Bradley Weiss goes all-out for a repeat, Ben Allen seeks redemption while the rest vow to spring a surprise or two in what promises to be an exciting, punishing XTERRA series firing off in Danao, Cebu today.
The heat and the new but exacting course featuring unfamiliar terrains are expected to add up to the challenge for the compact 15-man field, including 11 in the premier men’s side, guaranteeing a spirited battle fir the top purse of $15,000, ranking points and the bragging rights as the first champion of the country’s premier Off-Road Triathlon in Danao.
“I am sure it will continue to be a thrilling battle right until the final race of the series,” said Weiss days before the 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run event organized and produced by Sunrise Events, Inc. headed by general manager Princess Galura.
Weiss rallied from behind to surprise Allen in the last XTERRA series in Albay. But the South African expects to have his hands full in his title-retention bid with Allen raring for a payback and the rest hoping to get a crack at the coveted crown.
“My biggest rivals will be Sam Osborne from New Zealand and Allen, who are both currently ranked higher than myself in Asia Pacific Tour,” said Weiss.
Allen also can’t wait to get back at Weiss and see what the new venue could offer.
“Both Jacqui (Slack-Allen) and I are very excited to race in the Danao region. Cebu is the heart of triathlon in the Philippines and it’s the perfect location for people to visit and enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle,” said Allen.
Japanese Takahiro Ogasawara, Taylor Charlton, Kieran McPherson, Brodie Gardner, Olly Shaw, Alex Roberts, Dan Brown, Will Kelsay and local bet Joseph Miller.
Slack, meanwhile, is the marked triathlete in the women’s side but like Weiss, the ace from Great Britain is wary of her chances against Aussie Carina Wasle, Penny Slater of Australia and American Jessica Koltz.
She, however, is confident of finally snapping a string of heartbreak finishes in the XTERRA series.
“This is my sixth year racing XTERRA Philippines and I have had many runner-up finishes but never managed to win the race. There is always so much excitement around this race and I hope to take the top step on the podium this time,” said Slack, who has posted seven XTERRA world tour victories, including three international triathlon feats.
Meanwhile, the 1.5km swim stage will start and end at the Coco Palms beach resort while the two-loop 40km bike course will pass through the village and barangay roads before the field goes through punishing climbs as they go deeper in the course before tackling the fire roads and rocky terrains.
The finishing 10km run stage, for one, will feature a series of climbs and single track and narrow trails and a course with lots of loose rocks tipped to make or break one’s title bid.
Backers of the event are Alcoplus, Sanicare, The Philippine Star, 2GO Express, Cetaphil, Prudential Guarantee, Columbia, Garmin, Tri Life, Cignal Hyper TV, Rocktape, Gatorade, MNTC, Coca Cola Femsa, Powerade, Wilkins and Storck.
Meanwhile, host Rep. Ramon “Red” Durano VI has guaranteed not only an off-road triathlon to remember for the participants but a kind of hospitality that could rank Danao among the top hosts of any international sporting event.
“This is a great opportunity to promote Danao City,” said Durano. “We will do our best to showcase Danao City as a top tourist destination and provide an unforgettable race to the participants.”
Also up for grabs is the Asian Elite crown worth P120,000 and the duathlon individual title with the 3km run-20km bike-5km run event drawing a huge field.
For details, visit www.xterraphil.com or through social media accounts (fb) xterraNorthPH; (IG) xterranorthph xterrasouthph and hashtag: #xterralaunion and #xterradanao and #xterrasouthph.