ALL he wanted was a romantic getaway in a tropical island, but two-time Olympian Courtney Atkinson ended up beating fellow Australians to rule the pro men’s division of the Cobra Energy Drink 70.3 Ironman Philippines yesterday at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City.
Atkinson, a veteran of the 2008 and 2012 Olympics who has seven International Triathlon Union titles, finished the 1.9-kilometer swim, 90-kilometer bike and 21-kilometer run in 3:58:07. He was more than a minute ahead of three-time champion Pete Jacobs (3:59:09), who settled for second despite slashing some seven minutes from his time last year. David Dellow was third in 4:02:22, while two-time world champion Chris McCormack was fourth in 4:02:22. Brent McMahon got fifth place in 4:04:05.
“What really attracted me and my wife is the idea of being in an island, a perfect romantic getaway, that’s why I signed up for the Ironman 70.3 Philippines. I didn’t expect that I will be up against a very tough field and I consider this race an amazing achievement. This as an ultimate test of endurance. This is my first Ironman
70.3 Philippines but actually my second Ironman 70.3 title this year,” said Atkinson.
Atkinson had defending champion Jacobs chasing him from the start of the race and despite the choppy seas, he was the first to come out of the water in 23:51, slightly ahead of Jacobs.
Atkinson expanded his lead in the 90K bike and completed it in 2:12:39, while Jacobs finished it in 2:16:04.
“My race was not affected by the weather. I just didn’t have enough energy at the start of the bike and was slowly building up my energy in the run,” said Jacobs, who had the best time of 1:15:37 in the run while Atkinson had 1:18.41.
Jacobs, who won last year’s title in 4:07:38, was satisfied with his finish and said Atkinson’s win was phenomenal.
“Second is pretty good enough when you are racing against a very tough field,” said Jacobs.
Atkinson said he enjoyed the cheers from the children along the race route.
“The crowd was pretty amazing. While doing the bike, I was able to see the amazing mountains. The race route was great, I really had a great time,” said Atkinson, who is not planning to join the Ironman World Championships this year.
Meanwhile, Caroline Steffen of Switzerland crossed the finish line in 4:16:12, beating Bree Wee of the United States (4:27:49) by almost 11 minutes. Belinda Granger of Australia settled for third in 4:33:50.
Steffen consider the swim course very challenging due to waves but that didn’t dampened her spirit as she got her energy from the children along the bike and run course.
“I was so happy to see so many children along the bike race course cheering for us, it was pretty amazing. That’s one of the reason I came back because I love the crowd,” Steffen said.
In the 18-24 age group, Chelse Tan and Sara Ng of Singapore took the top spot, while Erika Joy Natividad of the Philippines got third place.
Singaporean Lam Wai Kit also won the men’s 18-24 title in 4:43:18, and was followed by Jeremie Dansereau-Leamieux of Canada in 4:45:28. The best Pinoy finisher was Gianmatteo Guidicelli, who was fifth in 5:21:54.
In the 30-34 age group, Spain’s Pablo Trujillo got the title in 4:40:25, beating Singapore’s Teo Ewin (4:51:05) and Filipino Felipe Sajulga (4:51:49). In the women’s division, Joyete Jopson was the best Pinay finisher at third place in 5:10:57.
Germany’s Anna Stroh won the title in 4:54:53, while Great Britain’s Rowena De Belligny was second in 5:10:13.
Aileen Breen of the Philippines got second place in the 35-39 women’s age group, which was won by Chihiro Endo of Japan in 5:19:02, while Assad Attamimi of Australia own the men’s title in 4:18:28 over Japanese Tomoya Tusuruta (4:35:34) and Filipino Ferdinanand Catabian Li (4:45:59).
Other winners were Bevan Colless and Vikki D’Arcy in the 40-44 age group, Jo Koster and Fiona Ottiger in the 45-49 age group, Koichi Shimizu and Reiko Azami in the 50-54 age group, Alvin Alindogan of the Philippines and in the 50-59 age group and Hideyuki Yoshikawa in the 60-64 age group.
The oldest age group, 65-69, had three entries and was won by Nobou Namai in 6:47:54.
The other two finishers are Noboru Tsukahara (7:03:50) and Antonie De Wilde (7:24:46).