Timothy Reed is quite picky when it comes to the triathlon races he competes in. But he makes sure that the Cobra IronMan 70.3 Philippines is in his short list for one simple reason.
“It’s simply one of the best in the world,” declared the Australian triathlete who captured his third straight men’s division Pro Elite crown yesterday amid perfect racing conditions at the Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa.
Cebu’s centerpiece sports event, however, took on a tragic turn when a male relay participant died while doing the opening swim leg for his team (see separate story on this page.)
Reed’s glowing review mirrors the collective praise from this year’s participants who can’t seem to have enough of the Cebuanos’ contagious energy and hospitality, not to mention the smooth staging of the event held in Cebu for six years now.
Women’s Pro Elite winner Amelia Watkinson is also all praises for what has been touted the Crown Jewel of 70.3 triathlon in Asia.
“I really love the atmosphere the Philippines put here. All the people and kids at the sidelines really made this a special day,” Watkinson said in a post-match interview.
The Lapu-Lapu City government has deployed thousands of students to line the streets on race day to cheer for the runners and bikers. The Hilutungan Channel is also dotted with colorful vintas loaded with drum-pounding performers to lend the race a fiesta atmosphere. Colorful buntings and tarpaulins fill the race route where drummers are also stationed.
Security is also tight with hundreds of military personnel manning the race route covering the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Cebu and Talisay to ensure the safety of the racers. Medical stations and ambulances are spread throughout the route for prompt action on emergency cases.
Reed emerged fourth-best after the 1.9-kilometer swim discipline but rallied hard in the bike and run legs to win his third straight crown in Cebu.
“Every win is different. This is a really pleasing (one) for me because I worked really hard for this,” said Reed, who clocked 3:54:07 in, besting XTerra world champ Mauricio Mendez of Mexico by more than two minutes. “Today (yesterday) was just all about focusing on myself and racing as hard as I could,” Reed added.
The 22-year-old Mendez, a first-timer in the Cobra IronMan 70.3 Philippines, finished second in 3:56:46 while erstwhile pacesetter Ryan Fisher, also from Australia, settled for third in 4:00:20.
The 26-year-old Watkinson also put on a blistering performance in the bike and run phases to turn a slim two-second lead into a six-minute-and-36-second victory in the Sunrise Events, Inc., organized event.
Watkinson clocked 4:29:17 for an easy win against Australians Jacqueline Thistleton and Kerry Morris (4:39:11).
“I was sixth last year. You always take something from the bad races so it’s not a hindrance to come back and try to be better,” said Watkinson.
Meanwhile, despite the positive feedback, Sunrise Events General Manager Princess Galura said the death of the relay racer and several hitches made this year difficult.
The death of Eric Nadal Mediavillo is the third casualty of the meet.
In 2009, during the first staging of the race in Bicol, Juan Miguel Vazquez succumbed to a stroke. Then in 2012, Cebuano Ramon Igaña Jr. suffered an acute pulmonary embolism while traversing the 90k bike route.
Galura also revealed that there were 72 cases of cramps and heat stroke yesterday not to mention the delay due to power failure.
“We had some issues with the medical, maybe because of the heat or maybe because people didn’t train very well. It’s a lot of things. The spring tide was another issue. We predicted it to be not that strong, but we were wrong. Fortunately, we were able to make some adjustments.”
“We had some problems, but I think overall, the participants were happy. And that’s what is important,” she said.