As a professional triathlete, Australian Sam Betten has raced — and toured — in different countries, but for him, nothing compares to the Philippines.
“The best triathlon races in the world [are in the Philippines]," he said. "I love coming here and giving my absolute all, leaving nothing on the course and going as hard as a I can from start to finish."
In the past six years, Betten, 31, has been in and out of the country, joining races in Subic, Cebu, Bohol and Davao to name a few.
It's not just about the world-famous beaches. He's in love with Filipino hospitality.
“The Filipino people are the nicest in the world," he said. "You’ll feel welcomed and everyone treats you like a family here. I absolutely love this country and all the people here."
He added: "You just feel so welcomed, it’s like when you come to this country, as soon as you arrive, you’re already part of the family.”
Betten, who ruled the Black Arrow Express 5150 in Subic over the weekend, explained how this warmth makes it easier for him to keep going in the very competitive world of triathlon.
“I think that’s very unique in [our sport], we all know how much [it] takes you away sometimes from family, having to commit to the training and those long hours, so for me coming to places like this [makes me feel thankful],” he said.
Before the year ends, Betten will join a 70.3 Ironman race in China next week and a half Ironman race in his home country Australia late November.
For now, he's looking forward to joining the 5150 race in Bohol next year and spending one more week in the country with his partner to relax and unwind.
“I know everyone say that it’s more fun in the Philippines and it really is,” he said. “I wanted to definitely spend more time here in the future and see all the beautiful islands. It’s definitely in my bucket list in the future. I always tell everyone back in Australia that you need to come here and experience what the Philippines is all about.”
And for triathletes the world over, Betten has this message: “It’s really hard to describe in words so I encourage everyone — if you want to do triathlon, whether it’s a sprint, or the 5150, or the 70.3 or the Ironman, you won’t experience anything like that anywhere else in the world except in the Philippines."