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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Junior Triathletes Win Big at the Alaska Ironkids Cebu


Standing: JB Sarmiento, Brent Valelo, Arno Baetz, Lauren Plaza, Aaliyah Mataragnon, Juris Aaron Earl Tan Sitting: Justin Christopher Yu, Justicia Mariearl Tan, Eduard Russell So, Everly Macalalad, Tara Borlain and Sam Borlain

Some 160 junior triathletes from the national and international triathlon communities geared up for the Alaska Ironkids held on August 2, 2014 at the Shangri-La Mactan in Cebu. The beach front of the Shangri-La Mactan was jampacked with parents and spectators as the participants, as young as 6 years old, were getting ready for the race.

The race kicked off with the gun start for the 13 to 14 and 11 to 12 year old groups. These older groups of boys and girls started off with the leg swim of the race competitively, with last year’s defending champion Arno Baetz coming out of the water first. The groups of 9 to 10 and 6 to 8 year olds followed simultaneously. Despite being young, the participants showed very remarkable and even top notch race performance from the swim leg, to the bike and to the final phase of the race which is the run leg.

Lightning doesn’t strike the same spot twice. It’s true. But not for the 14 year old Arno Baetz, who took home the Cebu championship title twice in a row. Homegrown triathlete Justin Chiongbian finished second, with Brent Valelo completing the line up.

From top right clockwise: Race Dir. Coach Ani de Leon-Brown conducting the race briefing to Alaska Ironkids participants; TriClark Team: Nathan Nalo, JB Sarmiento, Justicia Mariearl Tan, Juris Aaron Earl Tan & Brent Valelo; Tara and Sam Borlain; Team Tri-Gear: Lauren Plaza, Everly Macalalad, Juan Francisco Baniqued & Una Sibayan

Nicole Eijansantos took the top stop, but had to battle it out with last year’s champion Lauren Justine Plaza, who came in at the second place. Cebu’s Aaliyah Mataragnon settled with the third place.Consistent podium finishers ruled the 11 to 12 year old group. Juan Francisco Baniqued, who made the rounds of top finishes in this year’s Alaska Ironkids races, placed first. JB Sarmiento, who has a condition called G6PD deficiency (which may cause a hemolytic anemia to a patient) came in second, barely 10 seconds ahead of the third placer Juris Aaron Earl Tan.

The Borlain Sisters – Sam and Tara raced for the Championship title. Sam Borlain greeted everyone at the finish line with a sprint finish, one minute and 41 seconds ahead of Tara. Though she placed second, Tara Borlain still has very good words for her sister. “I’m just really happy that my sister experienced winning over me. This really happens in real life. You win some and you lose some. So I’m very happy for my sister,” Tara shared during the Alaska Ironkids Champions press conference. Completing the block is Everly Janarie Macalalad.

Coming all the way from Sendai, Japan, Hyonde Keum topped the 9 to 10 year old boys’ division, Cebuano Eduard Russell So came in second, and the Abel Te Riele of the SunLife Tri Team placed third. In the girl’s division, Cebu-based Syrah Ruth Uy was the first to finish among her race playmates, followed by Samantha Nalo for the second place. Danica Alba sneaked in the third spot.

Tayag twins – Juan Miguel and Jose Maria Tayag, proved indispensable in the 6 to 8 year old boys’ division, who finished first and third, respectively. Justin Christopher Yu finished in betweet the Tayag twins as he placed second. Justicia Mariearl Tan championed in the girls’ category, Dhexia Myle Bersabal made it to the second spot, and Alethea Paige Gaccion completed the podium roster.

From top right clockwise: The Ironman Pros: Justin Granger, Belinda Granger & Casey Munro; Alaska Ironkids Finisher’s Medal; Jose Maria & Juan Miguel Tayag, Eduard Russell So, Alaska VP for Mktg. Ms. Blen Fernando, RG Gabunada, Caroline Steffen, Belinda Granger, Justin Granger, Joanne Angeles, Brent McMahon, Pete Jacobs, Sam Betten & Dimity-Lee Duke.

This year’s Cebu Alaska Ironkids had a new race route, where all participants took the long stretch of Punta Engaño Road for both the bike and run legs of the race. In addition, two non-competitive categories were also included, the Long Distance and the Short Distance Play Categories, for those who want to participate in the event, but don’t want to feel the pressure of “racing”.

Whilst the overcast made racing very conducive to all participants, the event was made more spectacular as the Ironman Pros took the task of handing over the medals and trophies to the top finishers.

All finishers received a finisher’s shirt and a finisher’s medal, plus gift packs from Alaska and race partners.

Congratulations to all the winners and finishers, and to the very hands-on Race Director Coach Ani de Leon-Brown for another successful Alaska Ironkids!

For complete race results, please head over to http://www.ironkidsphil.com.
On Twitter, please follow @AlaskaSportsHub.

The Cebu Trip and the Cobra IronMan 70.3 Philippines Experience Final Part


At  the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, Lapu-Lapu City

At the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, Lapu-Lapu City

Despite coming to Crimson Resort and Spa a little late the previous night and having a few hours of sleep, I still have a good sleep. Thanks to the very comfy accommodation at the resort. I woke up around 3am to get ready for the big race. The warm shower and the oh-so-mouth-watering breakfast buffet sumptuously prepared at Saffron Café jumpstarted the day. I was later joined by Tin, Rudnie, and Rone.

It was a cold rainy morning. While waiting for the van, rain was drizzling as gusts of wind occasionally send ruffles of leaves and branches nearby. We boarded the van as soon as it arrived and we headed off to the race venue at Shangri – La Mactan. Roughly a kilometer or so from the venue entrance, traffic was already building up, not to mention the continuous drizzle. Race participants and non – participants have decided to go on foot instead. The weather wasn’t really good to reckon with.

I knew that it’s gonna be a long and tiring day. But then again, I knew that it’s gonna exciting and a whole lot of fun. After the short briefing, I met up with my rider and took the early grayish, cold, rainy and deserted road of Lapu – Lapu City down to the turn-around point in Talisay. Droplets of rain felt like cutting through my skin and the cold wind numbing my skin. At half past 6 in the morning, we drove past groups of people who lined up along the streets waiting for the racers to pass by.

Students in their PE uniforms, CAT uniforms and in civilian clothes have already filled the sidewalks. Children and adults alike mingled with the rest of the crowd.

In the photo (left to right): Top - Jacqui Slack & Ben Allen, with IM World Champion Pete Jacobs, with IM World Champion Chris McCormack; Bottom - with Belinda Granger; with Luke and Meg Gillmer

In the photo (left to right): Top – Jacqui Slack & Ben Allen, with IM World Champion Pete Jacobs, with IM World Champion Chris McCormack; Bottom – with Belinda Granger; with Luke and Meg Gillmer

Soon, the lead pack of triathletes came rushing at the first turn around point. Courtney Atkinson was leading the male pros, Banjo Norte of Alaska Team TBB was leading the Filipino Elites, Caroline Steffen, also of Alaska Team TBB was leading the female pros. The crowd never failed to give the racers a boost with the loudest cheers, giving them a push. As it has been the talk of the town, young and old alike were anticipating for celebrity triathlete Piolo Pascual to pass by. And whether you would like it or not, despite the murmurs hounding his preference, he still got the loudest cheers ever. Tessa Prieto-Valdes was in her usual flamboyant outfit. Well, I guess she won’t be a Tessa if she doesn’t dress up like the way she always does.

The 90 – kilometre bike ride seemed like a breeze for the pros and the elites. However, along the route, there were racers who had to go off road due to a broken chain or a flat tire. From the bike course, we moved to the run course to catch up with the lead pack. We were driving at around 60-80 kph! When I got to the race venue, I proceeded to the run course. I had to go on foot as all motor vehicles were not allowed along the run course.

I was running along with some of the triathletes – with a backpack, a mobile phone on my hand. And yeah, I was in my running gear the whole time so I was kind of prepared for it.

While at the run course of the race, I witnessed a lot of really good and positive things. One – Bree Wee who is a female pro triathlete, gave one male participant a really good push when she saw him walking. Caroline Steffen, also a female pro, gave her team mate Filipino Elite Jenny Guerrero a push that she needed. Sometimes, a light pat on the back is all someone would need to keep going. Later that day, I had the opportunity to speak with Jenny, who placed second in the Filipino Elite W Category. She shared that at some point during the run, she felt almost giving up and she her family was her source of strength to make it to the finish line. Ironman World Champion Pete Jacobs, at one time, was pacing with Alaska Team TBB mate David Dellow. They were in a chika-pace. You could see either men grinning.

It was a pretty tough competition for the male pros. Towards the last 2 kilometres of the race, Courtney Atkinson was way ahead, and Pete Jacobs was catching up. Pete could have sprinted the last 2 kilometres or so to make it to the second spot, just a few seconds behind Atkinson.

In the photo (left to right): Ramon Pestaño, Nylah Bautista, Jeff Lo & Coach Ani de Leon-Brown

In the photo (left to right): Ramon Pestaño, Nylah Bautista, Jeff Lo & Coach Ani de Leon-Brown

I had the opportunity to cheer for my triathlete friends like Tess Leono, Ramon Pestaño, Jonah Rivera, Tito Don Causing, and pros like Jacqui Slack and Ben Allen, Belinda Granger and Justin Granger, Elite triathletes like Jenny Guerrero and Dhill Anderson Lee.

Having grown up in Cebu and being a Cebuano himself, Matteo Guidicelli had a huge following as well. People holding flaglets printed with his name were lined up along the run course.

The race was very festive. Students cheerily chanted everytime a racer passes by. Their positivity and their happy disposition radiated that you would feel energised. Indeed, the Cebuanos love the festive ambiance of the 70.3 Cobra Ironman Philippines.

Back at Shangri – La, we took our lunch after a pumped up race. It was only then that I felt tired. While waiting for the press presentations and the awarding, I can’t help it but take a power nap.

Later that afternoon, the awarding was held at the Shangri – La Mactan grounds, recognising the top five men and women in the Pro category, top three in the Filipino Elite, Age Group and Relay categories. Winners deserve the medals and trophies created by world – renowned designer Kenneth Cobonpue.

AMC Media Team

AMC Media Team

That night, we stayed at Be Hotel. Before retiring, I packed my bags just to be ready for the flight back to Manila early morning.Our flight was scheduled an hour later due to a long queue in the check in counter. I took the chance to pick a couple of baggage tags and a souvenir shirt at the Island Souvenir Shop before heading to the boarding area. The four day event was pretty hectic but it was worth all the efforts. The experience was one for the books. Tired but I had fun. I learned new things. I met new people. I rendezvoused with good friends. Can’t ask for more. And I can afford a really big Smile.

Big Thank You to AMC Team!

The Cebu Trip and the Cobra IronMan 70.3 Philippines Experience Part 2


Day 3.

It’s a Saturday. And it was a good morning to wake up to. But I got out of bed late. I had to hasten up so I won’t get caught in the weekend traffic going to Shangri – La for the Alaska IronKids Triathlon. I also had to skip the Saffron Café breakfast.

On my way to the beachfront, the bike check in area was busy. The young champs, accompanied by their parents were all getting ready for the race. In one corner, a coach was giving his last minute instructions. The swim start area was even busier. I chanced up Noelle de Guzman, who despite her status as a triathlete (she was racing the following day in the 70.3 Ironman), volunteered to do marshal duties.

Minutes before the Wave 1 gun start, I went through the bike course. The route was pretty technical with a sharp turn and some minor elevation. At the start of the race, there was an overcast which was an advantage to the racers. However, roughly three quarters of an hour after the gun start, big droplets of rain started to pour in. In no time, there was already a heavy downpour coupled with strong winds. I ran to the nearest tent and as the rain poured, some participants in the run course still continued to complete the race. I’ve seen at least a couple of them who braved the ruthless weather that morning. When I got the opportunity to sneak out of the tent, I ran up to the hotel entrance and proceeded to the Media Center. Due to the inclement weather, the organiser officially cancelled the Wave 2 of the race. The rain went on for at least two hours.

Ironically, just before noon, the sun shone its brightest. Everything was back to normal. There was not a single trace of a raindrop. The participants of the Alaska Ironkids Triathlon started to gather up at the Media Center, where the awarding ceremony was held. It was a morning of victory for the young triathletes as they received recognition for a job well done. I would say that even those who didn’t win still deserve a really good pat on the back for making it to the finish line. As Race Director Ani de Leon-Brown said, “the future is bright for the triathlon in the Philippines because of the Ironkids.” True enough, because those young champs are a testimony to what an IronKid is, no matter what it takes, cross the finish line.

Lounging in a Kenneth Cobonpue creation at BE Hotel In the Photo (left to right): Nadine, Yam, Raffy, myself and Rone

Lounging in a Kenneth Cobonpue creation at BE Hotel.
In the Photo (left to right): Nadine, Yam, Raffy, myself and Rone

It was a quite a busy morning. By noon, along with media group, we took our lunch at Dimsum Break at the Park Mall. The morning activities got me drained that I had a little more than enough for lunch. But I ain’t complaing. J Back to the race venue, I spent the rest of the afternoon at the Expo Center, and attended another press conference.

Wrapping up the day’s events, we proceeded to Be Hotel as we wait for the other media personalities to join us for dinner. Unfortunately, another heavy rain fell. The weather got us tied up at Be Hotel lobby. Yam, Nadine, Rone, Raffy and I cozily occupied one of those Kenneth Cobonpue furnitures at the hotel lobby lounge as we sip our coffee. We decided to have our dinner at Be Hotel café instead. It was a blessing in disguise because I came across the Filipino Elite triathlete John Leerams Chicano. That night, I was supposed to move to Be Hotel, but having another option, I chose to stay at Crimson Resort.

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