MERVIN SANTIAGO and Jethro Ramos head the big roster of Filipinos girding for another test of power and endurance against foreign aces in the Century Tuna full Ironman Philippines’ third edition on Sunday in Subic Bay.
Santiago, who placed fourth in last year’s staging of the exacting 3.8-km swim, 180-km bike and 42-km run race, and Ramos, winner of 2022 Penong’s 5150 Davao, will be among the 202 local triathletes chasing the overall championship and seeking to end the visitors’ reign in the country’s top triathlon destination.
Seychelle’s Nick Baldwin topped the inaugural full Ironman Philippines in 2018 before Lukosz prevailed over Thomas Nteliopolous of Greece and Filipino Luigi Robles in stifling conditions when the sport’s flagship event was held in post-pandemic last year.
Elmer Santiago, the better half of the country’s power couple, the other being women’s full IM champ Ines, and duathlon king Edgar Puruganan are also set to duke it out, not only for the coveted overall plum but also for spots in two Ironman World Championships.
Fifty slots will be staked for the IM world meet in Nice (France) in September and another 25 seats will be up for grabs in the Kona, Hawaii championship in October, according to the organizing The Ironman Group/Sunrise Events Inc.
Other locals clashing for top overall honors and age-group titles are John Nino Monte, Pol Buencamino, Paolo Leaño, Rene Tayag, Lean Soto, Ramil Ranario, Gabriel Peña, Reuven Alzaga, Ralph Lagrisola, Jemuel Clemente, John Carlo Baguyo, John Raymund Ramos, John Lester David and Eric Juban among others.
Evangeline Endaya, meanwhile, targets the top podium finish in the women’s side of the race sponsored by Century Pacific Food, Inc. through its top brand Century Tuna, in the absence of compatriot and last year’s winner Ines Santiago, who has opted to compete in the Subic 70.3 triathlon.
The 41-year-old Negrense has after already clinched a berth in the World Championship after topping the Ironman 70.3 in Cebu last year.
But Endaya will have her hands full against a slew of tough rivals, including fellow locals Maryfel Aumentado, Nylah Bautista, Alessandra Castañeda, Jennifer Uy, Sarah Eraña and Joann Caralian.
Japan has 30 entries, the US has 16 and Korea has 10 competitors in the premier event, which has lured 334 entries from 33 countries with 90 vying in the 45-49 age category and 65 in the 40-44 bracket of the event backed by Asia supplier partners Always Advancing, Ekoi and Nirvana; media partners Outside and Sportgraf.com; venue host Subic Bay, and Lightwater, NLEX/SCTEX, 2Go and Prudential Guarantee.
Registration is ongoing with deadline set tomorrow (Thursday). For listup, visit www.ironman.com/ironmanphilippines or www.ironman.com/im703-subicbay.
Meanwhile, the Subic 70.3 triathlon, also slated Sunday, has drawn 564 participants with 165 more clashing in the Ironkids on Saturday.
Fifty-six teams, on the other hand, gear up for the IM 70.3 relay which features the all-male, all-female and mixed events.