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Stakes go higher in Cobra Ironman

With a growing roster of elite triathletes and an increased number of berths in the World Championship, expect the unexpected when the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championships powered by Ford is fired off Sunday at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa in Cebu.

Five more pros have joined the centerpiece 1.9K swim, 90K bike, 21K run event with Aussie Jake Montgomery, Dutch Jens Petersen Bach and James Hadley of Great Britain beefing up the already formidable men’s field headed by defending champion Tim Reed.

Amanda Wilson of Australia and Filipina Kim Kilgroe meanwhile, will slug it out with the best in the women’s side, which features titleholder Caroline Steffen, of the event backed by Cobra Energy Drink as title sponsor with Ford as presenting sponsor and Globe Telecom as official wireless and broadband services partner and produced and organized by Sunrise Events, Inc.

“With this elite field, Tim Reed and Caroline Steffen will have their hands full in defending their respective titles,” said SEI founder Wilfred Uytengsu Jr., who also guaranteed a successful staging of the lung-busting race, the first continental triathlon event to be held in the country.

What makes the upcoming $75,000 event doubly interesting is it will offer 20 more slots to next year’s Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee, raising the WC berths to be disputed to 50.

“This alone is enough to motivate these ace triathletes to strive for more and get that rare chance to compete in the World Championship,” said Uytengsu.

Close to 3,000 participants from 43 countries, including 35 elite pros, are vying in the event, which will also feature 2,869 equally determined competitors in the Filipino elite, CEOs, age groups and relay divisions.

Also on tap is the Alaska IronKids, which blasts off Saturday.

The blue-ribbon event, which can be viewed live via streaming on www.ironman.com, courtesy of Globe, has generated so much interest since it was announced that Cebu will be the home of the 2016 AsPac Ironman.

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