It started with a crystal clear ocean swim amidst tropical fish, followed by a windy bike with Tour de France crowds and ended with perhaps the most torturous run you will ever experience. This was Ironman 70.3 Philippines.
Pete Jacobs (AUS) and Cameron Brown (NZL) have been coming to race here in the Philippines since it started in 2009. This weekend, Jacobs was going for a hat trick of wins in a race he now has firmly scheduled on his calendar, while Brown was going for the jugular, hoping to beat him to the top step after struggling with illness in previous years. Brown was feeling good and the year, so far, has proven there is much left in this 40-year-old Kiwi’s legs.
It was all shaping up nicely for Jacobs though, right from the gun. After admitting in transition he would be happy to sneak out the swim with Amanda Stevens, Jacobs was first out the swim and the only athlete to duck under 22 minutes for the 1.9KM. With a 54 second lead out of transition, Jacobs was chased by Canada’s Matthew O’Halloran, who led the chase closely followed by Brown. Working hard, Brown caught up to Jacobs and overtook to enter T2 in first.
But Jacobs was out on the run first by a second. In fact, they were running side by side. But by 5 km Jacobs had opened up a lead. By the time they reached half way, though, the lead was not growing. And it was Brown who appeared stronger on the second half.
The finish line was waiting and, when reports said it was Jacobs who was running home, the huge crowds on the golf course in the ground of the Shangri-La Resort and Spa impatiently waited. And waited. When the four-hour mark went by even emcee Whit Raymond was growing impatient. Where was Jacobs?
Just how hot and challenging out there it was for athletes today cannot be put into words. Simply put you would have to do it to feel it. And, when Jacobs crossed the line in 4:07, the elation at a third title and completion of a tough run was evident on the Aussies face.
“Winning here three times in the Philippines is special and I look forward to coming back and making it four. The supporters out there were amazing and that was by far the toughest Philippines 70.3 of them all – and I ran well!”
A little under two minutes behind Jacobs, Brown crossed the line. He, too, was blown away by the crowds that had come out in there thousands to cheer.
“The Philippine people are just amazing, that’s what makes this race special and why I keep coming back. The girls were screaming so much I have never seen anything like it in the 25 years I have been in the sport.”
The Canadian with a Philippine heart, Matheiu O’Halloran, rounded out the podium in third.
In the ladies race Amanda Stevens (USA) led out of the swim and started the bike with a healthy three-minute buffer. In pursuit, and hunting her down, though, was Caroline Steffen (SUI), Belinda Granger (AUS) and Bree Wee (USA). Her lead was to be short-lived and the hungry pack soon reeled her in and, after sitting with the group for a while, Steffen eased away and came into T2 with a five-minute lead.
The question was never really who was going to win – (so long as Steffen suffered no mechanicals). The questions were by how much and who was going to take second and third?
It was to be Bree Wee’s day. Wee and Granger started the run within a few seconds of one another, but it was Wee who had the stronger legs in today’s torturous conditions. Granger described the run turn out at Discovery Point as ‘death.’ But, despite the Aussie’s dislike for the run, she had nothing but praise for the race today.
“I have never experienced that amount of support out there on the bike before. I think that every single person that lives on the island and surrounds the island was out there cheering. You guys should be extremely proud of yourselves. Never have I experienced that in all my years of racing!”
Steffen won by seven minutes and she said she would slow down! Yesterday Steffen’s teammate Nicola Spirig won Olympic triathlon gold for Switzerland. She said she was so excited last night it was hard to sleep.
“I know how hard our coach, Brett Sutton has worked with Nicola and am super happy for him and it feels amazing to take my first title here!”
First male age grouper and third overall today was Assad Attamimi with a 4:17:47. For the women Christina Jackson come home in 4:37:28 to take the title of first age grouper overall.
Coming 14th overall was F1 driver Jenson Button. What a way to keep fit and busy in-between F1 races. What next? IRONMAN?
Before the race, men’s winner Jacobs mentioned this is a tradition (returning to Philippines) that he wants to keep going. Jaime, his wife, likens coming here to the beautiful Shangri La like having a second honeymoon. Well, with title number three under his belt, Jacobs can now enjoy that well-deserved break.
PRO Male finishers:
1. JACOBS, PETE AUS 00:21:26 02:15:34 01:27:55 04:07:38
2. BROWN, CAMERON NZL 00:22:37 02:14:14 01:29:18 04:09:01
3. O’HALLORAN, MATHIEU CAN 00:22:16 02:19:59 01:34:38 04:19:32
4. FELBABEL, ERICH HKG 00:25:09 02:19:28 01:39:53 04:27:24
Top 5 PRO Female finishers:
1. STEFFEN, CAROLINE SWI 00:24:03 02:20:43 01:32:49 04:20:48
2. WEE, BREE USA 00:24:04 02:23:41 01:36:31 04:27:24
3. GRANGER, BELINDA AUS 00:24:07 02:23:43 01:41:10 04:32:09
4. STEVENS, AMANDA USA 00:22:21 02:27:05 01:43:51 04:36:19
5. WU, MICHELLE AUS 00:26:17 02:38:05 01:29:14 04:37:07
Top 5 Elite Pilipino finishers:
1. BENEDICTO, AUGUST PHL 00:31:31 02:22:15 01:31:08 04:27:39
2. PENALOSA, FRANKLIN PHL 00:31:52 02:25:29 01:35:09 04:35:28
3. LOPEZ, MENDEL PHL 00:34:39 02:31:35 01:28:25 04:39:24
4. JOPSON, NOY PHL 00:25:03 02:37:46 01:37:03 04:43:15
5. RAFA JR., BENJAMIN PHL 00:29:23 02:26:43 01:44:04 04:43:17
Top 5 Elite Pilipino Female finishers:
1. TORRES, MONICA PHL 00:31:35 02:37:16 01:36:46 04:48:40
2. COLINE LEA, LANGIT PHL 00:24:05 02:41:26 01:59:55 05:09:51
3. KIMANGROBANG, MARION KIM 00:24:02 02:52:08 01:58:34 05:18:04