McMahon, Steffen IronMan king, queen
Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - August 4, 2014 - 12:00am

LAPU LAPU , Philippines   – Canadian Brent McMahon rebounded strong in the bike and run stages and ruled the men’s pro elite division while Swiss Caroline Steffen took the ladies crown to complete a three-peat in the Cobra IronMan 70.3 Philippines at the posh Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa here yesterday.

McMahon, 33, struggled in the kickoff swim phase but flashed top form in the next two events to dominate a host of others in three hours, 59 minutes, 05 seconds to the delight of the festive crowd in a victory that more than made up for his fifth place finish last year.

“I wasn’t well prepared and had less motivation last year,” said McMahon, who added this win to his pair of victories in Ironman 70.3 races in Boise and Hawaii early this year.

Aussie-Dutch Sam Betten finished second to McMahon in 4:07:30 while New Zealand’s Cameron Brown ended up fourth but took third place honors after Australia’s Casey Munro was disqualified for rules infraction.

McMahon could’ve actually turned in a faster clocking but opted to walk the final 50 meters of the run stage to acknowledge cheers from the crowd, some of whom he shook hands with and hugged while jumping to the tune of the rap song titled “Jump Around” by 90s hip-hop band House of Pain.

“The Aussies came out of the swim really strong but I just stuck with them and rode hard in the beginning of the bike and was solid in the run stage where I really felt strong,” said McMahon, also a two-time Olympic triathlete.

Equally impressive was Steffen, who turned in a 4:32.34 clocking to cop the women’s pro elite title for the third straight year and keep her win run going this year after ruling the recent Century Tuna 5150 in Subic and Ironman Asia-Pacific in Melbourne, Australia.

“It’s nice to win it the third time, it was a fun race,” said Steffen, who actually finished sixth overall behind the top five men’s elite pro.

Aussies Rebecca Hoscke and Belinda Granger checked in second and third in 4:38.34 and 4:48.32, respectively.

McMahon also took advantage of the absence of Australians Courtney Atkinson and Pete Jacobs, who finished 1-2 last year here, but begged off to prepare for the World Championship in Quebec, Canada later this year.

But Jacobs, a three-time winner of this annual event, said it wouldn’t have made a difference at all.

“Brent’s conditioning was superb,” said Jacobs, who joined the relay races in a team where he vied in the swim event, buddy and world-renowned coach Lance Watson in the bike section and wife Jaimie in the run stage.

August Benedicto crowned himself the men’s Filipino elite champion with a 4:34:55 clocking, besting last year’s winner Banjo Norte of Alaska Tri-Aspire Team in 4:40:44. Cebu native Philip Duenas placed third in 4:41:59.

Norte was later disqualified for non-compliance of rules.

“It’s a nice birthday gift for myself,” said Benedicto, backed by Unilab, PMi, Brooks, TYR, Polar and CEP, who turned 30 Saturday.

But Benedicto trained hard for this one, even tapping a German swim coach Yorgan Sach.

“Last year, I lost by three minutes to Banjo (Norte) after he left me behind for 10 minutes after the swim event,” said Benedicto. “After I trained with coach Yorgan, I improved my time and I was just five minutes behind Banjo after the swim that helped me a lot to win this.”

Petite Joyette Jopson, Alaska Tri-Aspire Team coach Mathieu O’Halloran’s girlfriend, took the women’s pro elite crown on her first try in the division, clocking 5:28:31, beating Maria Hodges (5:29:26) and Jenny Rose Guerrero (5:40:40).

Actor Piolo Pascual also led a host of celebrities who finished the race, including Matteo Guidicelli, Ryan Agoncillo, Kim Atienza, Sen. Pia Cayetano, Jennelyn Mercado, Gretchen Fulido, Maricel Laxa, Anthony Pangilinan, Rep. Gilbert Remulla and Formula One star Jenson Button of Great Britain.

The differently-abled athletes were also represented as one-armed Isidro Vildisola, one-legged Arnel Aba and Arthus Bucay completed their race. Vildisola, Aba and Godfrey Tabuena wound up third two years ago.

The event was sponsored by Alaska Milk Corp., Aqua Sphere, Asia Miles, Cathay Pacific, Century Tuna, David’s Salon, Devant, Gatorade, Globe Telecom, GU Energy Gel, Intercare, Kenneth Cobonpue, Asics, 2Go, Oakley, Pinkberry, Prudential Guarantee, Safeguard, Suarez and Sons, Inc., Timex, Finisher Pix and Shangri-La’s Mactan Resorts and Spa.

The Philippine STAR, MultiSport Magazine and ABS-CBN Sports Action were the media partners with BE Resorts, Crimson Resort and Spa, Movenpick Resort and Spa and Waterfront Airport Hotel and Casino as hotel partners.

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