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Asia-Pac Ironman on

LAPU-LAPU CITY – Tim Reed and Caroline Steffen hope to capitalize on competing in familiar grounds as they defend their titles today in the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship presented by Ford at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort & Spa here.

The two seasoned triathletes will look to use their victories in last year’s Ironman 70.3 Philippines to their advantage as they’ll be up against a record field of about 3,000 participants in the first Asia-Pacific tilt held outside of Australia and New Zealand.

Australia’s Reed will be tested against Van Burkel, compatriots Dimity Lee Duke, Craig Alexander, and Sam Betten, and 2014 Ironman Philippines champion Brett McMahon of Canada in the 1.9-kilometer swim, 90-kilometer bike, and 21.1-kilometer run journey.

“I’ve trained really hard for this race, and I feel that I’m ready,” said Reed, who clocked three hours, 46 minutes, and three seconds in capturing last year’s Ironman Philippines crown. “Probably my biggest enemy would be the heat and humidity, so you have to worry about yourself and not thinking too much of everyone else.”

Steffen is aiming for a fifth title in the Philippines after winning three straight Ironman Philippines races from 2013 to 2015 and a Subic Bay competition held earlier this year.

She completed an Ironman Philippines three-peat last year in 4:23:54, winning by six minutes despite suffering a crash in the bike part of the race.

The Swiss-born, Australia-based triathlete will be up against the likes of first-time Philippine visitor Radka Vodicka of Czech Republic, and Aussies Amelia Watkinson, Sarah Crowley, and Amanda Wilson.

“I was here for the last four years, No. 5 is my lucky number and I’ve come here to get my fifth title (in the Philippines),” Steffen said. “I’m feeling pretty good, training well, and no injuries. I’ve been focusing on competing in 70.3 races, I’m better prepared than in previous years, and I can’t wait to give it a shot.”

Kim Kilgroe will be the lone Philippine contingent in the pro category, making her debut in the Asia-Pacific competition, while August Benedicto and Monica Torres are among the competitors in the Filipino Elite male and female category.

Adding spice to the event are the participation of actors Piolo Pascual, Matteo Guidicelli, and Dingdong Dantes, among others, in various categories. (Jonas Terrado)