by Kristel Satumbaga
LAPU-LAPU CITY — Crowd favorite Mauricio Mendez of Mexico and Radka Kahlefeldt of the Czech Republic bested the stellar field yesterday in the 2018 Regent Aguila Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championships at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa here.
The 22-year-old Mendez banked on a solid run to negotiate the 1.9-kilometer swim, 90-km bike, 21.2-km run race in 3 hours, 46 minutes and 45 seconds, outlasting Bermuda’s Tyler Butterfield (3:47:39) and Braden Currie of New Zealand (3:48:12) in the men’s pro field, while Kahlefeldt also pulled away from the run leg to capture the women’s pro crown in 4:12:13 ahead of Switzerland’s Caroline Steffen (4:21:46) and Australia’s Melissa Hauschildt (4:22:50).
United States’ Lauren Goss actually crossed the finish line eight minutes after Kahlefeldt but was later on disqualified after failing to serve her penalty at the tent.
“It’s my biggest win in my 70.3 career and I’m just happy. I just want to keep growing in the sport,” said Mendez, a multiple XTERRA champion and winner of the Ironman 70.3 race in Davao last March.
It was a tight battle for Mendez right from the start, coming in second after the swim leg and finishing with the seven-man lead pack in the bike leg. He overtook run leg leader Butterfield at the 16-km mark and kept his pace until the finish line.
“The bike was tough because it was tactical, but the run was the most challenging because we started with seven guys and it was fast,” Mendez said.
Meanwhile, it was another sweet victory for Kahlefeldt after being greeted at the finish line by her husband, Brad, and daughter, Ruby, who turns seven months old today.
“It’s amazing to finish, to win, and to see a happy baby and a happy husband. It’s the best feeling. I’m having a great season so far,” said Kahlefeldt, who also ruled the Ironman 70.3 Philippines in Davao this year.
Kahlefeldt, 33, was trailing from the start behind American Lauren Brandon and Steffen before taking charge at the start of the run leg. Steffen actually slowed down from a puncture on the bike, but was able to recover.
Meanwhile, Filipino Banjo Norte topped the Asian Elite level in 4:24:34 while finishing 18th in the male pro category.
The event is put up by title sponsor Aguila Energy Drink and Regent Food Corp. and organized and produced by Sunrise Events, Inc. in celebration of its decade-long staging of triathlon events in the country. Other backers are venue hosts Province of Cebu, City of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue City and Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort.