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!

ITU Certified Coach Jojo Macalintal Launches Triathlon Coaching Program

From individual sports such as swimming, cycling and running, people have resorted to multisport as part of their active lifestyle. Combining and doing all these three sports in succession in a single event may seem a long shot. For most, triathlon is a very tough sport. Yes, it is a tough sport, and it is no different from other sports. With proper training and coaching, triathlon is a sport that one will truly embrace from swim start to the finish line.

Triathlon Team Trimac with Coach Jojo Macalintal

Triathlon Team Trimac with Coach Jojo Macalintal

For beginners, a mere mention of the word triathlon can trigger a myriad of questions. You and I may have the same questions boiling up in our minds right now. You may be asking “how long does it take to be train and be ready for the first race?” “I’m a professional and I don’t have much time to train and I don’t know how to swim, can I still do triathlon?” “How much does the training cost?” These are just a few of those questions hounding your head right now, and there could be a lot more. Yes?

This summer, get your questions answered as top triathlete and International Triathlon Union (ITU) certified coach Jojo Macalintal takes you to the world of triathlon.

Popularly known in the triathlon community as Coach Jomac, Macalintal has 18 years of experience in triathlon coaching and competition. Coach Jomac has been in every nook and cranny of the sport as competitor, coach and organizer.

As the owner and founder of Trimac Coach, and the strong pillar of the triathlon team Trimac, Coach Jomac launches a curriculum for beginner, intermediate and advance triathletes in a bid to complement the country’s campaign to send Filipino triathletes to future Olympic Games.

The three-month program for each category will prepare the participants according to their fitness levels. The program begins on April 4, 2016, at the AS parking lot at the University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City.

‘‘As local triathlon grows, Trimac would like to extend its knowledge to help provide solid basic skills and hone talents,’’ Coach Jomac expressed.

“Anyone can be a triathlete. Kids, students, housewives and mothers, and office workers and even whole families who aim just to be physically fit can swim, bike and run any distance, from sprints and mini-sprints to Olympic and Ironman distances under a good triathlon coach with a good program. Trainees may qualify as members of Team Trimac, one of the oldest and most active triathlon teams in the country.” he further added.

Coach Jojo Macalintal has coached scores of triathletes in all levels and ages, from beginners to elite and national athletes, and from youngsters to seniors. The program can accommodate affiliated and non-affiliated triathletes who wish to improve. Assisted by a pool of coaches, Macalintal will not only train beginners and turn them into triathletes; he will also train triathletes to be more competitive.

Macalintal is certified as coach by the International Triathlon Union (ITU) and was selected Coach of the Year twice, in 2011 and 2012, by the swimbikerun.ph, the country’s most popular multisport website. His team Trimac was Triathlon Team of the Year in 2011 and his program continues to churn out top-level age-group and elite and youth triathletes.

Also a certified spinning and TRX instructor, Macalintal also turned promising youths into national pool triathletes under the pioneering Trimac Kids program. Currently, he overseas the grassroots Batang Tri program, which trains poor but promising youths under the sponsorship of Seafood Island with the support of other sponsors like Brooks Running.

Trimac Coaching hopes to help a lot of newcomers at the sport with this program. After observing the impressive performances of youngsters in the IronKids part of the recent Century Tuna Ironman 70.3 Triathlon in Subic last weekend, Macalintal said it won’t be long before the country’s ever-growing triathlon community will produce a competitor who will compete in the Olympic Games.

Interested applicants can contact us through 09158947693 or at 09778236529 or drop a message to Coach Jojo Macalintal at Facebook.

Corporate supporters of the program are Brooks, TYR, Gu Gels, Apotheca, KLEAN and Unilab Active Health.

Sam Borlain and Wacky Baniqued Lead the Pack of Alaska Ironkids Champions

Months of training led to the most anticipated triathlon event for the young triathletes. On March 5, 2016, some 126 junior triathletes gathered for the first installment of the Alaska Ironkids triathlon held at the Wow! Recreation and Activity Center in Subic.

The early morning was abuzz as young triathletes checked in their bikes and geared up for their respective race distances, whilst a few seemed to be unmindful that they were actually racing that morning. Race Director Ani de Loen – Brown made sure that participants  were familiar with their race route briefing each wave prior to the swim start. 15 times Ironman champion Belinda Granger joined in the event as part of the Sunrise Team that staged the Alaska Ironkids. Aside from giving tips and sharing her experiences as a professional triathlete, she later on gave the participants a hand as they came off from the swim leg.

Alaska Ironkids Champions in the 13-14 AG: Sam Borlain and Wacky Baniqued

Alaska Ironkids Champions in the 13-14 AG: Sam Borlain and Wacky Baniqued

The race kicked off with the first wave of participants in the 13 to 14 year old group, followed by the 11 to 12 years old, 9 to 10 years old, and the final wave 6 to 8 years old in the Race category. Apart from the competitive ones, Alaska Ironkids also gave priority to newbies in the multisport through the Play category.

Marcus Faytaren led the boys in the swim leg of the race and came out of the water first. Sam Borlain led the girls and came out of the water with a wide gap. The race went on as the participants transitioned to the bike leg. It was a pretty close competition among the boys led by JB Sarmiento; Josh Ramos came in a few seconds behind and Wacky Baniqued on the third spot. Marcus Faytaren landed in the fourth spot. Sam Borlain firmly maintained her lead in the bike leg down to the run leg and soon caught up with the boys in the run leg.

Not having a team to train with months prior to the race day, Wacky Baniqued never lost his focus. He did what he’s best at and finished off the 400 metre swim, 12 kilometre bike and the 3 kilometre run in 43 minutes 8 seconds. JB Sarmiento came in 44 seconds behind in 43 minutes and 54 seconds. Josh Ramos, who’s racing in his second Alaska Ironkids triathlon, remarkably finished third in 44 minutes and 16 seconds.

Sam Borlain never broke despite some misfortunes that beset her in the bike leg – both her bike’s brakes and bike shoes were locked when they’re supposed to be unlocked. Sam finished with a breeze in 47 minutes and 52 seconds. Jana Macalalad leveled up her game with a second spot finish in 50 minutes and 1 second. Pia Suarez trailed in the third spot with a finish time of 51 minutes and 57 seconds.

15x Ironman Champion Belinda Granger sharing her experiences as a professional triathlete and giving tips to future champions at the Alaska Ironkids triathlon held in Subic on March 5, 2016.

15x Ironman Champion Belinda Granger sharing her experiences as a professional triathlete and giving tips to future champions at the Alaska Ironkids triathlon held in Subic on March 5, 2016.

It’s a great opening year for the 11-year old Zedrick James Borja, who topped the boys 11 to 12 years old category with a finish time of 37 minutes and 16 seconds. In 2015, he tied with Jose Maria Tayag in fourth place in the 9 to 10 boys category. Coming in at the second place is Eric Almendral who finished in 39 minutes and 54 seconds; Johann Carlos closed the roster with an 11 second gap finishing the race in 40 minutes and 5 seconds.

Tara Borlain once more proved to be invincible as she flawlessly took home another championship title for herself. Tara had her share of misfortune in the bike leg when she almost crashed at the bike mounting area because her rear wheel was unlocked. As a true athlete, she never faltered. She crossed the finish line in 35 minutes and 6 seconds. That’s a full minute and a half ahead of Micaella Barlin, who came in second with a time of 36 minutes and 36 seconds. Allison Ann Noble from the Bull Shark Triteam of Ilocos placed third with a time of 36 minutes and 54 seconds. The 11 to 12 years old race category consisted of 300 metre swim, 9 kilometre bike and 2 kilometre run.

Alaska Ironkids Triathlon finishers: Keesha Toledana, Francyn Elbenco, Anika Toquilar, Johann Manubay and Neil Nazarro.

Alaska Ironkids Triathlon finishers: Keesha Toledana, Francyn Elbenco, Anika Toquilar, Johann Manubay and Neil Nazarro.

Claiming the same spot in last year’s Alaska Ironkids Triathlon Subic, Mark Grist finished the 200 metre swim, 6 kilometre bike and 1.5 kilometre run in 25 minutes and 48 seconds, bringing home another championship trophy. Juan Miguel Tayag and Michael Gabriel Lozada filled in the second place and third place, respectively, with a finish time of 26 minutes and 41 seconds.

Kira Ellis dominated the girls crossing the finish line in 27 minutes and 25 seconds. Ana Maria Mempin came in second with a time of 28 minutes and 54 seconds. A consistent podiumer, Justicia Mariearl Tan added one more trophy in her collection when she finished in 30 minutes and 46 minutes.

You may say that they’re too young to race yet. Watching them behind those A-boards as they wait for their swim start, I can tell you no, they’re not. Who are we talking about here? I’m referring to the youngest of the participants in the race, the 6 to 8 year olds, who made 100 metre swim, 3 kilometre bike and 1 kilometre run.

Connor Hodges made a strong finish in 17 minutes and 15 seconds, topping all the boys. Gabriel Gaw came in second and finally Ythnmathw Orellana, both with a time of 17 minutes and 46 seconds.

Top three girls in 6-8 AG: Franchezka Borlain, Zurielle Kenzie Galo and Kyle Enielle Toledana with IM Pro Champion Caroline Steffen during the awarding ceremony.

Alaska Ironkids Top three girls in 6-8 AG: Franchezka Borlain, Zurielle Kenzie Galo and Kyle Enielle Toledana with IM Pro Champion Caroline Steffen during the awarding ceremony.

Franchezka Borlain makes a name for herself by championing among the girsl in the 6 to 8 year old group, finishing with a time of 16 minutes and 54 seconds. Zurielle Kenzie Galo filled the second spot as she crossed the finish line at 18 minutes and 48 seconds after the swim start. Kyle Enielle Toledana placed third with a time of 20 minutes and 25 seconds.

And to further inspire the winners and the participants, Ironman Pro triathletes like Dimity Lee Duke, Craig Alexander, Sam Betten, Katy Duffield, Caroline Steffen among others  joined in during the awarding ceremony. Winners in all of the age group categories earn a free entry to the Alaska Ironkids Triathlon to be held in Cebu in August this year.

On top of bringing home a championship title, Wacky Baniqued and Tara Borlain also each won a pair Newton shoes for recording the fastest run split in boys and girls division, respectively.

Triathlon Brings Families Together

For years now, Alaska Ironkids has become the venue for children who embrace healthy and active lifestyle through sports. And for the past four years since I started covering the Alaska Ironkids, I have seen so many young triathletes and their families come to the event.

Both the Aquathlon and Triathlon races have become a weekend bonding for triathlon teams and their families. Notably, the Borlains – Dad Ringo, Tita Carol with Sam, Tara and Chezka, make these races as part of their weekend getaway.

Jet and Lou Ann Ramos drove all the way from the highlands of Baguio with their three sons Josh, Dash and Arrow to Subic for the Alaska Ironkids, who each participated in the 13 to 14, 11 to 12 and 6 to 8 years old age group category, respectively.

Tayag Twins - Juan Miguel and Jose Maria, with Mom, Dad and younger brother.

Tayag Twins – Juan Miguel and Jose Maria, with Mom, Dad and younger brother at the Alaska Ironkids Triathlon held in Subic on March 5, 2016.

Triathletes and families of Team TriClark have always been visible in every Alaska Ironkids race. JB Sarmiento’s parents have always lent him the support he needs that enabled him to perform better in each race. The Tayag Twins – Juan Miguel and Jose Maria, have always their mom Connie and Dad Abe in tow each time they race. This time, they tag along their younger brother at the race venue!

During weekends and holidays, they go out for a swim, bike or run with their families or team mates. Their active engagement in these activities promote a healthier lifestyle which inspires more people to get into sports.

Nowadays, a significant number of triathlon teams and individual participants register for the races. Races that instill the values of discipline, hard work, determination and sportsmanship. Races that teach the importance of good nutrition. Races that develop them to be better individuals and athletes. Races that mold them become champions in life.

For more on Alaska Ironkids results, please visit www.ironkidsphil.com.
For more information on Alaska Sports program, visit www.alaskamilk.com.ph.
For updates, follow @AlaskaPlayPH on Instagram, @PlayPH on Twitter.

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.

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