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There’s simply no stopping Alcala, Santiago

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF IRONMAN | John Dedeus Alcala finally makes it to the finish of the IRONMAN 70.3 at Subic Bay.

SUBIC — It rained and rained but the downpour hardly stopped nor cooled down the fearless triathletes, who swam, biked and ran the IRONMAN 70.3 Subic Bay with great resolve in exacting conditions Sunday.

John Dedeus Alcala withstood the strong waves and windy conditions in the bike then pushed himself with all the strength he could muster in the closing run stage to pound out the win in 4:43:45 while Ines Santiago dominated the opening swim and cruised to victory in 5:35:59 in her side of the 1.9-kilometer swim, 90km bike and 21km run race at the Subic Bay Boardwalk.

With a pack of bidders from 33 countries still disputing the centerpiece Century Tuna IRONMAN Philippines crowns at press time, Alcala and Santiago took the spotlight in the half-triathlon, including $1,000 each, in damp and cold conditions.

Alcala put up the kind of finish he flaunted in stealing the show — but in stifling heat (4:32:20) — in the inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Puerto Princesa in Palawan last November, racing at his own pace in the swim (39:19) and bike (2:33:21) before pouring it out with a best 1:27:05 clocking in the run leg.

Alcala barely held off young Irienold Reig Jr., who splashed his way to the early lead in 0:31:27 (swim), held sway with a 2:40:07 clocking in bike but failed to match Alcala’s strong finish and big strides, finishing in 1:28:29 for an overall time of 4:44:46.

“It was challenging, especially in the swim and bike because the waves were really rough and when I was on the bike, it was windy and I had to grip on my dropbars so I won’t be affected. But when it was my turn to run, it was okay. I mean, this really couldn’t be called the IRONMAN if isn’t challenging,” Alcala said.

“The turning point I think was on the last 15K. There was someone behind me the whole time and I gave it my all in the last 1k even if I collapsed at the finish,” he added.

The tough swim conditions actually forced the withdrawal of some bidders but Alcala and the rest endured and survived one of the toughest tests in endurance racing.

‘The turning point I think was on the last 15K.’

“I always give my best, to show my family, my sponsors that I gave it my all because what they have contributed is what keeps me going. And this is for my future as well,” Alcala said.

August Benedicto, winner of the IRONMAN 70.3 Cebu last year, wound up third in 4:48:28 with leg clockings of 39:02 (swim)-2:30:40 (bike)-1:34:21 (run), while Kenneth Bonda and Satar Salem took the next two spots in 4:48:33 (37:59-2:33:26-1:32:39) and 4:55:33 (34:03-2:32:15-1:42:37), respectively.

While Alcala needed to unleash a strong finishing kick to steal the men’s overall crown, Santiago pulled away with a big swim start (39:23) then sustained her charge in the next two stages (2:58:29 bike and 1:51:40 run), beating Beverly Cariño by almost 18 minutes.

Cariño timed 5:53:34 (55:28 swim, 3:00:08 bike and 1:51:10 run) while Mary Jane Baluyot posted a 6:04:16 clocking for third, her 2:53:18 time in bike topped Santiago’s effort but she could only post 54:36 in swim and 2:04:08 in the closing run part.

Aside from the cash prizes courtesy of Century Pacific Food COO and EVP Greg Banzon, Alcala and Santiago, along with 28 others, earned berths to the Vinfast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship slated 26 and 27 August in Lahti, Finland.

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