by Waylon Galvez
SUBIC – Expect a close fight among the elite athletes that include former six-time champion Tim Reed of Australia and Seychelles’ Nick Baldwin in the Century Tuna Ironman 70.3 Subic Bay today here.
Reed finished third overall in this same event two years ago won by Reudi Wild of Switzerland, a year after he won the Cobra Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championship in Cebu.
Reed said he is excited for this event presented by Big Boss Cement.
“I hope to perform well this year, I’m just excited,” said Reed, who won the 70.3 Ironman World Championship in 2016. “There are great athletes this year and it’s going to be exciting competing with them again.”
The 34-year-old Reed has won an Ironman 70.3 title this year when he ruled the Port Mac Championship in Australia, and came in third in the Ironman 70.3 Da Nang in Vietnam.
Wild – the 2016 champion – is not competing this year, but it doesn’t mean the competition will be easy for Reed as Baldwin, as well as fellow Aussie Sam Betten are expected to go all-out for the $3,000 top purse.
Baldwin won here a year back when he captured the inaugural Century Tuna Ironman – a full swim-bike-run event of 140.6 kilometers. It was his second title since turning pro two years ago.
As for the towering 6-foot-4 Betten, the triathlete is a regular participant on local competition but has yet to win a 70.3 Ironman event. He is coming off, however, a 51.50 victory in Naga City recently.
Other elite triathletes seeing action in the event are Australia’s Conor McKay, a former three-time champion, Tim Van Berkel, who won in Vietnam two years ago, Alex Polizzi and Colombia’s Rodrigo Acevedo, both hoping to win their first Ironman title.
In the women’s side, Swiss Caroline Steffen, who won here in 2016, is heavily favored to win the title despite the presence of other veteran triathletes, which include Australia’s Dimity Lee Duke and Lisa Tyack, Guam’s Manami Iijima, and Laura Wood of New Zealand.
A total of 870 participants – including the 12 ‘elite’ triathletes – from 41 countries,will see action in the 1.9km-swim, 90km-bike and 21km-run organized by Sunrise Events, Inc.