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Former IRONMAN champs target age-group success

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Six former champions, among them two full IRONMAN winners, are shifting their focus to the age-group competition as they step back to make way for the return of elite professional in the IRONMAN 70.3 Lapu-Lapu set to blast Sunday (April 21) in Mactan, Cebu.

Czech Petr Lukosz and Dutch Eric van der Linden will still be aiming for the overall championship in the men’s division of the challenging 1.9 km swim, 90km bike and 21k run race but might opt to concentrate on their performances within their respective age divisions, given the high level of competition expected in the main event, which boasts a world-class roster of professionals.

Lukosz, who triumphed under tough conditions to claim the full IRONMAN title in Subic in 2022, leads the field in the 40-44 age category, while Van Linde, who succeeded Lukosz the following year, competes in the 50-54 age division.

Local standout John Alcala, who emerged victories in the international IRONMAN 70.3 Puerto Princesa in 2022 and dominated the IM 70.3 Subic last year, headlines the men’s 30-34 age class in the event presented by Megaworld and The Mactan Newtown.

In the women’s category, Leyann Ramos, the overall champion in last year’s IM 70.3 Puerto Princesa, is a notable contender in the 30-34 age group, while Ines Santiago, who shared top honors with Alcala in Subic, leads the 40-44 age class in the top endurance race organized by The IRONMAN Group.

Ramo and Santiago face tough competition in their quest for titles with to be challenged by the likes of Malgorzata Nowak, Almira Lopez, Christy So, Christy Leung, Rhia Stawicki, Fatima Casimiro-Pineda, Katrina Arellano, Christi Chan, Aiprel Patalinjug, Alexandra Bolzonello of Australia and former golf champion Mia Piccio.

Santiago, on the other hand, gears up for a fierce battle with Sarah Pelayo, Sarah Eraña, Pearl Madrigal, Rhea Siangko, Wanlun Tsai, Fumi Watanabe, Thuha Tran, Sheila Co and Maryfel Aumentado, among others.

Singapore’s Ling Er Choo, who gained prominence in the triathlon scene by bucking tall odds to win the IM 70.3 Puerto Princesa in 2022, heads the 35-39 women’s roster which includes Mitch Otsuru-Park, Yuko Takahashi, Bianca Marcon, Nicole Duenas. Danika Aguilar, Rose Navarro and Genevieve Zozobrado.

The event, supported by Lapu Lapu City, Municipality of Cordova, Cebu City, 2Go, Aboitiz Infracapital, CCLEX, Lightwater, OneSports+ on Cignal, the Philippine Star, Sante, Sportograf, has attracted 1,353 participants, including 14 men’s pros and 13 women, ensuring an exciting racing experience, particularly for those competing in the age-group categories.

Other division titles includes the 18-24, 25-29, 50-54, 55-59, 60-65, 65-69, 70-74 and 75-and-above, with 308 participants taking part in relay events, featuring the all-make, all-female and mixed team.

Meanwhile, seven pro athletes will grace the Reyna Bulakna 5K Run set at 5 p.m. today (Friday) at the Liberty Shrine. A total of 622 participants, including transgender women and members of the female LGBTQ community, are joining the fun run held to celebrate women’s participation in sports.

The all-female tun, named in honor of Lapu-Lapu’s wife Bulakna, will kick off the weekend racing festival, which includes the RLC IRONKIDS event tomorrow (Saturday) and culminates in the IRONMAN 70.3 Lapu-Lapu on Sunday.


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