Tragedy, tri­umph at Co­bra Iron­man 70.3

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Cebu’s host­ing of one of the big­gest events in the coun­try, the Co­bra Iron­man 70.3 last Aug. 5, 2012 in Lapu- Lapu City, was a huge success, but it also had a layer of tragedy. Earn­ing mostly great re­views from the pros be­cause of the crowd and the tough route, the triathlon, which at­tracted 1,600 lo­cal and for­eign par­tic­i­pants, saw Aus­tralian Pete Ja­cobs out­last­ing Cameron Brown for his third crown in 4: 07: 38. That was 16 min­utes slower than his time of 3: 51: 43 when he won the event dur­ing its last stag­ing in Ca­marines Sur but, as it turns out, fan­tas­tic prepa­ra­tion for his first world cham­pi­onship a less than 12 weeks later. “The sup­port­ers were amaz­ing. I con­sider this as the tough­est 70.3 race I’ve done,” said Ja­cobs, who pulled away from Brown five kilo­me­ters be­fore the fin­ish line. Brown fin­ished sec­ond in 4: 09: 01, while Mathie O’Hal­lo­ran, a Cana­dian now com­pet­ing for the

Philip­pines, placed third in 4: 19: 32. In the women’s di­vi­sion, it was a run­away fin­ish. Caro­line St­ef­fen won the ti­tle in 4: 20: 48, al­most seven min­utes ahead of Bree Wee ( 4: 27: 24), while 2011 cham­pion Belinda Granger earned third place in 4: 32: 09. Granger had noth­ing but praise for the or­ga­niz­ers, who made sure some 25,000 peo­ple were lined up along the roads dur­ing the bike seg­ment of the race. In an in­ter­view with Iron­man. com, she said, “I have never ex­pe­ri­enced that amount of sup­port out there on the bike be­fore. I think ev­ery sin­gle per­son that lives on the is­land and sur­rounds the is­land was out there cheer­ing. You guys should be ex­tremely proud of your­selves. Never have I ex­pe­ri­enced that in all my years of rac­ing.”

Un­for­tu­nately, it was also in the bike seg­ment that the tragedy oc­curred, when re­lay par­tic­i­pant Ra­mon Igana Jr. col­lapsed and died. An au­topsy re­vealed that Ra­mon, who signed up with wife Dr. Hu­mil­ity ( 21K run) and Ben­jamin Balaoro Jr. ( 2K swim), died of an acute pul­monary em­bolism. The air­line ex­ec­u­tive was only 45, and his death shocked the run­ning com­mu­nity, where the cou­ple was ac­tive. Rico Dale Pe­tal­lar, a triath­lete and, like the Iganas, a mem­ber of the Ungo Run­ners, re­called how Ra­mon pre­pared for the Iron­man ex­ten­sively-- train­ing de­spite his work sched­ule, some­times by him­self. “In prepa­ra­tion for the Iron­man, he even bought high- end bi­cy­cle parts to re­place his old ones,” he said.

PETE THREE- PEATS. Pete Ja­cobs leads in the bike race, en route to his first- place fin­ish dur­ing the Iron­man 70.3 Philip­pines, which he has topped twice be­fore. A few weeks af­ter his vic­tory in Cebu, the Aus­tralian

won his first Iron­man world cham­pi­onship ti­tle in Hawaii. ( DEFENSOR)

( SUN. STAR FOTO/ AL­LAN DEFENSOR)

TEAM PI­OLO. The ac­tor Pi­olo Pas­cual causes road­side crowds to scream as

he ped­als by in the 90- kilo­me­ter bike leg of the Iron­man 70.3 Philip­pines.

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