THE Philippines will be sending its largest contingent ever to race in a full-Ironman distance race outside the country as 119 Filipinos are set to compete on Saturday in Langkawi, Malaysia.
The Langkawi-bound delegation will be bigger than the 90-member team that competed in the Ironman Asia Pacific Championship in Melbourne, Australia last March, according to organizer Vince Garcia at a press conference at Skippy’s Bar and Grill located at Bonifacio Global City.
This year marks the return of the Ironman race to Malaysia, with the course for the 3.8-kilometer swim, 180-km bike ride and 42.2-km run carved on tropical, hilly and demanding terrain passing through traditional kampungs (villages), mangrove clusters and rainforest vistas on Langkawi Island.
Major triathlon teams have at least one representative to Langkawi, widely considered as the third toughest Ironman race in the world. At stake are 40 slots for the prestigious 2015 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.
“That is the recognition everyone is after, to qualify for Kona,” said triathlete Carlo de Guzman of SwimBikeRun.
Garcia, who is also the country’s Paratriathlon team coach, said the team is composed mostly of first-time Ironman Langkawi participants and a number of second- and third-time participants. Each participant will be shouldering his or her own expenses.
Some notable members are celebrity Drew Arellano; ultrarunner Willy Yao who at 60 years old is the most senior member of the group; strong contender Martin Lorenzo; 21-year old Charles Lazaro who is the youngest member and 2014 Cobra Ironman 70.3 Filipina elite champion Joyette Jopson who is considered a strong contender in the distaff side.