The spectacular race Ironman 70.3 kicked off on Mactan Island on Saturday, with former champions competing alongside other triathletes from around the world.
Mayor Junard “Ahong” Chan welcomed on Friday evening the 2,300 triathlon enthusiasts from 57 countries who will battle in three courses – swimming, biking, and running around the tourist island of Mactan – during the carbo-loading event in Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa in Punta Engaño village here, to mark the start of the Regent Aguila Ironman 70.3.
Princess Galura, organizing team member of the Ironman group, said the Pro champion of this sporting event will receive USD25,000, adding that 60 slots are up for grabs for the 2020 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Taupo, New Zealand. This event is in its eighth year.
“As we continue to grow year after year, we are thrilled to kick off one of the biggest Ironman 70.3 in Cebu, yet,” Galura, general manager of Sunrise Events, Inc., organizing group of Ironman, said in a statement sent to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
Mactan Island is dubbed “Kona-esk”, highlighting the similarities in atmosphere, wind, and heat of the Regent Aguila Ironman 70.3 course to that of Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.
Geoff Meyer, chief executive officer of the World Triathlon Corp. for Asia Pacific, encouraged triathletes to compete in Ironman 70.3 on Mactan Island before training for the Kona event. “If you want to race Kona, do this race,” Meyer said.
The race started in the pristine waters of Shangri-La Mactan beach, and triathletes will do a 1.9-km. point-to-point, ending at the Shangri-La Boat Ramp leading to the transition area.
After the transition, participants take the road passing through Mactan Newtown and proceed to an imposing, yet considerable climb through the Marcelo Fernan Bridge.
The 180-km. bike ride takes participants on a scenic view of Cebu, Mandaue, and Talisay. This year, the bike course is back at the long and imposing South Reclamation Property (SRP) Road, where headwinds and crosswinds mimic that of Kona.
From transition, participants take a double loop 21-km. run around generally flat terrain of mixed asphalt and concrete roads of Punta Engaño, and back to the finish line at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa.
This month’s Ironman event in Cebu is expected to present a spectacular match among triathletes, with former champions Tim Reed, Mauricio Mendez, and Caroline Steffen leading the tight race.
Reed, an Australian professional triathlete and two-time Asia-Pacific champion, underscored the support of the people watching the race while they compete with each other in three courses.
“Despite the heat and humidity, one couldn’t stop smiling the entire way (of the race) because of the absolutely crazy support out on the course. The bike course is lined five to six people deep while the half marathon is an audiovisual sensory overload of music, dancing and thousands of screaming people,” Reed said.
Mendez counted the Cebu event as among the highlights of sports races that he joined. “If I would rate this race, this is among the top three races of my life. I don’t know how to describe how happy I am,” said Mendez, Mexican Pro-Triathlete and defending champion.
According to the statement, Mendez “finished second in the 2017 edition of the annual event then came back strong to nail the crown last year.”
“Former champions Mendez and Reed are out to re-stamp their class, and fellow Aussies Tim van Berkel, Luke McKenzie, Mitch Robins, Lindsey Lawry, and Justin Ghosh, Czech Jakub Langhammer, Eric Watson of Bahrain and Terenzo Bozzone of New Zealand are all primed up to spoil Mendez’s back-to-back title drive in the keenly awaited championship,” the statement said. (PNA)