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Karen Manayon: Cebu’s promising triathlete

By: - September 09, 2023

CEBU CITY, Philippines–Karen Manayon is one of Cebu’s rising triathletes who continues to make waves in local and national races. 

At 21 years old, this Talisay City-native consistently pushes herself to her limits in training and in competitions, taking “baby steps” towards self improvement.

In an interview with CDN Digital through the weekly show, SporsTalk on Youtube, Manayon said her goal is for her to become “better and better everyday.”

(Watch full video below article)

“[My goal] is self improvement. [I just want] to be better and better every day and just take baby steps,” said the second year BS Psychology student of the University of San Carlos, where she is a student-athlete.

Manayon said she started her journey in sports at 13 years old. Since then, she has continued to train hard to become better.

She says it is her own personal choice that she ventured into sports, particularly in triathlon.

Manayon Run

Karen Manayon competes in the run segment of the Sinulog Cebu City Duathlon on August 20, 2023. | photo courtesy of Cyclography

“I enjoy pushing myself to the limits. I also enjoy training together with other athletes,” says Manayon on why she chose to start a career in sports at a young age.

At 13, she said she started with swimming via a summer clinic in Talisay City under the renowned coach Andoy Remolino. 

“Then we were encouraged to swim, bike, and run,” she said.

Manayon has since then been competing in major races here in Cebu and around the country.

At the moment, she manages her time being a student-athlete. Her day consists of training, school, training again, then rest. 

“I just manage my time, [to cope with the schedule]” she said.

Her latest achievement was one of the more notable performances by an athlete in a day.

Manayon triathlon

Karen Manayon stands atop the podium after ruling the Sinulog Cebu City Duathlon last August 20. | Photo from Cyclography via Theresa Conson

Last August 20, Manayon won two races in less than 12 hours. First, she topped the women’s elite division of the Sinulog Cebu City Duathlon (10k run 40k bike  5k run) held in the morning. In the afternoon, she again won the 5-kilometer run of the Color Run. Both races were held at the South Road Properties.

READ MORE: Manayon, Yee rule women, men’s elite categories respectively in Sinulog Duathlon

“I was really surprised because I thought I’d be too tired after the duathlon,” said Manayon.

But she considers the Queen of the Mountain road race her biggest achievement so far.

Though she finished just second to Leslie Gitaruelas, Manayon said this was one of her toughest races.

“My goal in that race was just to finish,” she said.

We could all just imagine how difficult that race was. Here’s the route: They started at Lugo in Borbon, then proceeded to Tabuelan, then to Asturias, and Balamban, where they started the treacherous climb at the Transcentral Highway (TCH) all the way to Tops in Barangay Malubog, Cebu City. The distance? 101 kilometers. Let’s not even get into the elevation.

Still, Manayon managed a second place finish in that race.

She said her inspiration in finishing tough races like that is her family and those who are behind her in her journey as a triathlete.


“I always tell myself to give it my all because I worked hard for this and people who supported me, like my parents, are there,” she said.

Her message to those who want to follow her footsteps? Work hard.

“Just keep on dreaming. And if you dream, you have to work on that. You have to sacrifice and work hard. Just work hard and eventually you’ll reach your goal.” 

Meanwhile, Manayon will be competing in the Go for Gold Sunrise Sprint in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte on Sunday, September 10. It will be a 750-m swim in open water, 20km bike, and 5km run.

She is also set to compete in the National Age Group Aquathlon on October 15 at the Ayala Vermosa Sports Hub. 

Does she still worry about her foes going into races?

Nope. For Manayon, she’d rather focus on herself.

“I just focus on myself because it destroys my mindset [if I think about my opponents.],” said the triathlete who idolizes local triathletes such as Kim Mangrobang and Kim Kilgroe.

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