DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Davao City’s hosting of one of the world’s grueling multi-sports event on Sunday should prove once again that the Philippine South is not all guns and terror.

On the 10th year anniversary of the event organizer, Sunrise Events in the Philippines, its Inaugural Alveo Ironman 70.3 Davao demonstrates anew the powerhouse pack of this year’s edition, as it has been for several years, with five world champions, a score of professional athletes glittered with the participation of Filipino actors.

According to Wilfred Steven Uytengsu Jr., founder of Sunrise Events, the enthusiasm of this year’s Ironman was spectacular “despite recent chaos brought about by the war in Marawi .”

And to celebrate such participation of world-class athletes, the Ironman 70.3 team collaborated with Datu Bago Awardee Rey Mudjahid ‘Kublai’ Millan, to design special medals and trophies that reflect the diversity of cultures here in Davao.

These medals, named after an excerpt from the Philippine National Anthem – Duyan ng Magiting (Cradle of the Brave), as confirmed by Kublai, were each handcrafted with the help of the brass casters from the T’boli community of South Cotabato.

With a total of 1,800 athletes representing 39 countries and 23 professional athletes with five world champions, the 70.3 kilometer-race on Sunday would test the tenacity of a world-class triathlon event that would also expect to place Davao in the international sports tourism map.

“We can’t truly say that Ironman is in the Philippines if we’re not in Luzon, Visayas and now, here, in Mindanao. So now, Ironman is truly in the Philippines,” Uytengsu said in his opening remarks in a press conference on Friday.

City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio disclosed how she has been yearning for Davao to host the Ironman since her first term in 2012. She also expressed her heartfelt thanks to the partner cities and municipality around Davao del Norte for being co-hosts for the 90-kilometer bike course of the race.

“This is actually a very good vehicle for us to convey the message of unity in Mindanao,” Aportadera emphasized in his speech while he thanked the Ironman team for choosing Davao as its home here in Mindanao.

Last week the PhilAm Vitality Pikeout already commenced while yesterday the Alaska Milk Runout and Irongirls Herbalife Nutrition took place at the Azuela Cove which was participated by hundreds of families. On Saturday, the Alaska Ironkids took off with around about 300 entries.

In the press conference were Department of Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, Alveo Land’s Head for Project Development and Sales and Marketing Gutz Gutierrez, Ayala Land Chief Operating Officer Jun Bisnar, Panabo City Mayor James Gamao, Municipality of Carmen Mayor Virginia Perandos, Tagum City Mayor Allan Rellon, City Sports Development Division Head Mikey Aportadera, the renowned Kublai Millan and various representatives from Petron and other sponsors. After the press conference, renowned triathlon coach Lance Watson gave some advice to the athletes for the big race this Sunday.

What’s new?

Uytengsu said the Ironman 70.3 would be different from its previous races. “Aside from the fact that its Davao’s first ever Ironman race, some innovations were made for this year’s race which includes a rolling start for the swim course. Athletes in this year’s Ironman would now be seated by their verified swim time .”

In previous races, it was an honor system which according to him did not work as well as they hoped it would. This according to the founder of Sunrise events, would offer a much smoother and safer swim start for everyone.

On the other hand, the Ironman team would expect a lot of personal bests from the pro athletes by Sunday in the out bat bike course. “Since the course is relatively flat, straightforward and easy to navigate, the athletes would surely be lightning-quick in cruising through the 90-kilometer bike route,” the organizers said.

The last leg of the race will be running as athletes would finish out their journey back to where they started off at Azuela Cove, in Davao City.

Duyan ng Magiting

Among the highlights of the Alveo Ironman 70.3 Davao, is the custom-made medals and trophies that the triathletes would receive after surviving the race.

“When I was asked to I said to design the medal for Ironman that I can only do it if I carry the beautiful culture of Mindanao,” Kublai said.

IRONMAN 70.3 DAVAO MEDAL. Davao artist Kublai Milan presents the medal he designed for the Ironman 70.3 Davao triathlon race in a press conference on Friday, March 23, 2018 at the Azuela Cove. The medal is a miniature version of the Agong, an indigenous percussion instrument usually made of bronze or brass. Engraved on the medal are symbols for swimming, biking, and running, representing the events during the race. (Mark Joy G. Basallajes/davaotoday.com)

The medals are designed as a native metal percussion instrument called agong. Inscribed within the agong are symbols of the triathlon (swimming, biking and running). The T’boli tribe in South Cotabato was mobilized to finish the 1,800 orders of medals while Kublai personally hand-painted the designs of the trophies for the places in the race.

“The difficulty of the race is as difficult as the making of the medal we hope that all athletes would carry the proud of our face our beautiful culture,” he added.

Kublai’s, and the T’bolis’, work would also show to the world the capability of the tribes to work professionally “to come up with such craftsmanship and it would be a testament on how they can combine promoting tourism and preserving and celebrating culture,” the organizers said.


When asked about joining the race, the Mayor simply mentioned that she would take part only in the starting gunshot and the awarding ceremony on Sunday. The security-based on Duterte’s statement is handled by the public safety and security command center under the mayor’s office.

“Having coordinated with the Philippine National Police and the armed forces of the Philippines, it’s a holistic security package that integrates all the units operating in Davao City, Panabo, Carmen, Tagum City,” Duterte explained.

The planning was done since December last year, and the security team has assured her that all was set and ready for the event. Duterte said the Davao police force , was also preparing for the Holy week security ” not just for Ironman because everything is set .”

Meet the pro

With the number of participants this year and the amount of support that the brand has received, the Alveo Ironman 70.3 Davao is the single best inaugural race in the history of Sunrise Events, Uytengso said.

Among the 1,800 participants were 23 professional athletes, five of them were already champions in previous races. They were Ironman 70.3 Vietnam Champion from Hungary, Anna Eberhardt; Dimity Lee Duke from Australia who is part of the Alaska team; Erin Green of USA; Sarah Lester of Australia; from Australia, Kate Crawford and Kirra Seidel; First year professionals from Australia Lysa Tyack and Laura Brown; Ironman champion in Japan, Naomi Washizu; multiple Ironman champion who 10 weeks ago became a first time mother, Radka Kahlefeldt of Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, the male pros are composed of the following triathletes – Tim Reed from Australia who is part of the Alaska Team; the heartthrob athlete from Mexico, Mauricio Mendez; Another Alaska team member from Australia, Tim Van Berkel; Ausie Athletes, Sam Betten and Ben Allen; Australia Craig Alexander; South Africa Kyle Bukingham and Bradley Weiss; Brent Mcmahon of Canda; Bahrain of Eric Watson; and Rodrigo Azevedo of Columbi.

These athletes along with about 1,800 more triathletes will battle it out on Sunday as history takes place in the land of promise. (davaotoday.com)

About the contributor: Trisha Mae B. Lopina is the editor of Ang Tulay, the official Filipino student publication of the Ateneo de Davao University Senior High School Department.

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