Strong finishes net Reed, Steffen Ironman 70.3 As-Pac crown

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Australian Tim Reed (left) dominates the field to retain the men’s title while Swiss Caroline Steffen toughens up in the run stage to regain the women’s crown in Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championships presented by Ford in Cebu on Sunday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Australian Tim Reed (left) dominates the field to retain the men’s title while Swiss Caroline Steffen toughens up in the run stage to regain the women’s crown in Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championships presented by Ford in Cebu on Sunday. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Australian Tim Reed and Swiss Caroline Steffen fended off the challenge of tough rivals with their blistering finish to repeat as champions yesterday in the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championship presented by Ford in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.

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Reed covered the 1.9K swim, 90K bike, 21K run race in 3:51:46 to beat the legendary Craig Alexander (3:55:01) and Sam Betten (3:57:15) in an all-Aussie podium finish in the event that drew a record 2,900 triathletes from 43 countries.

Reed’s fellow Alaska Tri Aspire bet Steffen won her fifth straight IM 70.3 race in the Province of Cebu, submitting her fastest time of 4:16:19 in the challenging course that started and ended at Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa.

Radka Vodickova of the Czech Republic, who came out of the water first and kept pace until Steffen accelerated at the onset of the run, settled for the silver with 4:18:29. Australian Sarah Crowley (4:21:53) took the bronze.

Birthday boy August Benedicto and Monica Torres shared the limelight in the event produced and organized by Sunrise Events, Inc. and backed by Cobra as title sponsor with Ford as presenting sponsor and Globe Telecom as official wireless and broadband service partner with triumphs in the Filipino elite division.

Alaska triathlete Benedicto, who turned 32 last week, wiped out a two-minute deficit entering the footrace to complete a four-peat in this historic resort city with 4:26:46. Paul Jumamil (4:27:49) and John Leerams Chicano (4:28:04) settled for runner-up honors.

A dominant Torres reigned supreme in the distaff side with her 4:45:54 clocking, beating Maria Hodges (5:07:02) with plenty to spare.

Coming out of the bike leg in a six-man lead pack, Reed made his move at the start of the run and opened an 18-second lead against his closest pursuer, five-time world champ Alexander. By the 6K mark, he had widened the gap to 54 seconds and went on breast the tape nearly two minutes ahead of the 43-year-old Alexander.

“I really pushed hard and I paid for it; About 5-6 kilometers in, I was feeling pretty crook (unwell) and wondered if I would start walking, get things back under control, get some fluid in. But I feel like that strategy worked for me last year so I just went for it again,” said Reed, who also topped the IM 70.3 race in Cebu in 2015.

Steffen made it 5-for-5 in Cebu.

“I’m pretty stoked; it’s a unique feeling to the race five times in a row,” said the Swiss star.

Reed and Steffen each pocketed $14,000 for the victory in event sponsored by major sponsors Philippine Airlines, Summit Water, 2Go Express, Asics, Gatorade, Prudential Guarantee, Oakley and Timex.

Other backers were Department of Tourism, Tourism Promotions Board, David’s Salon, Intercare, Gu Gel, Kenneth Cobonpue, Megaworld Mactan Newtown, Sun Life Financial, TYR, The Philippine Star, ABS-CBN Sports+Action, TriLife Magazine, AsiaTri, Finisher Pix, Xurpas, Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa, Be Resorts Mactan, Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan, Waterfront Hotel and Casino Mactan, Movenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu and Active Network.

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