SUBIC - First-time Philippine visitors dominated the inaugural Safeguard 5150 Triathlon on Sunday at the Subic Bay Freeport.
Australian Mitch Robins finished with a time of 2 hours, 5 minutes and 22 seconds in topping the Men's Pros category and besting 350 triathletes from 14 countries who raced across the eastern part of Subic from the Kamana Sanctuary Resort and Spa.
Coming 55 seconds after Robins was Hungarian veteran Czaba Kuttor, followed by countryman Peter Bajai as the two finished second and third, respectively.
Robins said he felt he ran a smart race, but encountered some trouble when he got snagged by the ropes in the swim leg.
He had some difficulty too, in the running portion due to the oppressive heat that made going uphill, particularly the unshaded roads in Cubi, a little bit tough in the final leg of the course.
Team Hungary atoned in the women’s pro category which Ezter Dudas topped, edging out series favorite Belinda Granger of Australia, who previously won the last two 5150 races in the country.
Finishing in third was Filipina Monica Torres in her first race as a pro.
The 21-year old Dudas, who like Robins was racing in the country for the first time, said she was relieved when the bike leg of the race ended.
She then took advantage of both the swim and run legs - her strong suits - to build a margin against the heavily favored 43-year old Granger, who described the newcomer as “very fast.”
“I was chasing (Dudas) all throughout the race,” the Australian said.
In the Elite category, the men were led by national team mainstay John Chicano, followed by Banjo Norte and Nikko Huelgas.
The women's division was won by Ma. Claire Adorna. Jenny Rose Guerrero took second place, while Ani Karina Brown secured third place.
Raceday weather at the former US Navy base was dry and summer-like, with the heat a constant factor for the triathletes.
Notable participants among the local entries were actor-commercial endorser Matteo Giudicelli, who unfortunately withdrew after the swim leg, citing his lack of preparation, and news reporter Raffy Tima.
Giudicelli’s father Luca fared better as he finished at the top of the 50-54 age category.
Alaska team owner Fred Uytengsu, whose company Sunrise Inc. organized the race, was supposed to compete but withdrew at the last minute due to an illness in the family.
The eldest triathlete at the event, 62-year old Dr. Aloysius Laguno, was also among the finishers in the race, the first of a three-year commitment by Safeguard – one of the newest brand sponsors of triathlon in the country.