SUBIC, Philippines — Aussie Mitch Robins and Guam’s Manami Iijima took different routes but produced the same results – winning the inaugural Black Arrow Express 5150 crowns in sweltering heat here yesterday.
Robins poured it all out in the last of the two-loop closing run part to get back at Sam Betten and record his second Philippine championship in the 1.5K swim, 40K-bike and 10K run race after a spirited duel in the swim and bike stages.
“In any day, a win is a good day. Sam (Betten) is such a tough competitor, he’s beaten me so many times. But today (yesterday), I simply managed the heat a little bit better and that just gave me an advantage in the end,” said Robins, who also won here in 2013 as a first-time Philippine visitor.
The 30-year-old Port Macquarie native, however, struggled in pursuit of a second crown, settling for second in the last two Subic 5150 races which Betten ruled to complete a rare three-peat in the Olympic distance triathlon race.
But he made sure to stop Betten this time, clocking 1:54:56 to beat Betten’s 1:55:58 effort in completing a three-title romp in wet conditions last year. He had leg clockings of 18:32 (swim), 57:10 (bike) and 36:08 (run).
Nipped by Betten by a mere second in the opening swim leg, Robins slugged it out with the former in the bike stage in scorching heat that saw them turn in identical clocking, setting up a thrilling finish in the deciding run part which Robins ruled in 36:08 behind a blistering run in the last four kilometers.
“It’s not what I hoped for but it’s a really tough race. I pushed really hard and was very happy but the result was not what I wanted in the end,” said Betten, who lost steam in their spirited battle in the stretch. He wound up with 1:56:03 with leg times of 18:31 (swim), 57:10 (bike) and 37:10 (run), ending his run of victories in the annual event that capped Sunrise Events, Inc.’s milestone 10th year.
“If you look at our growth the last 10 years, it’s spectacular, so I expect to continue to grow. We’ll have more races next year and we have so many people coming into the sport. The future is really bright for triathlon,” said SEI founder and president Wilfred Uytengsu, who also vied in the event along with Black Arrow Express president/CEO Allan Brizuela.
While Robins needed a strong finishing kick to snatch the men’s pro crown, Iijima practically clinched the women’s pro diadem right in the swim leg where she posted a remarkable 20:29-minute clocking.
That netted her a huge three-minute cushion over last year’s champion Dimity Lee Duke, enough to hold on to the finish despite slowing down in the bike (1:07:30) and run (42:10) stages. She took the gold in 2:13:56, slower than 24 seconds to Duke’s winning time of 2:13:32 last year.