COURTNEY Atkinson led from start to finish to rule Ironman 70.3 Philippines on Sunday at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City.
The Australian Olympian finished the grueling 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike, and a 13.1-mile run in three hours, 58 minutes, and seven seconds to end the three-year reign of compatriot Pete Jacobs, who also clocked in under four hours at 3:59:09.
David Dellow, another Australian, finished third with a time of 4:02:22, less than a minute faster than two-time world champion Chris McCormack (4:03:15).
Canadian Brent McMahon was the best non-Australian performer in fifth place, clocking in at 4:04:05.
“I came in with very high hopes. I did very well in an Ironman race a few weeks ago,” said Atkinson, a two-time Olympic triathlete, who only tried Ironman 70.3 a month ago in Cairns, Australia in an event that he also won.
Atkinson, who turns 34 on August 15, led in the swim and bike legs before Jacobs tried to recover in the footrace in an effort that fell short.
“I’m a newbie, a novice,” Atkinson said. “I thought I might as well go out there and do the best I can and so far, I have been winning.”
Caroline Steffen of Switzerland defended her title in the women’s division where the lone Filipina bet Monica Torres wound up in fifth spot.
Steffen, using the event to prepare for the world championship in Kona late this year, clocked in at 4:16:12, over 11 minutes ahead of American Bree Wee, who came in at 4:27:49.
“It’s always nice to have a win,” said Steffen, who has competed twice in the world championship. “I had a really good experience last year. This win means a lot. It’s not easy to defend the title. I had a strong swim, I pushed harder in the bike.”
Belinda Granger finished third in 4:33:50, while Jacqui Slack of Germany placed fourth in 4:39:31.
Torres, competing as a pro for the first time after ruling the Filipino elite division for four consecutive years, rounded out the Top Five with a time of 4:52:08, five minutes slower than her time last year.
Torres’ compatriots in Banjo Norte and Alessandra Araullo-Gonzalez ruled their respective divisions int the Filipino elite category.
Norte took advantage as last year’s champion August Benedicto struggled with a defective bike shifter, finishing in 4:26:44.
Benedicto, who lost 10 minutes as he tried to fix his bike, still finished in second place with a time of 4:32:38, while John Philip Duenas took third behind Norte and Benedicto in 4:33:18.
Araullo-Gonzalez topped the Filipino elite women’s race in 5:05:33, followed by Jenny Guerrero (5:20:02) and Ani Karina Brown (5:22:43).
Among the celebrities who finished the race were Drew Arellano, Isabelle Daza, Matteo Guidicelli, Tessa Prieto-Valdez, Erwan Heussaff, Gem Padilla and Sen. Pia Cayetano.