Reed, Steffen rule Regent Aguila IRONMAN 70.3

LAPU-LAPU CITY, Cebu: Tim Reed of Australia displayed his trademark tenacity as he topped the male pros category while Caroline Steffen of Switzerland seized her sixth female pros crown with ease in the Regent Aguila IRONMAN 70.3 Philippines powered by Philam Vitality that started and ended at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort & Spa here.

Reed built a six-minute lead in the bike leg then battled cramps during the run phase en route to finishing the 1.9-kilometer swim, 90km bike, 21.1km run in four hours, one minute and 22 seconds. The Australian was elated to reclaim the title he lost last year.

Swiss Caroline Steffen cruises in the closing run stage to cap her romp for a record sixth championship in IRONMAN 70.3 Cebu. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

“I gave everything on the bike. But I think I gave too much because I was cramping from kilometer one in the run. It was just a mental battle. But when you’re racing here in the Philippines, you get so much support,” said the 34-year old Reed, who visibly struggled toward the finish line.

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“It’s no secret that I target this race. It feels like a world championship for me. And you could see that I put everything here. I’m really happy with the result,” added the 2016 70.3 world champion.

Reed, now a four-time Cebu titlist, beat New Zealander Mike Philips by only 47 seconds (4:02:09) while fellow Australian Tim Van Berkel (4:03:12) narrowly defeated Czech Jakub Langhammer (4:03:18) for the last podium spot. Mexican Mauricio Mendez failed to defend the title after being unable to finish the race.

Reed registered 24 minutes and 15 seconds in the swim phase, 2:06:27 in the bike phase and 1:26:29 in the run phase, a fitting follow-up to his 70.3 Subic Bay win last June.

Meanwhile, Steffen pulled away from her rivals early in the swim phase, resulting in a nearly 11-minute advantage at the end of the bike phase. She posted 4:24:10 for her sixth 70.3 crown here in the Queen City of the South.

Tim Reed banks on his riding skills to help anchor his victory, his fourth in eight IRONMAN 70.3 staging in Cebu.

“It feels great. To win for the sixth time in Cebu, it’s not an easy task to come back and do it again and again. I felt really good today. I’m very happy with my performance,” said the 40-year old Steffen, who dominated the Cebu race from 2012 to 2016.

The two-time world Ironman silver medalist Steffen outclassed Australians Dimity Lee Duke (4:36:48) and first-timer Courtney Gilfillan (4:39:18).

Steffen posted 27 minutes and four seconds in the swim phase, 2:17:51 in the bike phase and 1:34:56 in the run phase. She was met with a hug by her 19-month old son Xander at the finish line.

“I think he’s probably too young to realize what’s going on. Maybe in a couple of years time he can look back and I hope he’s proud of what mom achieved. Maybe, he also steps into my footsteps — having fun doing exercise and being active,” she said.

Steffen and Reed each bagged $5,000.

Meanwhile, two-time defending Southeast Asian Games triathlon champion Nikko Huelgas topped the Asian Elite category with a time record of 4:24:56 — his first-ever participation in the 70.3 race.

Huelgas beat compatriot August Benedicto (4:32:44) and Taiwanese Hsieh Yu-Hung (4:36:11).

The top 60 finishers in the race secured a spot in the 2020 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Taupo, New Zealand.

Over 2,300 triathlete joined the Cebu edition of the race.

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