Cancer survivor completes triathlon in Albay to benefit handicapped children

Rhadyz B. Barcia

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Cancer survivor completes triathlon in Albay to benefit handicapped children
The 54-year-old cancer survivor completes the XTERRA triathlon in the shadows of Mayon volcano

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – David DeSantis, a 54-year-old cancer survivor from United States, joined the tough Xterra triathlon international competition in Albay with a good cause in mind.

DeSantis competed in the competition to raise awareness and generate funds to benefit the child athletes who are physically challenged.

In all, he joined 16 races in 16 countries and generated $16,000 for the Challenged Athletes Foundation to help the athlete children with physically infirmity.

“I’m trying to race to get back my health and so as to help athletes specifically children with infirmities or amputee to provide artificial leg,” he said.

Despite the rugged terrain, David tried to compete with able bodied participants from different countries. Though he didn’t win the competition, he made it to the finish line.

Xterra 2016 was dominated by foreign triathlon athletes from 13 countries.          

Bradley Weiss, 26, from South Africa defended his title as back-to-back champion of Xterra international triathlon competition on Sunday, February 7 in Albay.

Brandley Weiss runs fast over the rice paddy in Albay during the fierce Xterrra competition. Photo by RHAYDZ B. BARCIA/Rappler

Weiss bested 281 participants, including former champion Ben Allen of Australia, crossing the finish line at two hours, 29 minutes and 56 seconds.

After him was the 2012 champion, arriving the finish line at 2 hours, 33 minutes and 59 seconds.

Ranked third was Brodie Gardner, 29, also of Australia who finished off the complete course of race with just a one-minute lead time at 2 hours, 34 minutes and 8 seconds.

Weiss said that the competition was challenging because of the weather system in Albay and the complex course of terrain.

“Last year was humid. This year was very tricky due to rain with very slippery course,” Weiss said. 

“But the most challenging was the biking course of race, very dangerous and slippery but very inspiring because of the beautiful surroundings with Mayon volcano, especially the presence of friendly Filipino people cheering us on passing through complex course of race. Xterra Albay is the best in the world.” 

Participants went through a single loop starting from 1.5-kilometer-swim on the shores of Lidong village in Sto. Domingo town before the off-road race, passing through the cliff-to-cliff, rocky, grasslands, river bed, sand and tricky trails at the foot of Mayon volcano before reaching the finish line in the historic Cagsawa Ruins in Daraga, Albay.

The international triathlon event was spearheaded by the provincial government of Albay.

The participating triathlon athletes came from Japan, United States, Australia, France, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Slovakia, South Africa,  Finland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Switzerland, Singapore, Vietnam, Guam and the Philippines.

WINNERS. The winners of Xterra international competition (professional category) receive their trophies and prizes during the awarding ceremony held at Cagsawa Ruins Park in Daraga, Albay. Photo by RHAYDZ B. BARCIA/Rappler

‘Best place for triathlons’

Mount Mayon served as the picturesque backdrop throughout the course of the competition. The rough terrain under the shadow of the world’s perfect cone volcano tested the strength and endurance of men and women on bike and on foot.

The finish line is Cagsawa Ruins Park, now declared a National Cultural Treasure.

David Nicholas, managing director XTERRA World Tour, said Albay is the best place in the world for triathlon due to incomparable terrain alongside with very cheerful and friendly people.

“It’s a wonderful place in the world for XTERRA triathlon with lots of fun because of friendly people and beautiful surroundings with perfect Mayon volcano,” Nicholas said. – 

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