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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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!

Regent Stages Inaugural 5i50 Triathlon


Triathlon has become the fast-growing sport today, attracting triathletes from across the country and the international community. And a significant number of triathlon races are being held annually in the country.

With Sunrise Events, Inc. at the helm, watch out for the inaugural Regent 5i50 Triathlon slated on June 7, 2015, in Subic Bay. As the presenting partner, Regent Foods promises not only the exciting challenges of the multisport in the 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run, but most importantly, a different kind of experience for every participating triathlete – from the swim start down to the finish line, and extends even more than receiving the finisher medal.

Regent 5i50 features a challenging 1.5km loop, rectangular, clockwise swim at the waters of the Subic Bay Boardwalk,a 40km point-to-point bike ride to the Subic International Airport, heading to IDESS up to Tarlac Road and head back to Transition 2 in Remy Field.

The 10km run will start from Transition 2 in Remy Field and heads on to the first turn around in Dewey Ave., going back to Remy Field and then go to Rizal Highway entering Argonaut Highway for the second turn around, and heading back for the finish at Remy Field.

Top Aussie pros Casey Munro, Justin Granger, Clayton Fettel, Belinda Granger, Dimity Lee-Duke and Thai Carole Fuchs head the foreign entries in the 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run, which serves as Regent’s answer to triathletes who love to do short – distance but challenging races in a world – class production set-up.

“In our aim to support Filipinos’ changing lifestyle and needs, Regent Foods started to focus in promoting a balanced routine through our participation in fun run events.  Over the past years, we have seen triathlon evolve as a fast – growing sport. We are truly proud to be part in supporting the triathlon community with the Regent 5i50 event,” said Ricky Lee, President and CEO of Regent Foods.

Alaska Tri-Aspire’s Banjo Norte and Jenny Rose Guerrero, and LC Langit compete in the Filipino elite category. Celebrity triathletes Kim Atienza, Matteo Guidicelli, Victor Basa and Onemig Bondoc are also competing in their respective age groups.

“We commend Regent Foods for joining the ever-growing list of backers of this popular three-sport athletic competition. With a talent-laden international field, we expect a world-class competition since the event also serves as a fitting tune-up for those competing in the Ironman,” said Wilfred Uytengsu, President and CEO of Sunrise Events, Inc., which also stages the Philippine franchise of Ironman, Ironkids and Safeguard 5i50.

The two pre-event activities which include athlete registration, race pack claiming and race briefing will be held on June 5-6, 2015, is backed by 2Go Express, the official courier and logistics partner, Sante Barley, Newton Running, PLDT SubicTel, TYR, Coca Cola Femsa, Garmin, David’s Salon, Shotz, Smart, Pioneer Insurance, The Philippine Star Multisport Magazine, Intercare, Department of Tourism, Tourism Promotions Board and host venue Subic Bay.

For more event details, please log on to http://www.regent.5i50philippines.com

Borlain sisters rule Alaska IronKids Triathlon in Subic


Sam, Chezka and Tara Borlain made podium finishes at the #AlaskaIronkids Triathlon Subic on March 7, 2015

Sam, Chezka and Tara Borlain made podium finishes at the #AlaskaIronkids Triathlon Subic.

Tara and Samantha Borlain again finished one-two in the same category (Girls 11-12) during the 2015 Alaska IronKids Triathlon held in Subic over the weekend. Open to children 6 to 14 years old, Alaska IronKids is the local junior version of the international triathlon series, Ironman.

Tara trailed sister Samantha in the swim and bike part of the race but relied on her strong finishing run to prevail. Other 1st place winners in the girl category are Nicole Danielle Eijansantos (13-14), Alison Ann Noble (9-10) and Justicia Mariearl Tan (6-8).

Brent Valelo also relied on a strong run to rule the Boy 13-14. Other 1st place winners in the boy category are Juan Francisco Baniqued (11-12), Mark Grist (9-10) and Dayshaun Karl Ramos (6-8).

Christine Levi Gaspar and Una Janus Sibayan placed second and third in the Girls 13-14. Everly Janarie Macalalad finished third in the Girls 11-12. Patricia Tolentino and Ana Maria Mempin placed second and third in the Girls 9-10. Franchezka Borlain, youngest of the Borlain sisters, and Caitlin Gaw finished second and third in the Girls 6-8.

Sabino Czar Manglicmot IV and John Caleb Barlin placed second and third in the Boys 13-14. Jose Manuel Arao and Karl Rafael Pamakid placed second and third in the Boys 11-12. Matthew Thomas Alumbres and Juan Miguel Tayag placed second and third in the Boys 9-10. Jabrielle Marcos Delizo and Reggeal Victoria placed second and third in the Boys 6-8.

Brent Valelo won another  championship title as he edged out other participants in the #AlaskaIronkids Triathlon 13-14 boys.

Brent Valelo won another championship title as he edged out other participants in the #AlaskaIronkids Triathlon 13-14 boys.

Four races are lined up for 2015— two aquathlons and two triathlons. The next races will be the Alaska IronKids Aquathlon Apr. 19 at The Village Sports Club; the Alaska IronKids Aquathlon in Subic Bay; and the Alaska IronKids Triathlon Aug. 1 in Cebu.

The races will have three categories: Race Category (with Podium Medals) with four age groups; Play Category (with finisher’s medal but no age categories) with short and long distances to promote outdoor play and increase participation for non-competitive participants; and the Relay Category (with Podium Medals) with two mixed age groups.

Alaska Milk Corporation President/CEO Wilfred Steven Uytengsu said he is ecstatic with the huge turnout.

“It’s really nice to see the parents supporting their kids promoting a healthy lifestyle, a lot of kids today spend a lot of time on their iPads or playstations. It’s important to develop your technical skills but you also have to be physically fit,” said Uytengsu.

Alaska IronKids Philippines is an annual sporting event that aims to promote the healthy and active lifestyle among children through the winning combination of proper nutrition and physical activity. The Alaska IronKids Race Series is just one of many sports development programs that Alaska conducts yearly to engage children to come out and play.

Pioneering athletic programs like the Alaska IronKids Philippines Triathlon has managed to take children away from their video game consoles, cellphones and cable TV remotes and out into the sun to swim, bike and run in triathlon races. Alaska’s sports programs hope to encourage children to get into organized sports while learning positive values like hard work, discipline, determination and teamwork. The program for 2015 will continue to bring excitement as it helps future athletes realize their dreams.

Become an inspiring athlete too and join Alaska’s sports programs now! NUTRITION. ACTION. CHAMPION.

For general information about the Alaska IronKids please visit http://www.ironkidsphil.com. For live Twitter updates follow @ALASKAsportshub #AlaskaIronkids.

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