How sweet it is!-A A +A
Sunday, March 16, 2014
THEY all came prepared but nobody could ever be fully prepared for the elements that the pro athletes encountered on race day.
For the past two years, Ben Allen said he has had all the luck. This year, it seemed, his lucky stars abandoned him.
Running under intense heat is no trouble for Allen as, according to him, he performs better in hot weather condition. But this year, Allen kissed his grand slam goodbye after encountering three crashes and four flat tires in the 2014 Xterra Challenge.
Veteran Daniel Hugo of South Africa capitalized on Allen’s misfortunes, passing him in the bike leg and ultimately winning the premiere division in two hours 48:48 minutes.
Hugo’s training partner Bradley Weiss came in second in 2:56.39. Allen, however, still managed to overcome his catastrophic bike leg and made the podium in 3:21:52.
“The past two years, I had all the luck. I never encountered any mechanical problems. And this year, just is not for me,” said Allen.
If this happened to others, they would’ve just given up. But Allen’s warrior instincts just started kicking in instead.
“I just knew I had to finish the race. I mean, I am very disappointed but I have to move from that and continue racing,” said Allen.
“I took a lot of risks and I ended up in a bush. And then I hit a rock. I knew it was no longer happening but I tried to consolidate my position and just give the best performance that I could give,” said Allen, who was the first swimmer out of water and was enjoying more than one-minute lead in the bike course before disaster struck.
“He (Allen) was leading since the swim leg. He was leading in that first ascent and I closed in and saw him crash and I took over the lead and tried to maintain it until the end,” said Hugo.
While Allen loves racing in the heat, Hugo found the humidity “crazy.”
“In that race, I was just surviving. It was crazy hot,” said Hugo.
Hugo added that the win was made sweeter since finishing second was his training partner and compatriot Bradley Weiss, who finished in 2:56:39.
Hugo said that it has always been an exciting experience racing in Liloan.
“I always feel like a rock star here,” said Hugo. Hugo added he loved swimming with the sunrise and riding and running intimate with the locals.
“You never find this kind of racing ambience anywhere else. In other places, the race courses are usually isolated from the crowd that is why we really appreciate the course in Liloan,” said Hugo.
The finish in the women’s division was the most dramatic. Carina Wasle was starting to celebrate as she was approaching the finish line.
However, Renata Bucher was breathing down her neck and it ended in a sprint to the finish which she won in 3:24:59. Wasle crossed the finish line in tears in 3:25:18.
“It was a really hard race and I was having a hard time in the bike but I was suffering in the run part. I was drained and I was suffering a lot. It was the hardest thing I had to go through. I was mentally and physically drained,” said Bucher.
“I was leading in the bike part but Carina took the run part. Towards the finish, I felt that I still had a little strength left in me so I just went for it,” said Bucher, of her first Xterra Philippines title.
In the Filipino elite, Joseph Miller defended his title winning the men’s division in 3:11:58.
With a finish that is better than some of the pros, Allen invited Miller to join him in training in Australia so he could join the pro ranks next year.
“I just need a few more points so I could go pro,” said Miller.
Franklin Peñalosa came in second in 3:30:37, while Jefferson Tabacon came in third with 3:39:45.
In the women’s division, Joyette Jopson won the title in 5:25, Noemi Andrea Galeos came in second in 5:26:06, while Cianyl Jamae Gonzales came in third in 5:59:53.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 16, 2014.