Stars shone bright at the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines Asia Pacific Championships presented by Ford held Sunday at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort & Spa in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu.
Led by two of the country’s top leading men in Piolo Pascual and Dingdong Dantes as well as matinee idol Matteo Guidicelli, the celebrity participants more than held their own against a crowded field, which included seasoned triathletes like Tim Reed and Caroline Steffen who eventually repeated as champions.
Considered as one of the most difficult one-day sporting events, the Ironman triathlon is a multi-stage endurance competition involving swimming, cycling and running in immediate succession over varying distances. Ironman 70.3, also known as Half Ironman, is a variant of the event that involves shorter distances for each race.
Other celebrities who joined this year’s competition were Kim Atienza, Paul Jake Castillo, Ivan Carapiet, Bubbles Paraiso, Sam YG, Gretchen Fullido, Bubbles Paraiso, Anthony Pangilinan and daughters Hannah and Ella Pangilinan and Wilfred Uytengsu, whose Sunrise Events, Inc. is the official Philippine licensee of the Ironman 70.3 license by the World Triathlon Corporation.
Also seen at the event but did not participate were Piolo’s son Iñigo Pascual who was there for his dad, TV host Christine Jacob who provided moral support for husband and participant Paco Sandejas, DJ Joyce Pring who was a one-woman cheering squad for beau Sam YG and actress Carla Humphries who welcomed Carapiet at the finished line.
Carapiet, an actor, model and car racer who finished 6th overall and qualified for a slot for the coming Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee ,described Humphries as his “motivation” in an Instagram post.
Most of the other celebrity competitors were just happy to finish the race. During a press conference, actor and bike participant Piolo Pascual said the Ironman 70.3 was the only race that he competes in.
“It’s my third year in the triathlon and feel like an athlete when I’m here. Being in Cebu is like coming home, it always feels like being with family,” Pascual noted.
Dingdong Dantes said his interest in the Ironman triathlon began when “Kuya” Kim Atienza invited him to run with his group that included several triathletes.
“Then I found the time to do some biking and I enjoyed it. So when the opportunity came to race in the Ironman, I decided to sign up for the bike leg of the relay division,” he noted.
“I know this is a commitment for a change of lifestyle that I know I’ll enjoy while I still can. I want to finish strong, fit and happy.”
Both Dantes and Atienza were one in saying that the real competition in the Ironman triathlon was not the other racers but themselves. In an Instagram post after the event, Atienza posted that his time for the swim, bike and run events were “not too bad” for his 49-year-old legs.
Like Atienza, Matteo Guidicelli, who comes from a family of racers, also competed in the swim, bike and run legs of triathlon. A veteran of Ironman competitions for the last five years, Guidicelli said his goal was to simply improve on his finish for the previous year.
But because of his busy schedule, he had only started training two weeks before the event and believed that it might be difficult for him to finish in his intended time of under five hours.
Despite not being fit enough and with no expectations at all, Matteo believed he could break through his “mental barrier” and prove to himself that he could finish the race — which he did as he posted later on Instagram.
“I was trying to keep a consistent pace. When I got to about the 13km mark I started feeling all the pain. This kid beside me started running with me. We paced each other to the finish line. Thanks, bro. When I was about to walk, a runner behind me said ‘that’s not you Matteo, you’re stronger than that.’ That gave me an extra push. Thank you to whoever you were. Much appreciated.”
All celebrities interviewed by InterAksyon for the Ironman 70.3 triathlon vowed to compete again next year as Dantes, in particular, said he hopes to participate in the swim and run categories as well. (E. Sallan, Interaksyon)