Minus sponsors, Benedicto makes sure to be remembered as a winner
CEBU—Saying that his future in the sport is uncertain at this point, August Benedicto swam hard, pedaled like his life depended on it and ran himself ragged on Sunday so that if the Megaworld Ironman 70.3 Philippines turns out to be his last event, he’d go out a winner.
Lagging by a huge margin coming out of the 1.9-kilometer swim, Benedicto gobbled up the field in the final ascent at Cebu–Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) bridge heading back to Mactan as the iconic P33 billion mega structure indeed played a critical part, with the Germany-based former ice delivery boy leading an unprecedented Philippine sweep of the elite division.
“I don’t know what’s next,” Benedicto, slumped to the ground while enjoying a generous serving of lechon, puso (hanging rice) and some vegetables to recharge minutes after the race, told the Inquirer in Filipino after clocking four hours, 29 minutes and 16 seconds under overcast skies.
The lack of sponsors, he said, would likely cut his career short.
Mark Jansen of Australia checked in second in 4:36:05, with John Alcala rallying to salvage third spot with a time of 4:37:54. Satar Salem, the Bohol 5150 winner last month, was fourth in 4:38:39. Czech Petr Lukosz, the prerace favorite, arrived in seventh in 4:43:39.
“I gave it my all today, just to make sure that the people remember me as a winner—if this is indeed my last race,” Benedicto, who is a mediocre swimmer compared to the others in the field, said after his fifth championship. “I love competing here [in Cebu] because the fans are awesome.”
Ines Santiago later on completed a dominant day for Filipinos by winning the women’s division handily in 5:23:14 despite racing with menstrual pains. She said she started bleeding during the run stage.
“I really enjoyed that I was able to push myself,” said the 40-year-old Santiago, a businesswoman from Pulupandan, Negros Occidental, and a part-time teacher at University of Asia and the Pacific.
Leyann Ramo timed 5:32:00 to finish second, with Cianyl Gonzales taking third spot in 5:36.09.
Taking his kids to school daily on a sidecar attached to his mountain bike for six kilometers of uphill trek in Germany made it easy for him to conquer the long ascents of the CCLEX bridge, Benedicto said.
“I guess all of my efforts for my kids paid off today,” Benedicto, who turned 38 last Aug. 2, said with a wide smile. “Even before I took up the sport, I always loved the climb races. You can say that it is my specialty.”
Benedicto came here last July 27 using a ticket paid for by his German wife as a birthday gift. He only had his running shoes with him as his bike was provided for here by his former sponsor and his hotel accommodation coming from his friends.
“As you can see, I don’t have any sponsors,” he said while showing the immaculate front and back of his tri-suit.
He wouldn’t mind adding some weight to them in the future with brand names of sponsors, for it would mean that he can continue his triathlon career. INQ
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