MANILA, Philippines – Filipino August Benedicto completed a sensational comeback to beat Aussie Mark Jansen and claim the overall championship in the Megaworld Ironman 70.3 Philippines at The Mactan Newtown in Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu on Sunday, August 7.
Benedicto rallied from as far back as 40th place after the opening swim leg before he clawed his way back to contention with a strong finish in the highlight bike event, a three-loop race at the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway.
He then moved to fourth going into the deciding run and took over, zooming past Jansen and compatriots Jonathan Pascua and Satur Salem in the 12.8km mark. He stormed to victory with a time of 4:29:16 over the 1.9km swim, 90km bike, and 21km run course.
The veteran campaigner had times of 35:17 (swim), 2:57:21 (bike), and 1:29:43 (run).
“I thank God for giving me the strength and to all the Cebuanos for their support,” said Benedicto as he drew inspiration from the fans who witnessed the race. “I was groggy and exhausted, but hearing their cheers, I was energized.”
Meanwhile, Ines Santiago defied the odds, including the effects of menstrual cycle, as she reigned in the distaff side of the event – which staked 12 age group titles – to capture the overall crown, along with the 40-44 trophy in 5:23:14.
“When I woke up, I got my period and that was a tough challenge. I started bleeding at the run but you know, girl power,” said the 40-year-old Santiago, a businesswoman from Pulupandan town, Negros Occidental and a part-time teacher at the University of Asia and the Pacific.
Salem flashed his superb riding skills again to get on track for a second endurance race title after topping the Sun Life 5150 Bohol last month but lost steam together with Jonathan Pagaura, enabling Benedicto, Jansen, and John Alcala to snatch the top three places.
Jansen clocked 4:36:05 for runner-up honors while Alcala came in third in 4:37:54 followed by Salem (4:38:39), Jailani Lamama (4:39:38), Leonard Rondina (4:43:09), Czech Petr Lukosz (4:43:39) Jorry Young (4:44:01), Mervin Santiago (4:44:08), and Abdul Rahman Toroganan (4:46:00).
Lukosz, tipped to rule the event after topping the full IRONMAN in Subic last March, moved from 10th in swim to sixth in bike but also faded in the last half of the grueling run and wound up seventh.
Pagaura trailed Salem by just over a minute after the bike leg but fizzled out like Lukosz, falling to 17th in 4:55:39.
Team Spectrum Nephro Mayo bagged the overall championship in team relay with a 4:11:40, beating Team Go4less1 (4:14:02) and Team Spectrum Renal Specialty (4:15:01).
Team Go4lessW1 topped the female relay division in 5:27:17 and bested Team Christifidelis Briz (5:28:49) and Team Tripulante Sa Mactan4 (5:51:30), with TSN Mayo also claiming the male relay plum.
Team Spectrum Renal Specialty nailed the mixed relay title in 4:15:01, beating Team Spectrum Mayo Kidney Care (4:18:07) and Team Andotsports (4:26:02).– Rappler.com