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Aussies sweep 5150 triathlon

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SUBIC BAY FREEPORT—The racers from Down Under emerged on top again.

The Australians completed a sweep for the second straight year with Luke McKenzie shattering the two-hour barrier to capture the men’s pro crown and Belinda Granger retaining her women’s pro title in the Century Tuna 5150 Triathlon Philippines here yesterday.

Bucking a tough start in the swim leg, McKenzie conquered the punishing 1.5K swim-40K bike-10K run event in one hour, 59 minutes and 25 seconds to emerge as the overall winner and the lone triathlete to go under two hours.

But it was virtually a breeze for Granger as the 42-year-old veteran finished seven minutes ahead of her closest pursuer with a time of 2:17.33.

“Compared to last year’s race, nothing was difficult,” said Granger. “This was probably the easiest condition I’ve ever had in the Philippines since I started racing here.”

John Leerams Chicano again emerged as the best Filipino finisher, clocking 2:09.45 to replicate his fifth overall ranking last year. Monica Torres topped the women’s side for  the host country in 2:28.19.

McKenzie, who competed here for the first time, lagged behind runners-up Ben Allen (2:02.40) and Michael Murphy (2:05.46) in the swim leg, but made up for it in the bike event where he came out almost a minute ahead.

“The most difficult for me was the swim, I just didn’t feel comfortable at all,” said the 31-year-old McKenzie. “I started well but it felt really long. I was just happy to get out. The bike course was really challenging, it’s very technical. We were lucky it didn’t rain.”

Again stealing the show were differently-abled athletes Arnel Aba, Godfrey Taberna and Sixto Ducay, whose team captured the men’s relay championship over 12 other able-bodied groups.

Aba (a one-legged swimmer), Taberna (a cyclist born with a right club foot) and Ducay (a runner with a polio-stricken arm) combined anew for  the Wetshop Para Tri Team that finished seven minutes ahead of the runner-up squad with a time of 2:23.47.

“We just really want to inspire more disabled athletes,” said Aba, whose team settled for second place in the same event last year.

Jonard Saim wound up second in the men’s Filipino elite at 2:10.29 while Philippine record holder Nikko Huelgas, who was battling the flu a day before the race, still landed on the podium with a time of 2:11.00.

“We almost came out at the same time in the swim, so I tried to break away in the bike,” Chicano said after copping the Filipino men’s elite anew by besting his time last year by two minutes.

Other men’s age-group winners were Robinson Esteves in the 20-24 bracket (2:16.50), Australian Grant Preddy in 25-29 (2:23.37), Joseph Miller in 30-34 (2:26.21), George Vilog in 35-39 (2:17.21), Jojo Macalintal in 40-44 (2:32.59), Nestor Glenn Gonzales in 45-49 (2:29.47) and Frank Lacson in 50-54 (2:36.21).


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