Australia’s two-time Olympian, Courtney Atkinson, won the 2013 Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines in a rainy race held in the province of Cebu last Sunday, August 4.
Atkinson, who was supposedly here in Cebu for a romantic getaway with his wife in an island, beat his fellow Australians including Ironman Philippines’ three-time defending champion Pete Jacobs, who came in second. David Dellow, another Aussie, finished third in the triathlon.
A slim cushion separated Atkinson from Jacobs. Atkinson finished the 1.9-kilometer swim course in the wavy waters in Shangrila’s Mactan Resort and Spa in Lapu-lapu City on top of the pros but with only two seconds ahead of Jacobs.
Atkinson upped his lead after the 90-km bike race into almost four minutes but Jacobs threatened him when he narrowed the gap with just under a minute into the 21.1-km run course.
This was just the second time Atkinson joined a 70.3 Ironman race. The Aussie thanked the Cebuano crowd’s “roars” throughout the racecourse. He also thanked Alaska Milk President and Chief Executive Officer Wilfred Uytengsu for the race and Shangrila for hosting most of the events in their grounds.
“I love to come back to Cebu. It is an amazing place and (Ironman) Cebu is an amazing race,” said Atkinson, who was also impressed with the splendor of Shangrila.
The Aussie stepped on the finish line in 3:58:07. Jacobs finished in 3:59:09 while Dellow arrived in 4:02:22.
Jacobs said he expected that Atkinson would give him the biggest challenge throughout the race. He said the rainy weather did not bother him but in fact it made him comfortable especially in the run track.
In the women’s division, defending champion Caroline Steffen continued her supremacy in the race beating her closest rival Bree Wee by more than 11 eleven minutes. She came in at 4:16:12; Bree Wee finished at 4:27:49 while Belinda Granger followed at 4:33:50.
The pros said the race was “one of the best in the world” and that is why they keep on coming back. Jacobs said they are always stress free and relaxed being with really happy Filipino people.
According to Granger said she and her husband have been coming back to the Philippines for years now and they love it. “It’s a great destination here in Cebu.The best part of the race is when Atkinson popped up and screamed at the crowd especially the kids in the last part of the race”, Granger added.
Banjo Norte was the first Filipino elite to finish the race and placed13th overall. August Benedicto, last year’s top Filipino finisher, slid to second place while John Philip Duenas finished third. They placed 18th and 19th overall, respectively.
“Napakaganda dito sa Cebu lalo na sa bike course dahil maraming nag checheer sayo nang go langnang go, huwagkangaayaw, think positive. Nagpapasalamatakosamgabatasa run course kasinapupushkatalagakasi nag checheersilasa ‘yo,” said Norte, who was just an Alaska, team TBB trainee few months ago.
The Philippines’ top professional triathlete, Monica Torres, was in the top five finishers overall. The top finisher of the 2012 Nautica Triathlon in Malibu, California, Torres finished the race in 4:52:08.
The team of Blacked Eyed Peas member Filipino-American Allan Pineda, popularly known as Apl.de.Ap., joined the relay category. He participated in the bike race. He said he was so inspired during the race when the crowd cheered for him.
“The crowd was so loud that I had to look good the whole time. You know I have to show off like I’m really doing during the race. So that actually made me go faster than I thought,” he said.
The artist said he joined the Ironman to spread his advocacies for youth empowerment, education through music and technology and peace in Mindanao as a Philippine Ambassador for Peace. He also informed the media about his Apl.De.Ap Foundation and his plan to hold a bike race in Mindanao.
“Because I was so inspired and so popped up, I announced that will hold a bike race throughout Mindanao for peace,” said Apl, who will join again th Ironman in Cebu next year.
Governor Hilario Davide III, pulled the race’ kick-off shot. At the closing ceremonies in the afternoon, Provincial Administrator Atty. Mark Tolentino represented him.
In his message, Tolentino said he hoped the triathletes and their family enjoyed the event, saying they tried their best to make the racecourse safe and secured for the triathletes’ timely arrival at the finish line.
Most of the events were held in Lapu-lapu City. The bike race, however, includes the coastal routes of cities of Mandaue, Cebu and Talisay.
Uytengsu said he hoped the race left the visitors with so many good memories. He also thanked the spectators as well as the provincial government and Governor Hilario, Lapu-lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza.
Kenneth Cobonpue, an internationally renowned designer,designed the medals for the second time.
According to Uytensgu, He said the registration of participants for 2013 Ironman Philippines in Cebu was sold out in just four days. It was participated by around 2,000 triathletes from across 35 countries.
He urged the participants that they will have an early registration for the 2014 race. (Xerxes Alkuino)