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World tilt veterans spice up IM 70.3

Seven from among close to thousand bidders set out for strong finishes in the IRONMAN 70.3 Puerto Princesa reeling off tomorrow in Palawan, all geared up for a test of speed and endurance coming off sorties in two world premier championships.

Mervin Santiago and Aiken Ting expect to crowd the leading bets in the overall individual competitions and in their age-group (30-34) category of the punishing 1.9-kilometer swim-90km bike-21k run race over a top-notch course, raring to flash the form honed up by their stint in the exacting IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

Santiago emerged the first Filipino to cross the finish line at Kona.

Yoejan Prudente, on the other hand, headlines the 18-24 age group division while also eyeing a top podium finish in the overall race together with John Nino Monte (25-29), who both competed in the IM 70.3 St. George in Utah, also last month, along with female triathletes Alessandra Castaneda, Mary Jane Baluyot (35-39), Nylah Bautista (45-49) and Celma Hitalia (55-59).

Castaneda also went on to become the first Filipina to cross the finish line at St. George.

But they will be as much tested as the rest of the 898-triathlete international field, including bets from 25 countries — all set to grind it out in both the individual and age-group competitions.

Three hundred and fifteen more are ready to mix it up in the men’s and women’s relay and the mixed relay, which drew 59 teams numbering to 177 participants.

The blue-ribbon event, organized by the IRONMAN Group/Sunrise Events Inc., also marks the first time that national team members Fer Casares, a gold medalist in mixed relay in the last SEA Games in Hanoi, and Bea Quiambao, a two-time winner of 5150 races in Bohol and Subic this year, will vie in an IM 70.3 setting.

Also featured is Bamboo LODI Rafie Liego, who will compete in the 18-24 age group, while Hanoi Southeast Asian Games medalists Raven Alcoseba and Andrew Remolino, along with Marc Lago, will banner the Go for Gold squad in mixed relay competition, also tipped to go down-to-the-wire.

First-time host Puerto Princess has guaranteed not only a memorable racing experience for both local and foreign participants but also a “race-cation” of sorts with the City in the Forest offering scenic locations, including a number of world-class natural attractions.

Foremost is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park or the Underground River, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and holds a place in the new seven wonders of nature.

Even before its maiden hosting is completed, Puerto Princesa is already looking forward to staging the IM 70.3 next year that will also mark the return of some of the world’s leading and rising pros.

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