First-time host aims high
IT’S the moment of truth for first-time host Cebu as 700participants open their bid in the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3Philippines.
The event is expected to give Cebu tourism a big boost after it gathered athletes from 31 countries including 14 Pros or licensed triathletes. The event is made up of threesports disciplines— a 1.9K swim, 90K bike ride and 21K run. The swim segment will be held along the Hilutungan Channel frontingShangri-La Macta resort , Movenpick and Portofino resort. The bike segment will start at the Shangri-La parking lot and lead to the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, to cities of Mandaue, Cebu and Talisay then backto Shangri-La. The run will reach five barangays in Lapu-Lapu—Mactan, Pusok, Punta Engano, Buaya and Ibo.
Lapu-Lapu Mayor Paz Radaza , whose city carries the bulk of activities, said the event firms up their bid for Lapu-Lapu city to be a premier sports tourism destination in the country. She cited Lapu-Lapu’s hosting of two Davis Cup tournament lastyear in another 5-star resort.
For the next three years, Cebu will the venue of the Ironman 70.3. Several firsts were marked. When the event opened registration last December 2011, slots sold out in 40 days. Until this week, many signed up for a wait list that reached 450.
Sunrise Events Inc. president Wilfred Steven Uytengsu Jr. said that as much as they want to accommodate the 450, they had to give the participants the “best experience” the could expect in the Philippines.
The open water swim segment is the biggest improvement in the race itself for Uytengsu.
CELEBRITIES TO SPOT
2009 Formula One World Champion Jenson Button of Britain and his fashion model girlfriend Jessica Michibata. Matteo Guidicelli, Sen. Pia Cayetano, Richard Guttierez,Drew Arellano, Alejandro Atienza, Erwan Heussaff, Anthony Pangilinan,Gilbert Remulla Eric Buhain, David Charlton.
The event attracted a total of 14 Pros after two, New Zealand’s Terenzo Bozzone andAustralia’s David Dellow pulled out due to injuries.
Two-time defending champion Pete Jacobs of Australia hopes to nail his third Ironman 70.3 Philippines Pros title today. He calls the Philippines his “favorite” Half-Ironman race. Jacobs finishedsecond in last year’s full Ironman World Championships in Kona Hawaii.
Female defending champion Belinda Granger of Australia faces a good challenge from Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen of Alaska Team TBB. It will be Steffen’s first time to compete in the Philippines. She placed first five days agoin the ITU Long Course World Championships in Spain. Steffen holds the second best time in the worldin the full Ironman at eight hours and 34 minutes. Her personal best in the Half Ironman is 4:01. In 2010, Steffen had placed second also in the Ironman WorldChampionships in Kona Hawaii. She said she looks forward to racing here because it’s good preparation for Kona, Hawaii where the route is hard and hot.
Other pros seeing action are United States’ Chris Lieto,Bree Wee and Amanda Stevens; Australia’s Ali Fitch, Justin Granger andMichelle Wu; New Zealand’s Cameron Brown; Sweden’s Fredrik Croneborg;Hong Kong’s Erich Felbabel and Philippine’s Matthieu O’Halloran andDan Brown. /CORRESPONDENT MARS G. ALISON
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