Three years ago, Pete Jacobs finished fourth in the inaugural Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines. Last year, he beat defending champion Terenzo Bozzone by a few minutes. This year, the Australian outran the field, on a suspect left foot no less, by over 20 minutes to successfully defend his title and snare a precious slot to the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii this coming October.
There were a total of 55 slots for the Ironman Las Vegas (for this coming September 11) and Kona World Championship (October 8) that were available for the winners. “Because of our proven track record of excellence, the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines will serve as a qualifier for the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii and Ironman World Championships 70.3 in Las Vegas, Nevada this year,” said a proud Wilfred Steven Uytengsu, CEO of Alaska Milk Corporation and Sunrise Events which acquired a three-year contract to host the Ironman four years ago. “Slots to the best and most prestigious triathlon race in the world will be made available to the top 30 triathletes in the age group categories.”
Jacobs topped the course in 3:51:43, which was significantly better than his 3:58:41 winning time last year in a far more difficult course. But the way he blew away a field that included American Jesse Thomas and longtime rival Cameron Brown, among others, was nothing short of amazing considering that the torrential downpour made the entire course somewhat more difficult.
The Australian not only repeated as champion but he also duplicated his feat from last year by topping all the different stages — swim, bike, and run courses — of the race. He finished his best suit in the race — the swim leg — in 24:17. With Thomas breathing down his neck, Jacobs came out first at the bike leg at 2:05:55. But it was in the run course where he blew away everyone as he hit the tape at 1:18:40 for the win.
“Pete Jacobs is astiiiiiiiiiiiggg!” bellowed veteran race announcer Whit Raymond as the champ came within sight of the finish line. “He beat his time from last year in a more difficult course and maybe just as difficult conditions. He is a true Ironman warrior!”
The 90km bike route had riders pedal all the way to the town of Goa instead of the Nato Port for the turnaround. That stretch is exactly 45km from the starting point in CWC that snakes through the Puentabella Highway.
The 21km run route is a full 21k loop versus the two 10.5k laps of 2009 and 2010. And at the heart of the run is a brutal 9km stretch dubbed “the rice cooker” as it’s nothing but rice paddies all around with no shade for protection from the sun unlike across the highway.
While the rain stifled the heat it by no means made the course any less difficult.
“The visibility was poor out there during the bike course,” said Jacobs. “I was a little slower out there but I’m sure so was everyone else.”
While Jacobs slowed down, once he got on terra firma for the run, his foot felt fine and he found his second wind to beat the field. Thomas came in at second with the time of 4:12:30 while Brown, feeling somewhat ill at the extremes in temperature, came in at third place at 4:12:54.
Belinda Granger, outsprinted Amanda Stevens in the homestretch to win the women’s pro category at 4:26:23. Stevens, a cancer-survivor who crossed the finish line a little over two seconds later at 4:28:34, looked somewhat dismayed as she crossed the finish line. Stevens practically led her group almost throughout the entire race until Granger put on one final burst of energy to outrun her in the end. But the cheers of the crowd lifted her up and she flashed her winsome smile and waved.
“The desire to do something extraordinary with my life came after it was nearly taken away from me. Cancer is a horrible disease. After I got better, I promised myself that I would follow my dreams. I may not be the fastest pro out on the race course but I am the most grateful.” said Amanda who heard of the race from Bozzone who said it must be on everyone’s race calendar. “But to come close is just as good because it showed that I can do it.”
American Bree Wee came in at third 4:39:37 underscoring how close the competition was.
Filipino Elite triathlete Arland Macasieb was the top Filipino finisher (and ninth overall) with the time of 4:26:31 while August Benedicto finished second for the locals with the time of 4:35:04 while last year’s champion Neil Catiil placed third at 4:38:10.
Monica Torres won a third consecutive Ironman Philippines title in the Filipino elite women’s category with a time of 4:55:15.
“This is going down as one of my best ever races,” said a visibly happy Jacobs outside the Alaska Media Center hours after the race. “I won here last year. And this year, I spent my honeymoon with my wife Jamie in Caramoan right before this race. Now, it’s simply mind-blowing to win it all over again in such a lovely place with all these smiling people. I never felt more loved!”