Mitch Robins and Manami Iijima hope to cash in on their strengths in chase for back-to-back diadems but a pair of multi-titled rivals go all out for redemption, guaranteeing a spirited battle for top honors in the Black Arrow Express 5150 firing off today (Sunday, Oct. 27) in Subic Bay.
Robins came out of a furious duel with fellow Australia Sam Betten in the swim and bike events with a strong finishing kick in the last of the two-loop run leg to rule the inaugural staging of the event last year while ending the latter’s reign in 5150 races held over the world class course at the country’s triathlon hub.
But Betten is coming into the race, set over the Olympic distance of 1.5k swim-40K bike-10K run, in top form following a rigid buildup to the event sponsored by one of the country’s top cargo movers and organized by Sunrise Events, Inc., now part of the IRONMAN Group.
“I think my chances are good as I’m feeling fit and have done some great training over the last six weeks,” said Betten, who had dominated the Subic 5150 races for three years before Robins foiled that streak.
While aware of Robins’ own buildup for a title repeat along with that of Czech Jakub Langhammer, who is seeking a follow-up to his recent victory in Davao, Betten vowed to get back at his tormentor and foil the rest of the bidders in the centerpiece men’s pro division.
“I’m probably the fittest that I have been all year for this event. So I’m really excited to be racing tomorrow (today),” added Betten, who fought Robins practically on even terms in the swim and bike stages but failed to match his rival’s fiery windup in the closing run event.
“Having finished second last year, I’m very hungry to get back to No. 1 this year,” said Betten. “I hope to make up for this with what will hopefully be a great performance in Subic.”
Meanwhile, Iijima, who flaunted superb swim skills to beat fancied Dimity Lee Duke and share top honors with Robins last year, is a bit anxious about her own title-retention drive after missing a couple of top-level events due to injury.
“I’m not sure how I will perform because I was out due to injury,” said Iijima, who practically secured the women’s pro crown last year right in the swim leg where she posted a remarkable 20:29 clocking for a huge three-minute cushion over Duke. “But I know I want to give it my best.”
That should bolster Duke’s chances to get back on the winner’s podium but the Phuket, Thailand-based Aussie, 36, has opted to downplay her chances although she hinted at making the most of the opportunity.
“In the end, we only regret that chances we didn’t take. So being on the start line is a plus. But to finish first, first you must finish,” said Duke.
Also on tap are the Asian Elite and the Go for Gold Sunrise Sprint, a short distance triathlon series featuring a 750m open-water swim, 20km bike ride and a 5km run put up by Go for Gold to help Filipino athletes promote excellence.
Backers of the second BAE 5150 are Black Arrow Express as title sponsor, venue hosts Subic Bay, ACEA Subic Bay, TYR (official swim brand), GU (official energy gel), David’s Salon and F2P Sportswear as major sponsors, and media partners ONE Sports on Cignal, Manila Bulletin, Crosstrain.ph, MBody.ph, Tempo, Trilife, AsiaTri.com and FInisherPix with Alaska, AlcoPlus, Australia Harvest, Cetaphil, DeVant, Sanicare, Regent, Storck and Timex as marketing partners.
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