with event partners Alaska, Lightwater, Prudential Guarantee, Rudy Project, Santé, One Sport, Cignal and The Philippine Star while the event’s official hotels are Alvea Puerto Princesa, Costa Palawan Resort, Fersal Hotel, Go Hotels, Hotel Centro, HUE Hotel and Resorts, Jeamco Royal Hotel, Princesa Garden Island Resort and Spa and Sunlight Hotel Puerto Princesa.