SUBIC — IF there are any more questions on who the country’s best triathlete is, August Benedicto may have just smashed that argument into pieces.
Proving that he belongs with some of the world’s best, the 33-year-old finished the country’s first-ever full Ironman race on Sunday in nine hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds as the first Filipino to the finish line at Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center.
“Napakahirap,” the Paniqui, Tarlac native sighed, reflecting on the grueling journey he had to conquer before completing the 3.8-kilometer swim, 180-kilometer bike, and 42-kilometer run course.
“Bubuhos ang ulan, tapos napakainit. Biglang may hangin na napakalakas. Yun ang extreme sa course. Kaya rin masayang-masaya talaga ako na pag-cross ko ng finish line, maganda rin ang time ko. I finished strong.”
As if the course wasn’t brutal enough, Benedicto also had his fair share of struggles on the course, most notably his problems with his bike in the run-up to the event and even during the race itself.
“Sa una pa lang, ‘di ko talaga inaasahan na sobrang dami kong magiging struggle,” he bared. “Last two days, namroblema ako kasi biglang yung bike ko, yung Di2 ko, hindi gumana kasi yung baterya hindi na-charge, so nag-loose yung battery. May nagpahiram sa akin ng battery, ayun gumana pero sa last 20 kilometers, naubos bigla yung battery,” he recounted.
“Sabi ko, ‘God, bigyan mo ako ng lakas.’ So sa last 20 kilometers na yun, heavy gear, inaakyat ko yung sa SCTEX at pabalik. Yun ang struggle sa akin pero nasa isip ko to just pray lang and believe in God na ma-survive ko yan,” he added.
Not only did Benedicto rule the Asian Elite category in emphatic fashion, he also wound up fifth overall, a tremendous honor given how potent the field was.
It was a special achievement for Benedicto on his 10th year joining Ironman races.
And he was the first to acknowledge that he couldn’t have done it without the support of his fellow Filipinos who provided him the lift he needed to push through the tough Ironman races he joined in.
“Naging buhay ko yung cheers ng mga Pilipino. Ibang-iba talaga kapag mga Pilipino ang sumusuporta,” he said as he got to celebrate his win with his family afterwards. “Napakasaya talaga ng feeling ko kasi talagang napakasuporta ang mga Pilipino sa akin at sa mga Ironman event na ito.”