LAPU LAPU CITY – Reigning Asia-Pacific champ Tim Reed bested fellow Australian Tim Van Berkel in an exciting sprint finish to rule the record-breaking Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines that started and ended at Shangri-la’s Mactan Resort and Spa Sunday.
The 30-year-old Reed and his good buddy Van Berkel practically stuck with each other throughout the 1.9 k swim, 90k bike and 21.1k run, before the former stepped on the gas and secured the crown in three hours, 46 minutes and three seconds.
Van Berkel came in two seconds later, gaining a few seconds in the final clocking as Reed tripped over the ramp to the finish line just before crossing.
Last year’s winner Brent McMahon, who as at the midpoint of bike play and tried to chase the two ‘Tims’ in the footrace, settled for the bronze this time with 3:50:23.
Swiss Caroline Steffen bucked mechanical trouble and a bike crash to finish the race and repeat as champion of the women’s side.
The left side of her body was hurting following the mishap but Steffen got back up and reached home in 4:23:54, quashing the challenge of Beth Gerdes (4:29:07) and Dimity-Lee Duke (4:29:36) with plenty to spare.
Sharing the spotlight were August Benedicto, who retained the Filipino elite male plum on his 31st birthday, and Monica Torres, who reigned in the distaff side.
Benedicto clocked 4:28:36 to edge John Philip Duenas (4:28:42) and Banjo Norte (4:29:05) in their an equally tough battle. Torres (4:39:37) blitzed past Maria Hodges (4:53:09) and LC Langit (5:05:30) for the tiara.
Reed outclassed a stellar cast in the event that featured an all-time high 2,618 participants from 52 countries.
Mitch Robins (3:55:20) placed fourth followed by five-time world titlist Craig Alexander (3:57:45), Luke McKenzie (3:58:51) and former world champ Pete Jacobs (4:01:23).
“It was such a world-class field today. I was pushed to the absolute limit,” said the 30-year-old Reed, adding he got extra energy from the big Cebuano crowd. “They’re just amazing. I felt like I was racing in the Tour de France with the feeling, the cheers and the dancing.”
Reed and van Berkel engaged in a neck-and-neck battle heading into the final two kilometers at Barangay Punta Engano.
“He (Berkel) is probably stronger than me but I feel I’m a little bit faster if it comes down to a sprint finish. I knew I just had to stay with him until I could see the finish line and then I just go full gas. It worked,” said Reed, who also won the Ironman 70.3 race in Subic last March. “It was a matter of who wanted it the most and I really, really wanted that win.”
The Aussies were pretty much side by side in the swim and alternated the lead in the bike. Reed turned to his expertise in the final push.
“I spent a lot of energy trying to catch Reed and then I finally caught him. We raced together for the last 2K and my sprint finishes against him are not very good. I knew it’s gonna be tough – he’s got a good kick on him. But to be in a sprint finish with the Asia Pacific champion and coming home second (is a good feat),” said Berkel.
Steffen, meanwhile, had to overcome tremendous odds. The first out of swim, Steffen was stalled when her backwheel broke and after fixing it, she suffered a crash, allowing Belinda Granger to overtake. But she didn’t fold up.
“As the defending champion, I felt I like I wanna finish the race and if I had the lead, I think I should win the race. So I gave it a go and never gave up,” said Steffen.
The event is produced and organized by Sunrise Events, Inc. with title sponsor Cobra Energy Drink, powered by Ford Philippines and presented by Summit Water. Others backers are official courier and logistics partner 2Go Express, official footwear and apparel partner Asics, official sports drink Gatorade, race venue partners Shangri-la’s Mactan Resort and Spa, Cebu Province and Lapu-lapu City.