CEBU, Philippines – (UPDATED) Mexican Mauricio Mendez and Czech Radka Kahlefeldt claimed their biggest triumphs to date, after besting an elite field in the Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championships on Sunday morning at the Shangri-La's Mactan Resort and Spa in Lapu-Lapu City.
Four months after ruling the inaugural Ironman 70.3 in Davao, the 22-year-old Mendez turned in a stellar performance to annex the coveted Asia Pacific men's crown. The Mexican checked in a 3:46.45, well ahead of Bermuda's Tyler Butterfield (3:47.39), Braden Currie (3:48.12) and multi-titled Australians Tim Reed (3:52.51) and Craig Alexander (3:54.09).
Kahlefeldt, whose triumph in Davao last March came just three months after the birth of her first child, also sustained her top form to finish the event in 4:12.13.
Cheered on by her husband Brad and seven-month-old daughter Ruby, Kahlefeldt was over eight minutes clear of Swiss star Caroline Steffen. Steffen had to overcome a tire puncture to clock in a second-best 4:21.50. Pre-event favorite Mel Hauschildt settled for third place with a time of 4:22.50.
"It's the biggest win of my 70.3 career, so I'm super happy," said Mendez, a former XTERRA world champion.
Running seventh after the 90K bike, Mendez cranked it up in the footrace and blew by pacesetter Butterfield by the 16th kilometer mark on Punta Engano Road, initially seizing a 22-second lead. He kept his feet on the pedal the rest of the way and went on to win it by 54 seconds.
"This is unexpected. I prepared myself to win but I don't know, everyone is super strong here and prepared, too. I'm really happy to take the win and I want to keep myself going in the sport," said the Mexican, dedicating this to his family, especially his late uncle, who died in a car crash two years ago.
Kahlefeldt also made her big move in the culminating run. Trailing Lauren Brandon by 12 seconds after the ride, Kahlefeldt virtually flew out her bike and transitioned into run, keeping a blistering pace that left her pursuers struggling to keep up and zooming to a seven-minute gap en route to her most shining victory to date.
"Winning the championship is amazing but winning it in such a strong field made it even better," said Kahlefeldt.
American Lauren Goss was the second to breast the tape at 4:20.12 but she was later disqualified due to her failure to serve penalty for a blocking violation committed in the first lap of bike.
Cebu-based Banjo Norte also grabbed the spotlight in the $75,000 event as he topped the men's Asian Elite category with a time of 4:24:34. Alexandra Ganzon reigned in the distaff side in 5:04.52.
All finishers received pearl-studded "Perlas ng Silanganan" medals created by renowned designer Kenneth Cobonpue.
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