Liloan, Cebu – XTERRA Warrior award winner Ben Allen from Australia and two-time XTERRA World Champion Lesley Paterson from Scotland captured the third edition of the XTERRA Philippines Championship at the seafront of Barangay Jubay in Liloan (Cebu Province) on Saturday.
For Allen the victory marks a successful title defense and fourth straight win in the Western Pacific having swept last year’s Triple Crown of championship events in the Philippines, Saipan, and Guam.
“Very proud and honored to defend my title here in the Philippines, loved every minute of it,” said Allen.
He needed every minute of it, too, as South Africa’s Dan Hugo finished just 51 seconds back thanks to the fastest run split of the day.
“Thrilling event, in many ways,” posted Hugo to his twitter account Saturday. “Two flat tires, a crash and a meltdown. Ran into lead, but lost to a class effort by Benny Allen.”
It’s Hugo’s second straight second-place, having finished in same position at the XTERRA World Tour opener in South Africa last week.
2010 XTERRA Philippines Champion Sam Gardner from the UK posted the fastest bike split of the day to take third-place, with young-gun Bradley Weiss in fourth, and triathlon legend Olivier Marceau in fifth.
Marceau, a three-time Olympian who finished 2nd here in the Philippines last year, didn’t arrive into Cebu until late Friday night due to travel delays.
Top 5 Pro Men
Pl Name Swim Bike Run Time
1 Ben Allen, AUS 16:53 1:37:10 42:10:00 2:37:40
2 Dan Hugo, RSA 17:23 1:37:49 42:00:00 2:38:31
3 Sam Gardner, GBR 19:30 1:35:26 51:53:00 2:48:19
4 Bradley Weiss, RSA 18:39 1:41:58 46:24:00 2:48:46
5 Olivier Marceau, SUI 18:18 1:45:33 51:13:00 2:56:54
Also: Shahrom Abdullah (MAS), Rory Downie (GBR)
PATERSON SIMPLY REMARKABLE IN 2013 XTERRA DEBUT
In the women’s race it was all Lesley Paterson, the recently crowned 2013 Off-Road Athlete of the Year, who posted the fastest bike and run times by far and finished 15 minutes ahead of 2012 Philippines Champ Renata Bucher, and third overall behind only Allen and Hugo.
“Just finished THE most epic XTERRA race ever,” posted Paterson to her twitter account right after the race.
“My new On running shoes, SCOTT Sports bike, Enve Composites wheels, 2XU North America race suit, PowerBar gels took me to the win. XTERRA Philippines is seriously hard core, like nothing I've ever experienced. I almost ran over a chicken, a goat, a cow and plenty more.”
Bucher, who said she was happy with second, added that it was “one of the hardest races ever, the heat was brutal!”
Jacqui Slack, who posted the fastest swim split but dealt with a series of mechanicals on the bike, toughed-out to take fourth with fellow Brit Darelle “Daz” Parker placing 3rd here for the second straight year.
“What a race, what a place. Lovely crowd support, amazing heat and a super tough race. Award ceremony was amazing too,” said Parker, one of three female pros – along with Bucher and Carina Wasle – to have competed in all three Philippines races.
Wasle suffered bike mechanicals for the second straight year here in the Philippines, and while last year she was ultimately able to finish, this year she was not.
Next weekend the core of this elite group – minus only Paterson – will head to the Northern Marianas for next Saturday’s XTERRA Saipan Championship race.
Top Pro Women
Pl Name Swim Bike Run Time
1 Lesley Paterson, GBR 19:52 1:40:43 43:16:00 2:45:41
2 Renata Bucher, SUI 21:26 1:45:33 51:28:00 3:00:03
3 Darelle Parker, GBR 23:49 1:57:38 53:31:00 3:17:03
4 Jacqui Slack, GBR 19:37 2:37:58 55:01:00 3:55:21
XTERRA PHILIPPINES ALL-TIME PRO WINNERS
Year Men Women
2011 Sam Gardner Shonny Vanlandingham
2012 Ben Allen Renata Bucher
2013 Ben Allen Lesley Paterson
XTERRA managing director Dave Nicholas was in the Philippines and brings us this report.
Everybody has a story. The 3rd Vaseline for Men XTERRA Philippines was fantastic, Filipino chaos. I do not mean this in a negative manner – but unless you have experienced the Philippines you can’t possibly understand it all. Dave Desantis, an XTERRA regular from the Boston area, won his age group; his quote? “I wish I had my GoPro on because there is no way to describe it.” Womens winner and 3rd overall Lesley Paterson said “you had to be on your game the whole way. It was epic and sooo much fun”.
Because it can get hot in this part of the world, the Champ race starts at 7am. The host hotels are about 45 minutes away and that meant a very early 04:30 leave time. Almost a hundred competitors camped at the beach and by 5:15am transition was hopping, music playing, people were everywhere. The sunsrise over the swim beach was just as spectacular as the scenery up in the mountains.
I remember well the first race here with about 100 people. Fred Uytengsu, the President of Sunrise Events that operate XTERRA (and that other triathlon series whose name escapes me) had faith and those 100 competitors loved the race. Now, just two years later, Fred and his team registered 462 for the day.
We started with a beach start run into the shallow, low tide sea and the race was on. We’d had fun with quick swimmer and reigning champion Ben Allen about how young Scot Rory Downie might just be a bit faster in the swim. Ben was having none of it, and while Rory stayed close, Ben went into transition up front. Jacqui Slack was the first woman out, but Lesley Paterson was not far behind. Nobody was sure if the two time World Champ was ready to race this early in the year but Les stamped paid on any doubts immediately by taking the lead.
The race crosses one of the busiest main streets in the town of Liloan and despite the early start, traffic backed up immediately. And we had to cross it 4 times on the day. Bike out, Bike in, Run out, Run in, and while it was surely an imposition on the local folks I did not see one cross word, nobody jamming out in another lane trying to pass. People were patient, loved the event, loved the excitement and kind of figured they had a front row seat. You need to know about Filipino Jeepney’s. These are small buses – really more like pickups with benches on either side and a fiberglass top. They got their name from when local mechanics took Jeeps leftover after WWII, stretched the wheelbase and made them into buses. Jeepneys are everywhere.. they pick folks up and drop them off. Cost is about 25 cents. Each one has a route they run and the locals know which one to hop on because they are painted and decorated very uniquely. So bikes and runners mingle with Jeepneys, motorcycles, scooters, bikes, trucks, cars – and I mean hundreds of them. Yes it is chaos, but everyone somehow gets along. \
At the end of the first lap Ben had a nice1.5 minute lead on Dan Hugo and 3 minutes on Brit Sam Gardner who has come out of retirement. Next coming past on the dirt double track known as Coconut Alley was a small pickup truck going quickly to get out of the way. Fourth human was young Scot Rory Downie. Olivier Marceau came next with his front brake nearly frozen on the disc and sometimes actually pulling wheelies to keep it rolling.
Not hard to believe knowing her speed, but a surprise none-the-less, was Lesley riding hard just off the wheel of south African Bradley Weiss and 8th overall.
Now comes more chaos… the lap split bike marshal was totally confused most of the day and waved Ben onto the route back to transition, Ben went a few hundred yards and hit the main road before immediately turning back to make his second lap. Now Dan Hugo was first and Ben came up just behind Sam Gardner now in 3rd. It was unfortunate but a young girl ran out of nowhere in front of Sam and he hit her. No big damage, but Sam the gentleman, stopped immediately and went to her aid – thankfully she was fine. Ben maneuvered his way through the crowd that ran into the road to reclaim 2nd.
Renata Bucher was firm in second place for the women and having a good race, but was already 3.5 minutes back of Lesley. Jacqui Slack had multiple flats and was back over 40 minutes, Carina Wasle flatted and her wheel cracked so she walked back to the compound, done for the day.
Ohh it is not over by any means. Poor Rory was having his career race to date in 4th and smacked an errant chicken that ran into him. The chicken got caught in the bike and Rory took a header… Being a strong Scot he was back on the bike, feathers and all and on his way. Not long after, here comes our other Scot, Ms. Paterson, and she ran over the same chicken. We all remember that Dan Hugo hit a dog on a training run last season and had a terrible accident. “When I saw the dogs running everywhere, I had some total flashbacks, but focused and now, no problems”. Dan flatted while up front and had problems getting it fixed so Ben was back into the lead. Dan got back on and came into transition with Sam third. Hugo was running well and caught Ben not far into the run and the lead changed again.
But a word about the new Philippines run – it is steep up and down, it has no shade and it is hot. Dan kept the lead but began feeling woozy. Ben was in much better shape and could see Dan was not turning over as usual and made a hard run to go back in front. Dan soldiered on but hit the wall at the finish. “I was pretty dehydrated near the end but could still keep it going. The minute I hit the line and stopped, my temperature spiked and I was done”. No such problems for our Aussie in keeping his crown as King of the Philippines. Two time winner Ben Allen looked fine.
The bigger kicker is who appears in 3rd overall? A diminutive, wee Scot in a new black kit who is grinning from ear to ear. An unbelievable performance to beat a very fast Renata Bucher by 15 minutes, 3rd place Daz Parker by 30 minutes and all the other 219 finishers of the full distance and 121 in the Lite race. Perhaps one of the most stunning races by a woman in history.
Now let’s go back to poor Rory Downie. When he finished his second lap, the same marshal that sent Ben to transition sent Rory on a third lap. Young Downie has a brilliant future and he is a delightful polite young man. So he obeyed the marshal and went about 5K before he realized “Hey, this is the 3rd time I’ve been here” and turned back. A lesson well learned and I bet never repeated by Rory.
Traffic, dogs, chickens and scooters are all just part of racing here in the Philippines. A dozen kids who hiked a few miles to the top of the bike course to cheer riders on are also a part. The people along the course who cheer and support everyone must be seen to be believed. Riders go by crowds who want Hi-5’s and in one case held onto the hand of the rider and pulled him off !! That person was so flustered and sad he began crying over his mistake. On the run, kids will yell “good morning” and run a hundred yards or longer with you. Volunteers and marshals are everywhere along with lots of aid stations.
Like I said – everyone has a story. Something or in many cases, many things, happened to everyone. And everyone came across the line with a huge grin. To cap it off, a spectacular awards banquet at the convention center with costumed dancers, local music and performances all just make it that much more of an experience.
What the 4th Philippines race in 2014 will bring is anyone’s guess. But at the end of it all – everyone will have a story.
Next on the XTERRA World Tour: The XTERRA Philippines Championship race was the second world tour event to qualify amateur athletes into the XTERRA World Championship to be held in Kapalua, Maui (Hawaii) on October 27, 2013. Next up, the XTERRA Triple Crown in the Western Pacific continues with XTERRA Saipan next Saturday and XTERRA Guam on March 23. The first of two Maui qualifying events in New Zealand is also next weekend, with XTERRA Motatapu taking place on the South Island.
Date - Race, Location
Feb 24 - XTERRA South Africa Championship, Western Cape
Mar 2 - XTERRA Philippines Championship, Cebu
Mar 9 - XTERRA Motatapu, South Island, New Zealand
Mar 9 - XTERRA Saipan Championship, Northern Marianas
Mar 23 - XTERRA Guam Championship, Piti
Apr 7 - XTERRA Great Ocean Road, Anglesea, Victoria, Australia
Apr 13 - XTERRA New Zealand Championship, Rotorua
Apr 28 - XTERRA Malaysia Championhip, Putrajaya
June 2 - XTERRA Spain Championship, Cieza, Murcia
June 15 - XTERRA Greece, Lake Plastira
June 29 - XTERRA Switzerland Championship, Vallee de Joux
July 7 - XTERRA France Championship, Xonrupt, Gerardmer
July 20 - XTERRA Brazil Championship, Ilhabela, SP
July 20 - XTERRA Abruzzo, Lago di Scanno, Italy
Aug 3 - XTERRA Mexico Championship, Tapalpa, Jalisco
Aug 10 - XTERRA Czech Championship, Prachatice
Aug 17 - XTERRA Germany Championship, Zittau
Aug 24 - XTERRA Japan Championship, Marunuma
Sept 8 - XTERRA England, Cranleigh, Surrey
Sept 21 - XTERRA USA Championship, Ogden/Snowbasin, UT
Oct 27 - XTERRA World Championship, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii