Reed completes Ironman 3-peat, Watkinson is new female champ

Mars G. Alison
Reed completes Ironman 3-peat, Watkinson is new female champ
Tim Reed wins the Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines for the third straight year

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Australian Tim Reed overcame a slow swim start and made it look easy as he completed a hat-trick in the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines when he crossed the finish line with a time of 3 hours, 54 minutes and 7 seconds (3:54:07). 

“You never know, you can’t control how other people race, I knew I was very fit and I knew that I have a good chance,” said Reed. “But if somebody else maybe would have put in a good performance, I’m okay with that, and today was just all about focusing on myself and racing as hard as I could.”

On the women’s side, New Zealand’s Amelia Watkinson improved from her sixth place finish last year and is now the new female title holder with her time of 4:29:17. Not even Watkinson herself had expected such a performance given her slow start to training.

“No, to be honest I’ve had a bit of a slow start to training this year and I had a few setbacks,” said Watkinson when asked if she expected to win the crown long held by Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen. “But I was able to maintain some good swimming and biking so I managed to get a little bit of a lead from the start and I just maintained it through out the day.”  

Steffen did not go for a 6th straight title this year after announcing her pregnancy.

Men’s Contest

Finishing a little more than two minutes behind Reed was the reigning 2016 Xterra world champion Mauricio Mendez, who is racing here for the first time. Mendez clocked the fastest run split at 1:16:55 to make up for his slow swim and bike splits and move up behind Reed.

“I saw him on the first half of the run and I was like ‘oh he’s running a bit quicker.’ He’s a beautiful runner, really talented athlete so I was definitely concerned,” said Reed when asked of his reaction when Mendez started moving up.

Another first timer, Ryan Fisher also of Australia, who competed in last year’s Rio Olympics, defied the heat and finished in third place. He clocked 4:00:20.

Admitting that he was never one of the best swimmers in the field, Reed came out of the 1.9-kilometer swim in fourth place behind fellow Australians Fisher, Sam Betten and Alexander Polizzi.

In the 90-kilometer bike ride, Reed immediately moved up to the front and engaged in a close fight with Fisher and Betten.

“So I got out early in the swim, got right out in the front which is great for me, I’m not  the best swimmer and early on in the bike I made my move to try, so we have a little gap to the rest of the field and I thought it is time to go, and that opened up a few minutes, I was able to do my math,” Reed said.

After getting the lead, Reed didn’t look back especially in the 21-kilometer run, which is known to be his forte among the 3 disciplines of the ironman 70.3 

“And on to the run, I realized that I could lose any fluid as it was too hot, so I run the first 10 kilometers a little bit conservative, trying to get in as many fluid and then in the second half, just opened up a little bit and trying to hold my gap and stay for the win.”

Though Reed was not able to improve his time from last year’s race where he clocked 3:51:46, he still considers his win today a special one.

“Every win is different, this is really pleasing because I’ve really worked hard for this, my wife came to America with me and put up with me doing a lot of training and she’s really supporting me so that make a difference for my family and to me.”

Rounding up the top 5 were Australia’s Timothy Peter Van Berkel who completed the race in 4:02:31 and Canada’s Brent McMahon who clocked 4:05:24. 

Women’s Contest

FIRST-TIMER. 'It is my first time to race in the Philippines. It’s very, very special and colorful with lots of people cheering,' says Amelia Atkinson. Contributed photo

Finishing second to Watkinson was Australian Jacqueline Thistleton who is racing here for the first time. She overcame a bike accident when a spectator suddenly crossed her path. Still, she clocked the best time of 4:35:53 and even managed to hold off a fierce challenge mounted by Kirra Seidel also of Australia.

Thistleton was philosophical about the accident saying that it could have happened anywhere. Despite it, she had good words for the race.

“It is my first time to race in the Philippines. It’s very, very special and colorful with lots of people cheering.”

Seidel, for her part, settled for fourth place as she crossed the finish line just 15 seconds behind Thistleton.

Rounding up the top 5 was Anna Eberhardt, a Hungarian based in Singapore. She clocked 4:49:51.

Asian Elite

The Asian Elite, which replaces the Filipino elite and widened the field had all three Filipinos in the top 3 in the male division.

Cagayan de Oro’s Banjo Norte, who is now based in Cebu as a member of the Rider Omega Tri Team, is the first Asian Elite Filipino champion after breasting the tape first with a time of 4:35:51.

Norte’s teammate Paul Jumamil, finished second with his time of 4:41:35 while Joseph Miller rounded up the top 3 with his time of 4:49:36.

Jumamil and Miller were actually ahead of Norte who was trailing them in the bike ride. He went into the second transition at third place. Then he pulled past Miller in the first 3-kilometer of the run and then overcame Jumamil in the last 7-kilometer of the run. 

“I cannot explain myself but I am very happy that I got first place today after I became a champion here in 2013. It has really been awhile,” Norte said.

The Asian Elite female title went to Leanne Szeto, a Hong Kong national residing in Australia. She clocked 5:16:01. –

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