MITCH Robins and Manami Iijima of Guam gear up for a tougher, more challenging outing in pursuit of a second straight championship in the Black Arrow Express 5150 Triathlon on Oct. 27 in Subic Bay.
Robins put on a strong finish to outlast fellow Aussie Sam Betten and end the latter’s domination of the 5150 races here, snatching the men’s pro crown in searing heat last year.
The duo slugged it out on practically even terms in the swim and bike legs but Robins poured it all out in the last of the two-loop closing run event to get back at Betten and secure his second Philippine championship after winning in 2013 as a first-time Philippine visitor.
The 31-year-old Port Macquarie native expects a strong challenge from the rest of the bidders, who will go into the Olympic distance race all primed up for the 1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run event sponsored by Black Arrow Express and organized by Sunrise Events, Inc., now part of the IRONMAN Group.
Iijima hopes to show her swim skills the way she did in dominating the women’s side last year where she built a big three-minute cushion over former Subic 5150 champion Dimity Lee Duke, also from Down Under, in the opening leg before coasting to her biggest victory thus far in the country.
Like Robins, Iijima is bracing for a big fightback from Duke and a host of others vowing to go all-out for a shot at the top $10,000 purse in the event designed for the pros bracing for bigger battles as well as for triathletes who love to do short-distance but challenging races on a world-class race course long considered as the country’s triathlon capital.
Also on tap in the event, aimed at encouraging more people to adopt a healthy lifestyle and embrace multi-sport training and racing, are the Asian Elite division for men and women offering a top purse of P200,000 .
Sharing center stage is the Go for Gold Sunrise Sprint, a short distance triathlon series featuring a 750m open-water swim, 20km bike ride and a 5km run put up by Go for Gold to help Filipino athletes promote excellence.