LEGAZPI, Albay – Bradley Weiss of South Africa bucked the wet and slippery wet condition then pounced on Aussie Ben Allen’s miscue in the bike stage to retain the men’s crown while New Zealand’s Lizzie Orchard marked her XTERRA Albay debut in impressive fashion before a big crowd on Sunday.
Weiss, 26, came out second to Allen in the 1.5km swim stage on the shores of Lidong at Mayon Rivera but surged ahead as his Aussie rival took a spill in one of the downhill parts of the 35km bike course from Sto. Domingo to the Cansagwa ruins, enabling the South African to take control en route to victory in 2:29:56.
Allen settled for second in 2:33:59 while another Aussie bet Brodie Gardner clocked 2:34:08 for third followed by Japanese Ogasawara Takahiro (2:41:04) and Guam’s Charlie Epperson (2:43:40) in the top off-road triathlon organized by Sunrise Events, Inc. and hosted by the Province of Albay.
Meanwhile, Sunrise Events donated $1,000 to David DeSantis, who joined Xterra Albay to kick off his 16-country tour to raise funds for challenged athletes. A melanoma-stricken triathlete who is now in remission, DeSantis was awarded the Xterra warrior honor in Maui last year for his courageous return to the sport.
"Ben (Allen) fell off in the bike portion that gave me the lead. The rain made the bike part very slippery and technical, but at the same time, the nice and cool weather also made it easier for me to defend my title as compared to last year when it was hot and humid," said Weiss.
Lone Filipino pro Joseph Miller suffered multiple flat tires on his hard-trail bike and struggled to finish ninth out of 10 in the pro division of the event sponsored by 2Go Express as the official logistics and courier partner, Columbia, Finisher Pix and David’s Salon and supported by Shotz Sports Nutrition, DOT/TPB, Cetaphil, Intercare, Human Heart Nature, Prudential Guarantee and Assurance, Inc. Coca Cola Femsa (official hydration partner), and Tri Life Magazine, TV 5 and The Philippine Star (media partner) and Timex (official timing partner).
Like Weiss, Orchard also trailed Jacqui Slack of Great Britain but wrested control in the downhill portion midway in the run stage to snatch the women’s crown on her first try in 2:52:14.
"I have never seen such a huge crowd cheering at the course. The kids' cheers made the bike part feel easy. It makes my first race here in Albay and in the Philippines very memorable, plus of course this is my first time to be a champion as a pro," said the 30-year-old Orchard.
Slack finished second in 2:54:30 while Guam's Mieko Carey came in third with a 3:07:35 clocking.
Philippine triathlon team mainstay John Leerams Chicano shared the spotlight as he emerged as the first Asian elite champion since the country hosted Xterra in 2011.The Asian elite class was added in Xterra-Malaysia last year to give honors to the region's best who have not yet turned pro.
It was actually a double victory for the 23-year-old Chicano, who also kept his Filipino elite title in 2:43:17. He finished fifth overall.
"I lost steam in the bike stage since it was too tough but I’m so happy to score back-to-back win,” said the Olongapo-native Chicano.
Jonard Saim finished second in 2:48:49 while Billy Biag, Emmanuel Comendador and Rosalito Dagoy took the next three spots in 2:48:50, 2:48:53 and 2:50:33, respectively.
Anna Marissa Remegio matched Chicano’s feat as she ruled both the Asian and Filipina elite classes in 3:48:22, beating Angelica Yvonne Limcojo (3:53:57) and Noemi Andrea Galeos (4:15:39).