World champion Flory Duffy and rising star Mauricio Mendez set out for their first XTERRA Off-Road Triathlon race in the country, both upbeat of their chances in the much awaited swim-bike-run event unfolding tomorrow in Legazpi City, Albay.
“I am really excited to open my 2015 season at XTERRA Albay. I have heard such great things about the race from fellow pros on the circuit and I came to see for myself,” said Duffy, who dominated the XTERRA World Championship in Maui last year.
Duffy stepped up her buildup for the event in Stellenbosch, South Africa where the trails, according to her, are amazing but can’t wait to take on the Albay route that offers a different kind of challenge for the competing field.
“Winning in Maui last year really boosted my confidence. But as far as the race course goes, well, I hear we are riding up a volcano so that is something to look forward to,” said Duffy, who will be out to foil Renata Bucher’s back-to-back title romp in the fifth staging of the event organized by Sunrise Events, Inc.
Mauricio, meanwhile, will be up against the likes of veterans Ben Allen and Bradley Weiss but the 19-year-old protégé, who placed fifth in last year’s world tilt, has vowed to go all-out for the victory.
“I can say it will be a lot of fun, a fight from the first to the last second of the race for the podium. I have learned a lot from these guys and all I can say is that we are all here for one reason – give everything we have,” said Mauricio.
He added that he had been doing some changes to be in the “race mode,” putting more hours in training while downplaying the age-factor in his title bid.
“What I see in my age, talking about advantage, is that I have a little bit more time for learning than most of the other athletes, having these experiences at this age is something invaluable from my point of view and here is where I want to have all my focus, so I can grow as an athlete and as a person,” said Mauricio.
The event, held as part of CAGSAWA Festival and of the Tourism Board of the Philippines’ “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” and “Visit the Philippines 2015” program, officially started yesterday (Friday) with an expo at Albay Astrodome where sponsors and exhibitors handed out promos and special treats to expo visitors.
Jacqui Slack, Mieko Carey, Charlie Epperson, Daz Parker, Fabrizio Bartoli and Simone Calamai are also among the close to 300 triathletes seeing action in the event 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.
The 1.5K swim will be start on the shores of Lidong in Mayon Rivera while the 35K bike stage will be a single loop point to point race passing through fire roads, grass lands, and sand and rocky trails. The finishing 10K run will follow Mayon’s ATV trail featuring sandy and rocky areas, river bed and grass lands.
The finish line inside the Cagsawa Ruins Heritage Park also offers a magnificent view of the perfect-coned volcano as well as the ruins of a town that for over two centuries has become the symbol of man’s resilience to nature’s forces.
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