TIM Reed will defend his pro elite title when the Australian returns to Subic Bay Freeport in what promises to be a tougher Century Tuna Ironman 70.3 on Sunday.
Challenging 'Timbo' Reed in the event’s second edition are fellow Aussies led by Craig 'Crowie' Alexander, Mitch Robins, Sam Betten, Lachlan Kerin and Tim Van Berkel as well as European pros Jonathan Ciavatella (Italy), Patrick Lange (Germany) and Rod De Kanel (France).
Alexander, a three-time Ironman World Champion, was heavily favored last year but had to pull out at the last minute due to injury.
In the distaff side, Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen is a pre-race favorite after being sidelined in last year's race by dehydration. Facing her are Dimity Lee-Duke of Australia, who finished third last year; Bree Wee of the USA; Russia’s Radka Vodickova and Aussie elites Katy Duffield, Kathryn Haesner and Leah Lassche.
Filipino elites will be out in full force headed by 2015 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Nikko Huelgas, August Benedicto and Banjo Norte for the men, and Monica Torres, Ani de Leon-Brown and Maria Hodges in the women’s race.
Reed, a former rugby and basketball player who turned to professional triathlon, cemented his stature in the Asia-Pacific region with several victories and course recordslast year that included Ironman 70.3s in Auckland, Port Macquarie and Subic.
He complemented this with several podium finishes. The tri coach and Saucony endorser has been competing as a pro in the tri circuit since 2010 and is known for racing in his trademark Budgy Smuggler trunks.
The 5-10 Steffen, on the other hand, is a marquee name after spending two years as a member of the Swiss national cycling team and for 10 years also competed for the Swiss junior swimming team prior to entering triathlon.
Nicknamed 'Xena the Warrior Princess,' Steffen is a two-time ITU Long Course World Champion, two-time winner of the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship, a two-time Ironman European champion and runner-up in the 2010 and 2012 Ironman World Championship Hawaii.
Last year also saw her in top form after placing first in Ironman 70.3 Mandurah, Sunshine Coast, Cairns and Vietnam. She is also a three-time Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines champion.
More than 1,360 participants and 60 relay teams are also expected to race for the finish line on Sunday.
The 1.9 kilometer swim will start and end at the Acea Beach in Subic Bay. The adjoining Cubi Airport will be the transition area for the 90km bike course and will use the runway prior to heading for the Subic-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) and terminate at the Subic Bay Convention Center (SBECC). The 21km run will start from SBECC and transit the SBMA en route to the turnaround at Acea Beach with the finish line at SBECC.
The race, organized by Sunrise Events, Inc., will also hold the Underpants Run from the Subic Bay Yacht Club on Saturday morning. This is inspired by the tradition started at Kona, Hawaii, home of the renowned Ironman World Championship. Proceeds from the pre-race event will benefit the National Greening Program of the SBMA Ecology Center.