622 participants race it out at scenic Playa Laiya in Batangas
Good weather and a great deal of sportsmanship prevailed at the 2013 Tri United 2, which attracted 622 triathletes, more than two-thirds (430) of whom raced it out in the long distance category. Top bet and early favorite Nikko Huelgas reclaimed his status as the top triathlete as he pulled off a sub-three-hour finish.
Huelgas was teary eyed at the finish line and cited that Tri United is proving to be his “lucky charm,” as it was his strongest finish in the recent triathlons that he joined. Huelgas recorded a time of two hours, 57 minutes and 21 seconds.
“It’s my first time to join the long distance, I am very happy with my race. I never thought I would go sub three hours because my time last year was one hour and 30 minutes in the sprint distance category, where I also finished first. So I really think that Tri United is my lucky charm. I will come back here every year,” said Huelgas, team captain of the Philippine National Triathlon Team.
Alex Panlilio, head of Tri United’s main sponsor Unilab Active Health, said once again the venue provided an idyllic background to an ideal triathlon. “Everybody was telling me that the race was really good. I give credit to the organizers and of course, the local government of San Juan who made sure that everybody has a safe race. The weather was really good too,” said Panlilio.
Fellow national team member Jonard Saim followed Huelgas at second place with a time of 2:58:18 in the 2-km swim, 60-km bike and 15-km run long distance category. Benjamin Rana Jr. of Team Unilab Active Health placed third at 3:05:58.
German Anna Stroh (Tri Mac Team) was a surprise winner in the female elite long distance division, who started slow in the swim and bike leg but overtook former national champions Sandra Araullo-Gonzales (PLDT-Bike King) and Ani de Leon-Brown (Team Unilab Active Health). Stroh timed 3:19:58 while Araullo-Gonzales (3:30:16) and De Leon-Brown (3:31:02) who came in second and third, respectively.
Organizers Bike King and Unilab Active Health are thankful to the support of triathletes, from the elites down to the teens. This year, Tri United added the ‘Tri United Teens’ category in its tri races.
According to organizer Raul Cuevas of Bike King, this is meant to bridge the gap of triathletes 8-12 and age groupers 18 and up, and to encourage younger triathletes to compete and level up. “We have triathlon races for kids and adults, but none yet for those in between. So we thought, we would focus on the teenage triathletes and the response has been good so far.” The teen event of Tri United 2 is also a qualifier for the Asian elimination for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games.
Top winners among the teen triathletes were: National Tri Team member Jimuel Patilan (1:04:34) in the male sprint distance and Magali Echauz of Team Unilab Active Health (1:14:06) in the female sprint distance for the 15-16 age category. Allen Santiago (1:02:40) of the National Tri Team and Bea Hufana (1:26:10) of Fit Plus topped the 17 to 18 sprint distance category for male and female, respectively.
Meanwhile, Fitness First emerged as the top among the triathlon teams that joined Tri United 2 in the team category. It was followed by team Unilab Active Health and team Sante Barley.
The one-day Tri United 2 was composed of long distance (2km swim-60km bike-15km run) for the long distance event and sprint distance (750m swim-20km bike-5km run). Tri United 3, the age-group and elite championship, will be held on October 27. The venue and registration details will be announced soon.