Mexican Mauricio Mendez and Radka Kahlefeldt of the Czech Republic broke the Aussies’ domination of Philippine triathlon as they topped their respective sides in the pro division of the first Alveo Ironman 70.3 at the Azuela Cove in Sunday in Davao City.
Mendez, 22, flashed superb staying power, rallying in scorching heat in the closing stage of the 1.9K swim, 90K bike, 21K run event backed by title sponsor Alveo and presented by Petron to beat three-time Philippine Ironman 70.3 champion Tim Reed and Tim Van Berkel, both of Australia for the coveted crown.
“That was a hard battle,” said Mendez, the reigning Xterra world champion. “I was in second place until the final 13 kms. The effort was just too hard.”
From fifth in the opening swim part, Mendez worked his way up in the bike stage then outlasted his veteran rivals in the grueling run event to nail his first Ironman 70.3 victory here in 3:50:32.
Reed clocked 3:52:26 to finish second while Van Berkel came in third in 3:53:45 followed by five-time world champion Craig Alexander, also of Australia (3:56:24) and Bradley Weiss of South Africa (3:58:37).
But while Mendez needed to unleash a strong finishing kick to snare the crown, Kahlefeldt dominated the women’s pro side and completed a wire-to-wire triumph in 4:25:38.
She came out on top in the swim leg then sustained her charge in the bike and run, posting a more than 11-minute victory for her sixth career championship.
Japanese Naomi Washizu took runner-up honors in 4:36:53 while many-time Philippine triathlon champion Dimity Lee Duke settled for third in 4:39:12.
Lisa Tyack, also from Australia, clocked 4:41:01 and placed fourth in her first pro race while Kirralee Seidel, also from Down Under, timed 4:53:04 for fifth in the event held in Mindanao for the first time in a decade of triathlon staging by Sunrise Events, Inc.
Mendez still trailed Reed in the early part of the run stage but grabbed the lead in the last seven kms and stayed ahead all the way to the finish.
“When I passed him, I never looked back,” said Mendez.
Reed rued dropping his bottle of power drink off his bike in one of the humps and opted not to stop to get it back in fear of losing precious time.
“I couldn’t afford to stop,” said Reed who also thanked countryman Berkel for sparing a couple of (power) gels.
Rounding out the top 10 of the elite pros were South Africa’s Bradley Weiss (3:58:37) and Kyle Buckingham (4:01:43), Australians Sam Betten (4:03:36), Eric Watson (4:13:59) and Ben Allen (4:18:08) and Canada’s Brent McMahon (4:20:38).
Jorry Ycong emerged as the top Filipino finisher in the race that generated so much interest and a monstrous traffic in and around the city on race day. He locked 4:24:15, followed in the Filipino elite category by August Benedicto (4:25:02), Banjo Norte (4:25:07), Jumalil Paul (4:36:24) and Benjamin Rana (4:40:42).
Other division winners in the event were Moya Johansson from Australia, who topped the 25-29 category in 4:52:00 and Great Britain’s David Watson, who topped the 35-39 group in 4:31:21.
Other backers of the event, hosted by Azuela Cove and Davao City for the first time, were 2Go Express, Powerade, Wilkins Pure Purified Water, Sportswear, TYR, GU, Aboitiz Power, Davao Light, David’s Salon, Intercare, Davao Metro Shuttle, Prudential Guarantee, HyperHD on Cignal, AsiaTri.com, FinisherPix, TriLife and The Philippine STAR, Alaska, AlcoPlus, ApoAgua, Cetaphil, Daylong, Devant, Fern-C, Penong’s Barbecue Seafood and Grill, Sanicare, Storck, Timex, Seda, Park Inn, Waterfront, Marco Polo and Active Network.