PENNY Slater and Leela Hancox of Australia and Kristy Jennings of New Zealand gear up for another fierce showdown as they slug it out in the women’s pro division of the XTERRA Off-Road Triathlon unfolding this Sunday in Albay, Legazpi City.
The troika saw action in XTERRA Danao, which Carina Wasle ruled last April, with Slater finishing second and Hancox and Jennings placing fourth and fifth, respectively. But a down-to-the-wire battle looms in the upcoming event with a different kind of challenge awaiting the elite field in Albay, particularly in the mountain biking and trail running stages.
Slater remains confident of her chances, particularly in the opening 1.5-kilometer swim leg where she even edged out Wasle in Danao. But Hancox and Jennings hope to strike in the 28-km. bike part and the closing 8-km. run of the event, which marks its return to Albay after a one-year break.
Slater switched from hockey to off-road triathlon in 2015 and recovered from a car accident to qualify for the ITU World Cross Triathlon Championships in 2016. She placed third in the Amateur Female ITU Cross Triathlon World Championships and topped the Nationals Champions Elite – ITU Cross Triathlon last year.
Hancox, on the other hand, has achieved a world ranking of No. 14 after the ITU World Cross Triathlon Championships. She also placed seventh in Xterra Asia-Pacific Tour last year and is currently ranked second in the sport in Australia.
Jennings, meanwhile, came in second in last year’s Penticton ITU Cross Triathlon world tilt with the veteran campaigner also tuning up for next month’s Fyn ITU cross triathlon world tile in Denmark.
Meanwhile, Bradley Weiss looms as the triathlete to beat in the men’s side of the event with the South African going for a sweep of this year’s XTERRA series after topping the Danao stop.
But a slew of talented athletes are out to foil his bid, including New Zealand’s Sam Osborne, who placed second in Danao, third placer Kieran McPherson, also of New Zealand, 2016 XTERRA Asia-Pacific titlist Ben Allen of Australia, Japanese Takahiro Ogasawara, the 2016 XTERRA Saipan winner, Akihiro Maeda, also of Japan, Kiwis Alex Roberts and Olly Shaw and local bet Joseph Miller.
Also on tap in the event, held as part of SEI’s decade of triathlon staging, are the duathlon (2km run-14km bike-4km run) and the lite XTERRA (750km swim-14km bike-4km run). (PR)