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Iron-willed Dutch, Japanese overcome odds

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF IRONMAN | ERIC van der Linden crosses the finish line in 9:56:20 to bag the overall title in the Century Tuna IRONMAN Philippines in Subic.

SUBIC -—- Eric van der Linden the Netherlands and Chigusa Yamashita of Japan battled through choppy waters, strong winds and wet conditions and came out on top in a stern test of will and limits of human endurance that kicked off in the rain early Sunday and ran through near-midnight.

Van der Linden and Yamashita bagged the overall championships in the Century Tuna IRONMAN Philippines in practically the same fashion, taking command early in the swim and cranking up leads in the bike that cushioned the impact of their wavering finishes in the closing run stage.

The 49-year-old Van der Linden from Schagen, North Holland posted a clocking of nine hours and 56:20 minutes over the energy-sapping 3.8-kilometer swim, 180-km bike and 42-km run race as he held off South Africa’s Michael Kramer’s rally to secure the championship which he put into motion with a 1:01:19 effort in the opening leg in rough waters.

The 2000 Sydney Olympics veteran then flashed superb riding skills with a best 5:04:21 time in the next event then withstood the rigors of the grueling run part to win by four minutes despite a 3:44:03 finish under drizzling rain.

Kramer, who timed 1:01:36 in swim and 5:22:21 in bike, closed out in 3:31:00 but fell short of his fightback with a total clocking of 10:00:45 in one of the more exacting physical experiences that an athlete can choose to put themselves through with the last entry checking in at 11:53 p.m.

Hong Kong’s Richard Hall placed third in 10:14:18, Giuseppe Solla of Italy timed 10:15:32 for fourth while Jet Ramos emerged the top Filipino finisher at fifth with a 10:20:34 clocking.

Yamashita, on the other hand, built an eight-minute lead over compatriot Ayaka Suzuki with a 1:11:41 time in swim, and like Van der Linden, stamped her class in bike in 5:55:52 before slowing down in the run with a 4:11:17 clocking.

The 34-year-old campaigner finished with an 11:30:02 effort, 14 minutes ahead of Suzuki, who clocked 1:19:26 in swim and struggled in bike (6:19:22) before charging back with a division best 3:51:46 in run.

Victoria Hill of Great Britain came in third in 11:47:31 while Kuboth Rena, also of Japan, placed fourth in 11:55:04 and Alessandra Castaneda matched Ramos’ fifth place finish with a 12:17:46 clocking.

Like Subic Bay 70.3 winners John Alcala and Ines Santiago, Ramos and Castaneda pocketed $1,000 each for emerging as top Filipino finishers, courtesy of Century Pacific Food COO and EVP Greg Banzon, with the full distance winners also leading a pack of qualifiers to this year’s World Triathlon Championships.

Van der Linden (M45-49) and Yamashita (F30-34) likewise topped their respective age group categories, along with Kramer (M30-34), Ramos (M40-44), Hall (M50-54), Rena (F18-24), Suzuki (F35-39) and Hill (F45-49).

Fifty men’s slots were awarded to the IM world meet in Nice, France on 10 September and 25 seats for women in the Kailua-Kona, Hawaii meet on 14 October.

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