AUSTRALIA’S Pete Jacobs described yesterday’s Ironman 70.3 in Cebu as “terrific but also having one of the toughest conditions for an Ironman event anywhere in the world.”
He said his victory was a perfect tuneup for this year’s Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii in October.
Jacobs clocked in at 4:07:38 which is 15 minutes slower than his previous finish of 3:51:43 in last year’s Cobra Ironman 70.3 in Camarines Sur. But it was enough to win him his third trophy.
Competitors in the professional, elite and age group categories all raved about the 1.9 kilometer swim course in the Hiluntungan Channel, the first time the event was held in open water.
“I much prefer this venue. It’s beautiful,” said Austalia’s Belinda Granger, defending champion in the women’s pro category.
Organizers had earlier alerted athletes to expect “thousands of spectators”, heat, some uneven road patches and gusty winds along the coast where the bike course would take them.
The sun was up yesterday with no rain to dampen the competition, a welcome stage after typhoon Gener sent drizzles and overcast skies in recent days.
“Strong headwinds at the SRP slowed many of the athletes,” said Jacob later.
He also commented on road conditions.
“If the bumpy sections on the road could be smoother that would be fantastic,” said Jacobs, when asked what improvements Cebu could do for the next Ironman 70.3.
Lorhiz Echavez, who did the bike segment for the relay Team Matteo also cited the “uneven repairs” on the asphalt road in many portions of the South Coastal Road and the North Reclamation area.
“It made the bike course dangerous especially if you’re on a road bike running 40 to 45 kilometers per hour ,“ Echavez said.
August Benedicto of Tarlac had the perfect belated birthday gift as he emerged first place in the Ironman Filipino Elite category. He said he prayed for a podium finish when he turned 28 years old last Thursday.
“This is a long way away for a former ice vendor from Paniqui, Tarlac,” he said.
Benedicto, a bronze-medalist in the duathlon at the 2007 Southeast Asian Games clocked in at 4:27:39 followed by Franklin Penalosa of Makati City who finished at 4:35:28.
In third place was Cebu’s local running star Mendel Lopez with a time of 4:39:24. Lopez said his podium finish was a pleasant surprise after he shifted from running to triathlon only early this year.
“I had difficulty in the swim because my speed suit was hurting my shoulders. I gave it everything I had in the bike segment, but it was all heart during the run,” said Lopez about his first Ironman 70.3. /Correspondent Haide P. Acuña