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: www.5150philippines.com. For race updates, please follow us on Twitter: @AlaskaSportshub

5i50 Philippines 2012 Held in Subic

I left the office a little past 12 midnight on July 23, 2012 to pack my things up for the trip to Subic. I packed my overnight bag with the things I need for the two day event. The event: Century Tuna 5i50 Triathlon.

I arrived in Trinoma a little early. While waiting, and having gone from a night shift, I thought some espresso would get me pumped up a bit so I ordered for a grande hot white chocolate mocha breve at Starbucks. About half an hour later, a white van drove by. We got in and headed towards NLEX, stopping by the gas station where we had breakfast at Pancake House.

The van took us through the long stretch of NLEX, exiting to the provincial road bound for Pampanga. The espresso I had didn’t really help. I slept for the most part of the trip. Arriving at SBMA, we checked in at Subic International Hotel.  The lunch at MeatPlus was heavy! We then proceeded to Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC) where a press con for the professional triathletes and race briefing was to be held, where I came across Mish Miravilla.

Matt O’Halloran on his training and his thoughts about the race, said “I pretty much train all around the same 2 kms in laguna. Where I live, there’s a compound with a 2.6km loop  where I did all my riding indoors. So it was a lot of intensity and a lot of training on my own and I’m looking forward to more ride outdoors. Ha ha ha!

I lived in subic on and off for four years. So I know this course like the back of my hand, honestly.

My thoughts about the course is like a video game. It’s like a point to point race. It’s always changing. There’s no laps. You’re just always going up, down, left, right, flat hills. It’s technical. It’s hard. It’s fast. So I think it’s great.”

What can he advice to aspiring triathletes? “Be a student of the sport.”

At the media center, triathletes like Erwan Heussafe, LC Langit, Coach Ige Lopez, Monica Torres and Kuya Kim Atienza gamely posed for photo ops. I was assigned a rider who will take me to the various areas of the race course. Around 5pm, we checked some parts of the race course, the start line at Hanjin Port and the Transition Point.

Our dinner at Golden Dragon Restaurant was great. But I had to excuse myself quite immediate to meet the Running Princess of Subic, Jess and her cousins at Friday’s Harbor Point, who at that time, were also having dinner. As usual, the food was a feast! The dinner was almost over, but from what I gathered, they stayed back and had to order another set of food. The reason: Arland Macasieb just arrived at Friday’s! We waited until Arland Mac was done with his dinner, so Jess can have her photo taken with him. It was pretty late when we left Harbor Point. I proceeded to my hotel suite to get a few hours of sleep. Our call time the following morning was 4.

After breakfast, along with other media people, I boarded the van going to the Transition Point from swim to bike. The rider guy took me to Hanjin Port.  I also chanced upon on my running friends Gaston Fernando Zubiri, who was making his triathlon debut. As soon as all the participants were ready, the gate was opened towards the dock, where racers will take the 1.5k swim leg of the course. After the gun start, I proceeded to the finish line at All Hands Beach Resort where racers will transition for the bike leg.

It was a close competition for pros – Csaba Kuttor, who was first out of the water, and David Dellow who came out next. Dhill Anderson Lee, who was competing in the age group category came out third. Both Dellow and Lee are from Alaska Team TBB. Among the women pros, Belinda Granger was the first out of water.

Riding the motorcycle, I asked the rider to take me to the bike course. The course was reminiscent of the Subic International Marathon route that I participated in early this year. The 40k bike leg included a Timex Challenge at the Subic International Airport.  The whole of the runways were all for the racers. It’s where some triathletes had challenges as their bike’s chain snapped off. I saw one of them  towing his bike out of the race course. At this time, Kuttor was still on the lead. The bike course took the participants to SBECC where they transition for the run leg.

The 10k run course took the participants through a long stretch of flats towards the direction of Subic Homes (it’s where we stayed during Subic Int’l. Marathon). During the run leg, Kuttor who was on the lead for the most part of the race, was overtaken by David Dellow before the Subic Golf Course U – turn point. At half past 8 in the morning, the temperature has already crept up. The  participants were trickling one after another as they take on the 10k course. Belinda Granger was way ahead of her contenders. Dellow and Granger emerged as Top Winners in the men and women pros category, respectively. (Click here for the list of winners).

Back in the activity area, I met with Jess who was taking photos. I also met Alex of Philippine Skyrunning Association, who was giving support to her team mates in the Team Unilab Triathlon Team, which included Meyo and Drew Arellano.

I was having a late lunch with Jess at a café in SBECC when I got an SMS that the awarding has already started. Belinda Granger and David Dellow, who were declared as winners, led the milk shower. I have not anticipated it. I got covered by milk, and even Jess’ camera got a taste of milk! Ben Allen who was sitting behind me, was smiling when he said I got milk all over me.

The event wrapped up as soon all the awards were given – from the pros to age category winners.

For Alaska Team TBB profiles, please click HERE. Get to know more about the pros HERE.


**5i50 is an Olympic – distance Triathlon event. It is composed of 1.5k swim, 40k bike ride and 10k run.

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