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Breaking barriers: Jennifer Uy's inspiring journey in endurance sports

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Breaking barriers: Jennifer Uy's inspiring journey in endurance sports
Jennifer Uy defies overwhelming odds, including an exacting 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run, a tough international field and an ankle injury, to finish third overall and emerge the best Filipina performer in the Century Tuna IRONMAN Philippines 2024 in Subic.

MANILA, Philippines – Amid cheers and applause, Jennifer Aimee Uy crossed the finish line, her heart racing not just from the marathon she had conquered in Subic, but from the sheer pride swelling within her. As the first Filipina and third overall female to complete the Century Tuna IRONMAN Philippines 2024, she found herself in uncharted territory.

"Honestly, I did not expect to cross the finish line as the first Filipina and third overall female," Uy admitted, her voice tinged with surprise and excitement. "I really don’t know the drill on how to hold and raise the final line tarp."

Despite her uncertainty about the ceremonial aspects of her feat, the overwhelming sense of pride in representing her country was unmistakable. "I am completely overwhelmed by the feeling of making our country proud," she said, her eyes glistening with emotion.

In the corporate world, Uy thrives as a senior supervisor in the Corporate Treasury Department of Energy Development Corp. However, it is in the grueling world of endurance sports where she truly shines.

At 36, Uy’s athletic journey began relatively late. It wasn’t until 2016 that she started training for triathlons. Prior to that, her passion for long-distance running had already established her as a formidable ultramarathoner.

Her debut ultramarathon, a 50K race from Tagaytay to Maragondon in 2016, saw her clinch the title of female champion. The victory was just the beginning of an impressive series of achievements.

Uy’s ultramarathon career includes remarkable feats, such as competing in races across Singapore and Malaysia. Her longest race to date, the 264km journey from Baguio to Luneta in 2019, earned her the title of female champion and second overall runner-up. Her most recent ultramarathon, the 102KMS Bataan Death March in 2023, had her bagging another female championship.

Her transition to triathlons, meanwhile, was fueled by her desire for new challenges. She completed her first full IRONMAN race in Western Australia in Dec. 2017 and has since competed in seven full distance events. Notably, she finished the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, in October 2023.

Despite her success, her journey has not been without hurdles. Prior to her third-place finish in the Century Tuna IRONMAN Philippines, she suffered a left ankle injury from playing pickleball, hampering her run training but making her podium finish even more impressive. She completed the race with a mix of perseverance and resilience, showcasing her unwavering spirit.

Uy’s training regimen is intense, involving solo bike and run sessions, and swimming with her NewBaundTri teammates. She balances her rigorous training with her job and personal life, often starting her day with exercises and dog walks. To break the monotony, she engages in sports like pickleball and trail running.

“Triathlon is a challenging sport, especially since it involves three different sports,” said Uy. “But it helps you become more versatile. The downside of it is that it eats a lot of training time. It is also an expensive sport.”

Looking ahead, Uy plans to return to ultramarathon racing in the latter half of 2024, with races like the 215km Laguna Loop and the 250km Manila to Baguio. Her ultimate goal is to conquer Ultraman Canada in July 2025, a race that doubles the distance of an Ironman over three days.

She aspires to be the first Filipino to finish Ultraman Canada and eventually compete in the Ultraman World Championship in Hawaii in Dec. 2025.

Drawing inspiration from top English triathlete Lucy Charles-Barclay, Uy aims to inspire other women to excel in endurance sports. She believes in the power of confidence and self-belief, advocating for women’s empowerment in sports traditionally dominated by men.

Uy’s journey is a testament to what dedication and resilience can achieve. Her story is not just about breaking personal records, but also about breaking barriers and inspiring a new generation of female athletes.

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