BELGIAN Anthony Devos and former national triathlon champion Monica Torres loom as the players to beat in the inaugural staging of the Ilocos Heritage Tri 113 set on Sunday in Ilocos Sur.
The 22-year-old Devos has the best credentials among the men’s entries gunning for the top prize of P50,000 in the 1.9 kilometer, 90-km bike, and 21.1-km grind that starts at Santiago Cove and ends at Heritage Village in Vigan City.
Devos posted a personal best of four hours and 19 minutes in the Ironman 70.3 Philippines set early this year.
While Devos is up against a competitive field in the men’s side, Torres appears a cinch to rule the distaff side of the lung-busting race that passes through Candon City and Ilocos Sur’s six coastal towns.
The Filipina is the local Ironman 70.3's undisputed queen since 2009. (Tri 113 has the equivalent distance of Ironman 70.3; the former expressed in metric and the latter in miles.)
A total of P50,000 purse is also at stake in the women’s class.
“We are going beyond sports and sports tourism, hence, we want the Ilocos Heritage Tri 113 to leave a legacy of greater significance,” said event organizer Congressman Eric Singson, who announced all collected entry fees from the biggest triathlon north of Subic Bay are to be donated to the victims of super-typhoon Yolanda.
Joining hands with Singson in the event are Ilocos Sur governor Ryan Singson, the city governments of Vigan and Candon, Pepsi Cola, Save More SM Market, Extreme Magic Sing, Santiago Cove and Resort and Spa, Vigan Plaza Hotel, and Candon Hotel.
The event serves as highlight of the Feria de Candon, an annual tourism festivity hosted by Candon and the 22 towns of southern Ilocos Sur.
August Benedicto, the country’s former top duathlete, looms as the biggest threat to the title bid of Devos who arrived here last Saturday. The 29-year-old Benedicto showed his readiness for the meet with a runner-up finish in last Sunday’s Tri United 4.
Other contenders expected to crowd Devos are former national triathlon title holder Fil-Am Arland Macasieb and Laguna-based expat Mathieu O’Halloran.
Devos finished seven spots clear of Benedicto in the overall ranking of the 2013 Ironman 70.3 Philippines.
Macasieb, 2011 Ironman 70.3 Philippines and 2012 Bohol Timex 226 winner, was four spots adrift, while O’Halloran, who dominated the standard distance triathlon’s debut in Ilocos Sur, was five spots below.
Former national triathlon champion LC Langit, second only to Torres in the Ironman 70.3 Philippines last year, is the only woman capable of shadowing her.