DARAGA, Albay – Bermuda’s world champion Flora Duffy and South Africa’s Bradley Weiss put up explosive performances to rule the centerpiece female and male pro division of the XTERRA Albay Off-Road Triathlon here over the weekend.
Duffy lived up to her top billing and blitzed past the opposition in the 1.5K-swim, 35K bike and 10K run on areas around Mayon Volcano to handily win the tiara in 2:43:40 in her very first triathlon event in the country.
Her closest rival, British Jacqui Slack, crossed the finish line some 12 minutes later at 2:56:51 while Australian Dimity Lee-Duke checked in third at 3:03:18.
Swiss Renata Bucher, who dominated the event in Liloan, Cebu last year, struggled to finish fifth at 3:12:53 behind Guam’s Mieko Carey, who timed 3:06:39, her bid dampened by a bad right knee that she hurt three weeks earlier.
“I’m very pleased with my performance; I had a good swim, bike and run today (yesterday),” said Duffy, who led from the start of the race in the beach of Lidon, Sto. Domingo all the way to the finish at iconic Cagsawa Ruins here.
Sharing the limelight with the multi-titled Duffy was Weiss, who scored a breakthrough victory in the season-opening XTERRA event organized by Sunrise Events, Inc.
Weiss negotiated the challenging conditions and terrains of Albay in 2:28:00, beating fast-rising 19-year-old Mexican Mauricio Mendez for top honors by just 58 seconds.
Two-time XTERRA Philippines winner Ben Allen of Australia (2:33:51) settled for bronze in the event organized by Sunrise Events, Inc. and held as part of Tourism Board’s “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” and “Visit the Philippines 2015” program.
“It’s the first championship for me ever and it will boost my confidence a lot,” said Weiss, who hit paydirt in his third XTERRA race in Phl. “Definitely moving forward, I can build from here and I’m really excited to the rest of the year.”
Jan Leerams Chicano and Anna Marissa Remigio topped the races among the Filipino Elite competitors. Chicano won the men’s plum in 2:51:17, beating Billy Biag (2:54:04) and Emmanuel Comendador (2:56:25) while Remigio (3:47:45) nipped Noemi Andrea Galeos (4:01:48) and Angelica Yvonne Limjoco (4:25:17) for the ladies diadem.
The Top 3 triathletes received special medals and trophies made from Mayon’s rocks during the awarding rites from XTERRA Worldwide managing director Dave Nicholas, SEI president Wilfred Steven Uytengsu and Albay Gov. Joey Salceda.
It was the perfect way to start the season for Devonshire pride Duffy, who had won seven XTERRA races last year, including the world championship, and intended to duplicate the feat this year.
“I didn’t expect it but I wanted it. I wanted to come here and win it but you never know in XTERRA; so many things can go wrong out there so I’m just pleased and relieved to cross the line and win,” said Duffy.
Deposed champ Bucher struggled all day, particularly in the run, and was just happy to finish the race at No. 5 “It was good test for me if could run again given the injury I had recently; I made it and finished fifth, definitely different from last year but I’m still happy,” she said.
Weiss was only fourth after the swim but more than made up for lost time by overtaking early frontrunners Allen and Mendez in the ride passing through fire roads, grasslands and sandy and rocky trails.
“I knew the winner will end up first in the bike so I had to commit to riding as hard and as aggressive as I can,” he said.
The event was backed by official courier and logistics partner 2Go and supported by Columbia, Department of Tourism, Prudential, Finisher Pix, Garmin, Intercare, Davids, Shotz, Akari and Devant and hydration partner Coca Cola Femsa.