On Spotlight: Lucian Antonio Alejo – The Champion Unleashed


Tonito Alejo at the ASTC Singapore Internal Marathon. Photo Credit: Lucian Antonio Alejo

Tonito Alejo at the ASTC Singapore Internal Marathon. Photo Credit: Lucian Antonio Alejo

It was a fine morning of June 6, 2016. I was on my way to Capitol Commons to meet the Alejos, who just arrived in Manila from their week-long vacation in Singapore. It was the first time that I would meet the whole family. Right outside the Pancake House in Capitol Commons, Ton approached me and led me to their table. There I met his sister Alex, his mom Tita Charis and a bit later, his dad Tito Boyet.

I met Lucian Antonio Alejo, or Tonito or Ton, back in 2014 when I did the on ground coverage of Alaska Ironkids in Cebu.

Unlike most junior triathletes, Tonito joined triathlon at a later age in his hometown in Iligan City. Having no background in swimming, he fast-tracked his swimming lessons so he can make it to his first triathlon race a few months away.

After finishing his first race, Tonito developed his love for the multisport and at the same time he wanted to attend the regular school. However, he had to make a tough and wise decision and a few considerations have to be made. Because when he chooses to attend regular school, he won’t have much time to train for triathlon. And for someone who had the passion for the sport, Ton chose the home study program so he can have more time to train and even join triathlon races without compromising his education.

Ton was 13 when he had his first taste of the Alaska Ironkids race which was held on April 13, 2014, in La Stanza, Marikina, where he ranked ninth among the boys in the 13 to 14 age bracket, completing the course in 45 minutes 13.67 seconds (Swim 400m, Bike 12km, Run 3km). He then joined the Alaska Ironkids in Cebu on August 2, 2014, where he ranked sixth in the Boys 13 to 14 age group, with a finish time of 35 minutes and 20.7 seconds (Swim 300m, Bike 9km, Run 2km).

Tonito Alejo during the run leg of Alaska Ironkids Subic, March 2015.

Tonito Alejo during the run leg of Alaska Ironkids Subic, March 2015.

Back home, Ton trained doubly hard and joined other triathlon races. During the Alaska Ironkids held in Subic on March 7, 2015, he missed to bag the third spot by just a second, placing fourth with a finish time of 32 minutes even (Swim 300m, Bike 9km, Run 2km). I can still vividly see him sprint to the finish line.

At 14, Ton had only one shot left to make a mark in the Alaska Ironkids triathlon race. The Alaska Ironkids Cebu held on August 1, 2015, was his last race in the local franchise of Ironkids. Confident with his training, and with his sister Alex and parents in mind, Ton was ready give all the best that he had. His determination to bring home his first Alaska Ironkids trophy and mascot didn’t falter. Not a single bit, as he had always wanted to give Alex that stuffed toy.

When I got off the service car (provided by Ford) straight from Mactan International Airport, I bumped into none other Lucian Antonio Alejo, who had the good news for me!

Among the 36 boys in the 13 to 14 year old category, Ton made a bang with his second place finish in 45 minutes 51.4 seconds, which put John Caleb Barlin in the third spot. His race stats: Swim (400m) – 00:08:13, Bike (12km) – 00:22:34, Run (3km) – 00:15:06. Very impressive! Now, this one’s off his bucket list.

I remember telling him, “What a great way to cap off your final year in the Alaska Ironkids program!” Indeed! Personally, I am so happy to see him achieve his goal because I knew that he worked hard for it. And I can only see a modest grin in his face whilst he said “Thank you po.” Such a fine kid.

Looking at his past Alaska Ironkids races, he improved tremendously from his 9th place in April 2013 to an awesome Second Place finish in August 2015. Yet, Ton has always remained grounded. Still calls me Kuya even when he’s way taller than I am!

Meeting the Alejo Family: Tita Charis, Tonito, Tito Boyet and baby Alex.

Meeting the Alejo Family: Tita Charis, Tonito, Tito Boyet and baby Alex.

Tonito Trivia
  • He can mimic an accent. He can talk in an Indian accent. Though his favourite is Craig Alexander’s Aussie twang.
  • He looks up to Crowie Alexander.
  • One day, he wants to join a Kona Ironman World championship race.
  • He can sing.
  • He can dance.
  • Awarded Athlete of the Year by City Sports Office, Iligan City Government
  • He saved up his cash awards to buy his gears.
  • He is under a home study program through SEIBO College
On Life After Alaska Ironkids
Tonito Alejo at the Dipolog Triathon 103. Photo credit: Dipolog Triathlon 103

Tonito Alejo at the Dipolog Triathon 103. Photo credit: Dipolog Triathlon 103

After his stint at the Alaska Ironkids, Tonito continued his triathlon journey joining sprint distance races like SUBIT, NAGT CDO Leg 3 (First Place) and in the most recent ASTC Singapore International Triatlon, which was also his first international race.

Currently, Ton is part of ActiveHealth Junior Elite Team (Unilab) under Coach Ani de Leon-Brown and Coach Dan Brown. Speaking to Coach Ani, she only has encouraging words for Ton. Whilst his good form is a big plus, he needs to fine tune his focus on training and in his races. With his abilities and talent, there’s a big world of opportunities waiting for him.

Ton, always put your best foot forward in everything that you do. I’m glad to know you’ve found your passion and it’s where you heart belongs to, and you have amazing parents and sister to always motivate you. Continue to be an inspiration to everyone as you’ve found your strength in your weakness! Cheers!

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Champions Reunite at the Alaska Ironkids Aquathlon


Having missed the second instalment of the Alaska Ironkids Aquathlon back in May, I was excited to once again witness the up and coming young triathletes take on the swim and run courses of the Alaska Ironkids Aquathlon in Subic on June 4, 2016.

The race venue was already packed with the participants and their parents as early as 6am. While everyone was busy preparing, I bumped into familiar faces like the Borlain sisters – Sam, Tara and Chezka, Wacky Baniqued, Jana Macalalad, Luigi Crisostomo with their parents in tow. Yes, whenever you see them in any event, you can expect that the parents are just somewhere. There’s no way that I can overlook the presence of these people. Except for Josh Ramos, Chantal Macalolot and a few new entrants to the race, they are the prominent personalities in the Alaska Ironkids races since I started doing live coverages of the event in 2012!

Triathlon Trio: Luigi Crisostomo, Wacky Baniqued and JB Sarmiento.

Triathlon Trio: Luigi Crisostomo, Wacky Baniqued and JB Sarmiento.

The Alaska Ironkids Aquathlon was a reunion of these young and promising triathletes. It is a culmination of their months-long training and preparation, their stage where they shine, their turf where they can be invincible.

Competition is inevitable among the participants even there are no cash prizes to speak of. The top three winners take home a medal, a trophy, the Ironkids stuff toy and the pride that their hardwork had paid off.

The pool side at the Wow Recreation & Activity Center was starting to be filled with spectators as Alaska Ironkids Race Director Ani de Leon-Brown conducted the race briefing a few minutes before the gunstart for the 13 to 14 year olds. As expected, the morning just got a lot busier as soon as the first wave of participants took off for the swim. Exciting twists happen during the race. Some participants can be strong in swimming while others can be faster in the run course.

Wacky Baniqued, 2014 Grand Slam Champion in the 11-12 years old category, came out of the water on the second spot. He gave his best in the run course which placed him on the first spot ahead of Marco Austriaco, who was the first out of the water. Wacky cross the finish line 19 minutes 21.6 seconds. Josh Ramos came in second at 19 minutes 30.5 seconds. Luigi Crisostomo completed the podium list with a time of 19 minutes 32.3 seconds.

This year, it’s another classic race for the Borlains sisters Sam and Tara, as they compete in the same age category. I have seen these two compete and of the two, Sam is a faster swimmer and Tara is the faster runner. But I honestly didn’t consider these two wonderful girls competing against each other. More than the competition, Sam and Tara race to win against themselves. And it was a speedy race for these two. Tara took the spot with a finish time of 19 minutes 44.7 minutes and Sam closely followed at 19 minutes 51.9 seconds. Everly Janarie Macalalad completed the list with a time of 20 minutes 49.6 seconds.

Top Photo: Sam Borlain, Tara Borlain and Jana Macalalad at the 2016 Alaska Ironkids Aquathlon Subic. Bottom photo: Sam Borlain, Tara Borlain and Jana Macalalad, and Ironman Pros at 2012 Alaska Ironkids Cebu.

Top Photo: Sam Borlain, Tara Borlain and Jana Macalalad at the 2016 Alaska Ironkids Aquathlon Subic. Bottom photo: Sam Borlain, Tara Borlain and Jana Macalalad, and Ironman Pros at 2012 Alaska Ironkids Cebu.

And just a little trivia for you, dear readers. Sam, Tara and Jana have been racing in the same age group category since 2012 and have taken the top three spots for four times. These races were Alaska Ironkids Cebu 2012, Alaska Ironkids La Stanza (Marikina) 2014, Alaska Ironkids Cebu 2014 and Alaska Ironkids Subic March 2015.

Though JB Sarmiento didn’t make the Top 3 in the 13-14 age group, he championed among the boys when he recorded the fastest run split with a time of 12 minutes 31 seconds. Among the girls, Tara Borlain completed the run course in 12 minutes and 56 seconds.

In the 11 to 12 age group, Joco Miguel Delizo and Zedrick James Borja made a remarkable finish. Glendwyn Mariscotes came in the fourth place. Back in 2012, Glendwyn topped his age group.

It’s Aubrey Tom’s time to shine as she topped the girls in the 9 to 10 year old age group. The Tayag Twins – Jose Maria and Juan Miguel, are both podium finishers. This time, it’s Jose Maria who landed on the third spot.

Franchezka Borlain apparently takes the same path as her sisters as she consistently makes impressive finish in her races. Chezka placed second in the 6 to 8 year old age group with a time of 7 minutes 44 seconds, four seconds shy of Zurielle Kenzie Galo, who placed first in 7 minutes 40 seconds.

I would like to personally mention Justicia Mariearl Tan. Whilst she didn’t land in the top 3, Isha had her own share of the podium moments in the past races.

The upcoming breed of triathletes in the country (from left): Jusiticia Mariearl Tan, Chezka Borlain, Anika Savet, and Twins Jose Maria and Juan Miguel Tayag.

The upcoming breed of triathletes in the country (from left): Jusiticia Mariearl Tan, Chezka Borlain, Anika Savet, and Twins Jose Maria and Juan Miguel Tayag.

Aside from the Race category, Alaska Ironkids has created a category for enthusiasts who want to have a feel of the multisport events , the Play category. Though participants in this category are not eligible to win, yet, their ranking can can be an indication how well they do in the race. Impressively, at the age of 4, Anika Savet topped the girls in the Play Short Distance event with a time of 8 minutes and 41 seconds tying with the 9-year old Dani Tengco.

The title Champion not only applies to the top finishers but also to everyone who finished the race as each one of them had trained and prepared well for the event. Some may not be as fast and strong as the others, but for sure, they did way better than their last race, recorded a new personal best, or simply feeling good about finishing the race. More than the awards and the trophies given to the top finishers, Alaska Ironkids is a venue to further encourage the children to live a healthy and active lifestyle through sports and proper nutrition.

Congratulations to all Finishers of the Alaska Ironkids Aquathlon!
For a complete list of the winners, please log on to www.ironkidsphil.com.

What’s your Alaska Ironkids story?

XTerra Albay Champion Bradley Weiss Returns to Defend Title


XTerra Albay 2015 Men's Pro Champion Bradley Weiss of South Aftrica returns to defend title.

XTerra Albay 2015 Men’s Pro Champion Bradley Weiss of South Aftrica returns to defend title.

Defending champion Bradley Weiss seeks to dish out another explosive performance around majestic Mayon Volcano as he banners a stellar field in the XTERRA Albay 2016 on February 7 in the Province of Albay.

Weiss struck gold last year when the prestigious off-road triathlon race had its maiden run in Albay with the South African ace determined to set another coronation for himself with the world’s most perfect cone as backdrop.

Out to foil Weiss’ bid are 2015 male pro third-placer Ben Allen of Australia, 2015 fourth placer Brodie Gardner also of Australia, Charlie Epperson of Guam, Joseph Miller of the Philippines and Michal Bucek of Slovakia, who are all returning to Albay.

The women’s pro crown, meanwhile, is up for grabs are 2015 winner Flora Duffy, the world titlist from Bermuda, has opted to skip this year’s event to concentrate on her campaign in the Rio Olympics.

Australians Jacqui Slack, the runner-up last year, and third placer Dimity Lee Duke head the contenders in the distaff side along with Mieko Carey of Guam, who placed fourth last time.

Pros Lizzie Orchard, Taylor Charlton, Cameron O’Neal, and Hsieh Chung Sing are making their debut in the 2016 edition of the event organized and produced by Sunrise Events, Inc. and backed by official venue partners Province of Albay, City of Legaspi, Municipality of Daraga, Bayan ng Sto. Domingo, Official Courier and Logistics Partner 2Go Express, Cetaphil, Columbia, Finisher Pix, Shotz Sports Nutrition, Timex, David’s Salon, Department of Tourism + Tourism and Promotions Board and media partner The Philippine Star.

The race tests the participants in challenging environs in courses around Mayon.

The 1.5K swim starts in the shores of Lidong in Mayon Rivera, where the water is calm and deep and the sands are black.

The 35K bike course features wide and open trails and provides breathtaking view of Mayon. It is a single loop point to point race passing through fire roads, grass roads, sands and rocky trails.

The 10K run follows the ATV route in Mayon passing through rocky and sandy areas, river bed, and grasslands with the finish line set at the famous Cagsawa Ruins.

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 www.ironman703phil.com

See you all in 2016!

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