Steffen, Reed Win the 2015 Cobra IM703 Championship Title

The Ironman PROs

Cobra Ironman 70.0 Philippines Pro Champions Caroline Steffen and Tim Reed. Photo by Jamil Buergo

2015 #CobraIronman703 Pro Champions Caroline Steffen and Tim Reed. Photo by Jamil Buergo

Swiss Miss Caroline Steffen took home her fourth Cobra Ironman 70.3 championship title on August 2, 2015, in Mactan, Cebu.

Alaska Tri-Aspire’s Pro triathlete Caroline Steffen, who goes by the monicker Xena, proved her being a warrior princess as she led the women’s Pro category in the swim leg. And despite having a broken chain and a bike crash, the crowd saw her in her running perfect form to land her in the top spot.

From his recent winning at the 5i50 in early this year held in Subic, Australian Tim Reed battled it out with his contemporaries in the men’s Pro to win his first Cobra Ironman 70.3 championship title.

The festive beach front of the Mactan Shangri-La on an early Sunday morning teemed with triathlon Pros, Filipino Elites, age groupers, relay participants and spectators from all corners of the country and across the globe. Vintas donned with colourful banderitas line up along the designated swim course. As the excitement crept up, the Pros took off followed by the Filipino Elites. Age groupers and relay participants seeded themselves in their respective swim time finish of the 1.9km swim course.

Defending champion Brent McMahon made it first off the swim to the transition followed Reed and Tim Van Berkel. The 90-kilometre bike course was a close competition among the top three contenders. As the race progressed, the speeding bikes coursed through the four cities namely Talisay, Mandaue, Cebu and Lapu-Lapu, with Reed taking over the lead with Van Berkel close behind. McMahon trailing on the third spot. Steffen held strong on her lead. Approaching the 40th kilometre, 15 times Ironman Champion Belinda Granger was a few metres behind. Soon, she gained her lead back putting Granger on the second spot, with Dimity-Lee Duke catching up; Kathryn Haesner, Beth Gerdes and Carole pedalling for the fourth, fifth and sixth spots.

2015 Cobra IM703 Philippines Finisher's medal designed by Kenneth Cobonpue.

2015 #CobraIronman703 Finisher’s medal designed by Kenneth Cobonpue.

From transition area to the run course, the endless queue of spectators filled the sides of Punta Engano Rd. where the final leg of the race was taking place. It’s a two-loop course of the 21 kilometre run with a turn around point at the Discovery Bay with the scenic seaside as the backdrop. Loud cheers emanated from the crowd as Pros and Elites covered each kilometre of the course. It was the most festive leg of the race as there are several cheer dancers donned in colourful attires performing their routines.

The male Pros pounded each kilometre of the road towards the finish line. The eventual champion, Tim Reed made made the top podium in 3:46:03, 2 seconds ahead of second placer Tim Van Berkel (3:46:05). Brent McMahon slipped into the third spot (3:50:23), followed by Mitch Robbins on the fourth place (3:55:20). World Champion Crowie Alexander completed the roster of the male Pro champions (3:57:11).

Caroline Steffen made an impressive finish (4:23:54) by winning her fourth championship title. Beth Gerdes slipped into the second spot (4:29:07) past the third placer Dimity-Lee Duke (4:29:36), Kathryn Haesner made it to the fourth spot (4:32:15). Belinda Granger gracefully retired from competitive racing as she reached the finish line for the fifth spot (4:42:00). Carole Fuchs completes the line up of the female Pro champions (4:43:39).

With Jamie Jacobs, my favourite IM Champion Belinda Granger, Pete Jacobs and Justin Granger at the Cobra IM703 finishers' lounge.

With Jamie Jacobs, my favourite IM Champion Belinda Granger, Pete Jacobs and Justin Granger at the #CobraIronman703 finishers’ lounge.

The Filipino Elites

While the Pros battled for the top spot in their category, our Filipino Elites did not flicker as they boldly raced for supremacy amongst themselves in the 70.3 mile distance.

August Benedicto of Team Unilab bagged the top spot (4:28:36), Team Ford Forza’s John Philip Duenas came in second (4:28:42), and Alaska Tri-Aspire’s Banjo Norte made the triumvirate of the local male champions complete (4:29:05). Always regarded as the fastest Filipina triathlete, Monica Torres towered over her female contemporaries (4:39:37) with a 13-minute lead against the second placer Maria Hodges (4:53:09). LC Langit made it to the third spot in 5:05:30.


The annual Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines is the most anticipated sports and tourism event in the country, especially in Cebu as not only the Pros, Filipino Elites and CEOs partake to compete but also age groupers and celebrity triathletes join in the individual and relay categories. Matteo Guidicelli and Piolo Pascual were a total crowd drawer as loud screams echoed everytime they pass.

Giorgia Guidicelli at the run leg turn around point. #CobraIM703Ph

Giorgia Guidicelli at the run leg turn around point. #CobraIronman703

I positioned myself at the 18th kilometre mark at the first pass, which was right next to the tunnel heading towards Plaza Independencia. As I busied myself with the live updates of the ongoing race, here comes Matteo Guidicelli coming off the tunnel who first recognised me and called my attention. And to think that I’ve known him and his family for only a few months! Later that afternoon, he shared that he felt good during the swim and bike legs, however, it was rather challenging for him during the run leg. His equally athletic sibling,Giorgia, remained tough and strong despite the increasing temperature when I spotted her at the turn around point. Giorgia made her second podium finish in a 70.3 race.

The event concluded with the awarding ceremony held at the golf course area of the Shangri-La, Mactan. As the event wrapped up, it was announced that the Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific World Championship will be hosted by Cebu in 2016!

The finisher’s medal and winner’s trophy was designed by world-renowned designer Kenneth Cobonpue.

For complete race results, please visit: 2015 Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippine Results

Congratulations to the winners and finishers!

For race updates, like Cobra Ironman 70.3 on Facebook: Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines
Twitter: @CobraIronMan703
Instagram: @cobraironman703/

Registration for the Cobra Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship 2016 opens on October 1, 2015, 8am (Manila Time, GMT+8). Log on to

See you all in 2016!

Steffen, Atkinson Dominate the 2013 Cobra Energy Drink IronMan 70.3 Philippines

2013 Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines WPro and MPro Champions Caroline Steffen and Courtney Atkinson

2013 Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines WPro and MPro Champions Caroline Steffen and Courtney Atkinson

It’s a run away win for both the Alaska Team TBB’s Caroline Steffen and the Australian Courtney Atkinson who took the 2013 Cobra Energy Drink IronMan 70.3 Philippines WPro and MPro Division top spots by storm. 

Caroline Steffen clocked in at 04:16:12, crossing the finish line with an 11 minute lead against the second placer Bree Wee, while Courtney Atkinson finished off the race in 03:58:07, with just a little over a minute lead from the 2012 Champion Pete Jacobs.

The swim start was literally bumpy due to heavy rains and winds the entire night prior to the race. The inclement weather that Sunday morning of August 4 did not deter the strong – willed champs, Filipino elites, age groupers and celebrity triathletes from taking on the challenge of the much awaited IronMan 70.3 Philippines. Coming to the race venue, a lot of them had to be on foot because of the traffic build up leading to Shangri – La Mactan. 

In the Photo (from left): WTC CEO Andrew Messick,2nd Place Bree Wee, 5th Place Monica Torres, Champ Caroline Steffen, 4th Place Jacqui Slack, 3rd Place Belinda Granger; Lapu Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza, SEI CEO Fred Uytengsu & Cobra Energy Drink Brand Mgr. Jeff Mendoza

In the Photo (from left): WTC CEO Andrew Messick,2nd Place Bree Wee, 5th Place Monica Torres, Champ Caroline Steffen, 4th Place Jacqui Slack, 3rd Place Belinda Granger; Lapu Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza, SEI CEO Fred Uytengsu & Cobra Energy Drink Brand Mgr. Jeff Mendoza

Coming off from the swim course, the windy bike ride may have been a challenge for the racing champs because of wind resistance, but Atkinson made his first U – turn at the 29th kilometre way ahead of the other pros. The second pack of racers included Pete Jacobs, Chris McCormack, Brent McMahon, David Dellow, Josh Rix, Anthony Devos, Ben Allen, and Frederik Croneberg. The powerful quads of Steffen were all she needed to make the great lead on from her contemporaries. She was in the third pack of racers, who were all males. She was indeed living up to her monicker, Xena. Racing up on the second spot was Bree Wee, followed by Belinda Granger, Jacqui Slack and Philippines’ Monica Torres, who was competing in her first ever 70.3 as a Pro. The 90-kilometre bike ride transitioned to the 21 kilometre run course along the Punta Engaño Road. 

In the Photo (from left): WTC CEO Andrew Messick, 2nd Place Pete Jacobs, 5th Place Brent McMahon, Champ Courtney Atkinson, 4th Place Chris McCormack, 3rd Place David Dellow; Lapu Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza, SEI CEO Fred Uytengsu & Cobra Energy Drink Brand Mgr. Jeff Mendoza

In the Photo (from left): WTC CEO Andrew Messick, 2nd Place Pete Jacobs, 5th Place Brent McMahon, Champ Courtney Atkinson, 4th Place Chris McCormack, 3rd Place David Dellow; Lapu Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza, SEI CEO Fred Uytengsu & Cobra Energy Drink Brand Mgr. Jeff Mendoza

All participants had to make a couple of loops to complete the run course. Courtney Atkinson consistently held his position in the top spot after completing his second U – turn, up to the finish line. Catching up for the second place was Pete Jacobs, Alaska Team TBB’s David Dellow ended up on the third spot, followed by Chris McCormack and Brent McMahon for the fourth and fifth places, respectively. Caroline Steffen remained strong maintaining her lead among the WPros, and even gave Jenny Rose Guerrero, Alaska Team TBB’s Filipino WElite, a little push at some point along the run course. Bree Wee locked in on her second spot. And even while on the race, she gave one participant who was already walking some boost by telling him to keep going. Belinda Granger was also holding on to the third spot, with Jacqui Slack and Monica Torres taking the fourth and fifth spots, respectively. Each of them maintaining a significant lead from the other.

Filipino Elites

Filipino WElite 2nd Place Jenny Guerrero and Filipino MElite Champion Banjo Norte (rightmost), with Alaska Team TBB Manager Alex Bok (middle)

Filipino WElite 2nd Place Jenny Guerrero and Filipino MElite Champion Banjo Norte (rightmost), with Alaska Team TBB Manager Alex Bok (middle)

Despite being relatively new in the Filipino Elite Men’s category, Banjo Norte of Alaska Team TBB clocked in at 04:26:44, beating the more seasoned Filipino triathletes – 2012 Champion August Benedicto, and John Phillip Duenas, with a finish time of 04:32:38 and 04:33:18, respectively. 

Among the Filipino Women Elite, Allesandra Araullo – Gonzalez emerged as the top finisher with a time of 05:05:33. Taking the second place was Jenny Rose Guerrero, crossing the finish line in 05:20:02. Ani de Leon – Brown filled the third spot with a finish time of 05:22:43. 

Alasaka Team TBB

Alaska Team TBB, which was formed in 2012, was well represented in both the Pro and Filipino Elite categories. The Pros category was participated in by Caroline Steffen, David Dellow and resident coach Matt O’Halloran while the Filipino Elite was joined in by Jenny Guerrero, Dhill Anderson Lee and Banjo Norte.

Coach Matt is proud of the protegés for standing out among their contemporaries. Though not winning any spot in the Filipino Elite category, Dhill Anderson Lee won the Swim Time bonus, and he is set to work more on his runs. Jenny shared that she was already on the verge of giving up and would already wanted to walk during the last leg of the race. Teary – eyed, she shared, “My family was my motivation to keep going.” And her perseverance really paid off.

Banjo Norte, on his first IronMan podium finish, was “really grateful for all the children who lined up along the streets cheering for the triathletes.”

Alaska Team TBB (from left): Professional Triathlete and Coach Matt O'Halloran, David Dellow, Caroline Steffen, Filipino Elites Banjo Norte, Dhill Anderson Lee & Jenny Guerrero

Alaska Team TBB (from left): Professional Triathlete and Coach Matt O’Halloran, David Dellow, Caroline Steffen, Filipino Elites Banjo Norte, Dhill Anderson Lee & Jenny Guerrero

World-famous and the Philippines’ pride of The Black Eyed Peas participated in this year’s Ironman 70.3 Philippines, who competed with his relay team. Though considered as legally blind (in US standards), he went out to show that physical challenges can’t stop a person from achieving his dreams. Other celebrities who participated in the event were Piolo Pascual, Matteo Guidicelli, Isabelle Daza, Erwan Heusaff, and Drew Arellano. Tessa Prieto-Valdes, who competed in the relay category last year, was back in the game in the individual age group category.

The awarding ceremonies followed at the Shangri-La Mactan grounds, where Top Finishers in the Pro, Filipino Elite, CEO, Age Group and Relay categories were recognized. World – renowned furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue designed this years Winners’ Trophies and Finisher’s Medal. The even wrapped up with an after-event party held at Mövenpick Hotel.

Here are the Top Winners:

Top Winners



1st Place Courtney Atkinson 03:58:07 Caroline Steffen 04:16:12
2nd Place Pete Jacobs 03:59:09 Bree Wee 04:27:49
3rd Place David Dellow 04:02:22 Belinda Granger 04:33:50
4th Place Chris McCormack 04:03:15 Jacqui Slack 04:39:31
5th Place Brent McMahon 04:04:05 Monica Torres 04:52:08

Filipino MElite

Filipino WElite

1st Place Banjo Norte 04:26:44 Allesandra Araullo-Gonzalez 05:05:33
2nd Place August Benedicto 04:32:38 Jenny Guerrero 05:20:02
3rd Place John Phillip Duenas 04:33:18 Ani Karina Brown 05:22:43

For a complete list of winners in the Individual and Relay categories, please visit the following links:
Cobra Energy Drink 70.3 IronMan Philippines Individual Official Results
Cobra Energy Drink 70.3 IronMan Philippines Relay Official Results

Cobra Energy Drink IronMan 70.3 Philippines 2013 was participated in by 2,150 triathletes from 35 countries. Ironman 70.3 is a triathlon event with a total distance of 70.3 miles (113km) covering 1.2 mile (1.9km) swim, 56 mile (90km) bike ride and 13.1 mile (21km) run. It was a race with a feel of a festival. An event that the Cebuanos and the global triathlon community is looking forward to.

For more race details, please log on to:

Follow Alaska Sports Hub on Twitter: @AlaskaSportshub

5i50 Subic – It’s Twice the Fun in the Philippines!

The Champs (from left to right): Ben Allen, Luke McKenzie, Jacqui Slack, Belinda Granger, Michelle Gailey, Fredrik Croneberg & Justin Granger

2013 5i50 Champs (from left to right): Ben Allen, Luke McKenzie, Jacqui Slack, Belinda Granger, Michelle Gailey, Fredrik Croneberg & Justin Granger

Indeed, triathlon is more fun in the Philippines. But for Australia’s Pro triathlete Belinda Granger, triathlon is twice the fun in the Philippines. Leading the Women Pro category at the swim start, Belinda took home her second Championship Title in this year’s 5i50, clocking in at 02:17:33. 

Being a first timer in the Philippines did not deter the Australian Luke McKenzie to bag his first 5i50 Philippines Championship title in the Men Pro category, crossing the finish line in 01:59:25. 

Despite the heavy downpour the night before the race, pros, elites, celebrity triathletes and age groupers have massively gathered as early as 5am at the Hanjin Port to have their body markings done, and to be ready for the swim start. The first wave came off at half past 6, which included Alaska Team TBB’s Mathieu O’Halloran, Luke McKenzie, Ben Allen, Chris McCormack, Justin Granger, Fredrick Croneberg, Michael Murphy, Luke Gillmer, Belinda Granger, Michelle Gailey, Jacqui Slack and Monica Torres who were competing in the Pro Category. Monica Torres debuted as Filipino Pro in this year’s 5i50. Dhill Anderson Lee, Banjo Norte, Jenny Rose Guerrero, Rochelle Tan, Kim Mangrobang, Nikko Huelgas, John Leerams Chicaco and Jonard Saim, who were among the Filipino Elites. 

As soon as the gun start for the first wave sounded off, I asked my motorbike rider to take me to the swim out area, roughly a couple of kilometres from the swim start area. I stood by the railings waiting as to who swims out first. Matt O’Halloran and Belinda Granger led the Pro in the swim course; Alaska Team TBB protégé Dhill Anderson Lee and Kim Mangrobang led the Filipino Elites. 

Chris "Macca" McCormack at the Transition 1, 5i50 Philippines

Chris “Macca” McCormack at the Transition 1, 5i50 Philippines

Soon, the pros and elites were on their bike. The 40 kilometre bike course was very technical with its uphill and downhill slopes. Part of the course was a bike ride at the Subic Airport. Luke McKenzie took the leading spot among the male pros. Belinda on the other hand confidently maintained her positioned as the leading Female Pro. Coming from the downhill ride, the riders proceeded to Transition 2 at SBECC for the run leg.

The 10 kilometre run course was generally flat. In her past interviews, Belinda Granger admitted that she isn’t a fast runner. But her leading mileage in both the swim and bike courses helped her maintain her position, and so was Luke McKenzie. Ben Allen and Michael Murphy was catching up on McKenzie, while Michelle Gailey locked in on her speed in the hope of getting even with Granger. Jacqui Slack was just behind Gailey. 

As the pros competed among themselves, the Filipino Elites showed their inherent skills during the entire duration of the race. Dhill Anderson of Alaska Team TBB recorded 18 minutes 43 seconds in the swim leg, Jonard Saim completed the bike course in 1 hour 8 minutes and 3 seconds; and Philip Dueñas, despite not winning any of the top three spots, completed his 10k run in 34 minutes and 45 seconds. Philip recorded the fasted run leg in this year’s race. Among the Women Filipino Elites, Jenny Rose Guerrero completed her 10k run in 50 minutes and 51 seconds while Kim Mangrobang completed the swim course in 21 minutes and 12 seconds. 

Alaska Team TBB: Jenny Rose Guerrero, Dhill Anderson Lee, Marc Altura

Alaska Team TBB: Jenny Rose Guerrero, Dhill Anderson Lee, Marc Altura

The Coach: Matt O’Halloran

Matt O’Halloran, resident coach of Alaska Team TBB, though he won the Alaska Swim Time Bonus, has not won any of the top three spots. Yet, he was a Champion in his own right.  The young protégés he was coaching did really well in the race. Jenny Rose Guerrero brought home the Championship Title in the Women Filipino Elite Category. She was also the recipient of the Oakley Time Bonus. Banjo Norte finished fourth among the Men Filipino Elites. Dhill Anderson Lee was also a recipient of the Alaska Swim Time Bonus. 

Marc Altura and Martin Torres, also from Alaska Team TBB, competed in the 15 – 19 age group category.

2013 5i50 Finisher's Medals & Trophies

2013 5i50 Finisher’s Medals & Trophies

Leading this year’s list of winners are:
Men Pro:
1. Luke McKenzie – 01:59:25
2. Ben Allen – 02:02:40
3. M
ichael Murphy – 02:05:46

Women Pro
1. Belinda Granger – 02:17:33
2. Michelle Gailey – 02:24:09
3. Jacqui Slack – 02:26:05

Men Filipino Elite
1. John Chicano – 02:09:45
2. Jonard Saim – 02:10:29
3. Nikko Huelgas – 02:11:00

Women Filipino Elite
1. Jenny Rose Guerrero – 02:41:48
2. Rochelle Tan – 02:52:56
3. Kim Mangrobang – 03:03:20

At the media center, I had the opportunity to chat with Jacqui Slack after the race. Despite having a couple of flat tires in the bike course, she was in all smiles saying that “it’s always good to be here (competing at 5i50 Subic).” Rest assured, she’ll be back next year, hoping for more good luck to come her way.

Due to some challenges he encountered with his bike while at the bike leg of the race, world champion Chris “Macca” McCormack had no choice but to quit the race. And while most sports cater to the able-bodied individuals, triathlon events such as 5i50 give opportunities to physically  challenged individuals to compete.

Philippine Triathlon Team Captain Nikko Huelgas admitted that being his first time to compete in 5i50, gave him some “good pressure” that makes him “want to work hard.” He won Third Place in the Filipino Elite Category.

Noelle "Kikay Runner" de Guzman, Solenn Heusaff, Isabelle Daza, Erwan Heusaff, Drew Arellano & Nikko Huelgas

Noelle “Kikay Runner” de Guzman, Solenn Heusaff, Isabelle Daza, Erwan Heusaff, Drew Arellano & Nikko Huelgas

At the race venue, I bumped into the pretty Noelle “Kikay Runner” de Guzman, who looked so fresh after the race! And there was Erwan Heusaff, Isabelle Daza and Solenn Heusaff and Drew Arellano. Also, spotted at the event was Jeff Lo of Pinoyfitness.

5i50 is a triathlon event composed of 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run. The event was held in Subic Exhibition and Convention Center on June 23, 2013 by Sunrise Events. 

For a full list of winners, please visit: For race updates, please follow us on Twitter: @AlaskaSportshub

The 2012 Cobra 70.3 Ironman Philippines

2012 Cobra 70.3 Ironman Philippines Finisher’s Medal

It took me a long while to post my blog about the recently concluded Cobra 70.3 Ironman Philippines. I just posted this blog when everyone has already talked about, and raved about it. Well, they got their own stories, and I got mine.

It was drizzling that early morning of August 3, 2012 while on board a cab on my way to the Terminal 2 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. It has been raining on and off that week due to a low pressure area.  I got off the cab as soon as it pulled over by the ramp, and proceeded to the entrance to the main lobby.

I’m flying to Cebu to cover the much anticipated triathlon event of the year – the Cobra Energy Drink 70.3 Ironman Philippines.  I boarded the plane a quarter past 5 in the morning. Despite the not so good weather, the flight pushed through as scheduled. At an altitude of 30,000 feet, Philippine Airline’s Airbus A330-300 gave everyone on that flight a very good one and half hours of flying experiencing. And the roundtrip ticket was purchased at half the price!

Arriving at the Mactan International Airport, the sun was up, the weather was great, and there was not a single trace of a rain cloud.  Not so long after I checked out of the airport, the van picked me up along with other media people, who were apparently on that same flight. Since it was way too early in the morning, only a few business centers were open. The whole entourage decided to stop by Starbucks in Mactan for breakfast, and to discuss the events and itineraries for the day.

Looking out the window, one couldn’t deny the fact that in two days’ time, a grand multisport event is happening in the heart of Queen City of the South.  Cebu is hosting the 2012  Cobra 70.3 Ironman Philippines. The security was tight at the event’s venue – the Shangri – La Mactan Resort and Spa. We billeted at BE Hotel and Resorts, which was about a mile from Shangri – La.

BE Hotel and Resorts housed the creations of the Hollywood famous furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, who also designed this year’s Ironman Philippines’ finisher’s medal.

Call time was normally at 4am to us time for breakfast and to shuttle us to the venue. Lunches and dinners were at various restaurants in the city like SuTuKil, Chikaan, and Dimsum Break. We’d be back at the hotel around 8 or 9 the evening. And by that time, malls are already closed. And I could only think of getting some sleep to prepare for the following day’s string of activities.

On the day we arrived in Cebu, we had the opportunity to check the race course passing through the famous Marcelo Fernan Bridge which connects Mactan Island to the rest of the Cebu. At the Ironman Expo during the race bring and press con, I came across Coach Michelle Estuar and Belinda Granger.  And who can miss out the 2011 Cobra 70.3 Ironman Philippines Filipino Elite Champion Arland Macasieb? I took that opportunity to have the two copies of Runner’s Magazine (which I brough all the way from Manila) autographed! During our short conversation, the one thing he asked me was why is my name Supladong Runner. Well, almost everyone asked me that same question. I also had the opportunity to have my photo taken with Australia’s Hall of Famer Belinda Granger at the Expo Center.

Lounging on the Kenneth Cobonpue Creation

The following day, after the Alaska Ironkids Triathlon event, we visited the Cebu International Convention Center where 1 Cebu Expo was held. Locally made handicrafts were on sale – from accessories, delicacies to furniture.

On the event day, I woke up at 4:30 in the morning. It was pretty late. I haven’t had the chance to take my breakfast because we all need to be at the venue before they close the roads at 5am. But it was okay since the night before, our dinner was like a carboloading dinner. A short media briefing followed and some of us in the Alaska Press Corps were assigned a motorcycle rider.

The sun hasn’t risen up yet. The horizon was still dark lavender and some oranges. The sea was calm. Colorful vintas were spotted nearby. Triathletes and spectators have started to gather at the swim area. The early morning just got busy. I bumped into She Quimosing and some guys from A Runner’s Circle. I positioned myself at the bike transition area and while on my way, there’s Tessa Prieto – Valdez. Took a snap of Belinda Granger and Arland Mac with his Fil Am Tri buddies.

I knew that the race had already started when I saw one triathlete pedaling fast off the transition area.  Since I had to give live updates of the race, I proceeded to the parking area behind the Shangri – La resort for the motorcycle ride. I had to run towards the parking area to be on the lead. But the venue security people and even some of the race marshals weren’t really nice. They gave me a run around where I need to pass through. I was getting frustrated by their insensitivity, but I can’t get mad. Whew! Anger management.

I was racing with time just to get to the parking lot where the motorbike riders were stationed.  I felt like sprinting to the finish line.  As soon as I got to the parking lot, I took the back ride and we left off. We were already behind the racers so we took the short cut to the Marcelo Fernan Bridge. When we got there, the police officers didn’t let us in. So, we took another detour passing through the old M. Fernan Bridge towards the tunnel. Soon I was getting calls and text messages from the Media Center for updates. I was caught off guard.

The bike course was technical. Racers had to pass through a tunnel and take the Marcelo Fernan Bridge. Both sides of the streets were filled with spectators – men, women, young and old, and students. Loud cheers emanate from groups of students as the racers pass them by.

As soon as the triathlete pros have made their third U – turn, I asked the driver to take me to the run course, driving at approximately 60 – 80kph. Perhaps a quarter of an hour or so had passed, and I was expecting to catch up with Pete Jacobs and Cameron Brown. But I didn’t see any trace of them in the bike course. Though we ran past Matt O’Halloran on his way towards to the transition area.

It was only in the run course that I was able to catch up with Pete and Cameron. The run course has a festive mood. Elementary students were lined up along the streets, chanting and cheering as the runners pass by.

When I got to the Discovery turn around point, three groups of cheer dancers perked up the area. Their dance moves and the pumped up sound system brought life to the hot and humid environment. Runners were even asking them to keep on with the grooves!

Since the run course was the last leg of the race, I was able to spot a lot of familiar triathletes. There’s Pete Jacobs and Cameron Brown who were racing shoulder to shoulder, Matt O’Halloran, Caroline ‘Xena’ Steffen, Bree Wee, Michelle Wu, Belinda Granger, Monica Torres, Alaska Team TBB’s Banjo Norte and Marc Altura, Coach Ige Lopez, Fil Am Tri’s Arland Macasieb, and a whole lot more! At 11 in the morning, more and more runners were already making their second loop to complete the 21k run course, and down to the finish line.

I proceeded to the finish line when I got back to the race venue. The activity area was jam packed with participants and spectators. Some participants were getting their much needed massage and taking a dip in the Intex pools, sharing their respective story about the race.

At around 1pm, we took our lunch. And it was a sumptuous lunch. The waiters were very courteous as they served our food. Then by 4pm, the awarding started. Special Awards such as the Century Tuna SuperBods Award was given to Drew Arellano. Arland Macasieb placed second in this special award. Banjo Norte of received the Alaska Swim Bonus for finishing the swimming out of the water first; and so was Marion Kim Mangrobang. Monica Torres received her fourth Filipino Elite Champion trophy. It’s unfortunate that Arland Mac didn’t win in this year’s elite category. He got a couple of flats in the bike leg. Nonetheless, as a true athlete, he still made every inch of an effort to finish the race.

Pete Jacobs and Caroline Steffen both topped the Pro category. Cameron Brown and Bree Wee filled the second spot, while Matt O’Halloran and Belinda Granger took the third spot. It was a back to back victory for Steffen who, earlier that week, placed first in the World Triathlon Championships.

The 2012 Cobra 70.3 Ironman Philippines Race Route

Having been exposed to the sport, I became a fan of these triatletes, to the point that I had my media ID and my singlet signed by them! When everything was all set, we headed back to the hotel for a much needed rest. It was then that I just realized how burnt my skin was. I was red all over! When evening came, we had our dinner in a restaurant in Park Mall. After which, we had coffee at Bo’s Coffee shop.

The event is over. No more call time. I was able to sleep well that night. It was already past 5 in the morning when I woke up. I took a bath and went down to the buffet area for breakfast.

As soon as everyone was ready, we took our things down to the lobby to head for the airport. I bumped into Coach Z at the hotel.  And I can’t afford to miss that opportunity for a photo ops with her.

It was a sunny morning when got to the airport. There was a long line of passengers waiting to be checked in. And as the saying goes, patience is a virtue. We had to wait for our turn. Good thing the airport manager prioritized all PAL passengers taking the 9am flight. So, we were able to check in our baggage ahead of the other passengers. It didn’t take much longer after we settled in our seats before the plane took off. Soon enough, we were already landing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. While the sun was everywhere in Cebu, rain was all over the metro. How ironic!

Finally, I’m back home. I gathered my things, proceeded to the airport lobby and took a cab. As the rain poured, I was thinking about the three days that I spent in Cebu.  The experience and the lessons learned were all worth my time and effort. It was non – negotiable. I had fun. And had so much of it.  There were downsides to it, but they’re so trivial to think about. Yet, they still formed part of what is called ‘the experience’. I’m fortunate to have been given this opportunity to be part of a great event. I thank God for the wonderful things that He never failed to show me, and for the blessings that He provided me.

This is all about the Cobra 70.3 Ironman Philippines. And this is my story.

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