The Ironmen Among Us: Full-distance triathlon finishers come from all walks of life
ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 21, 2018 10:16 AM
Here are stories of five people who’ve strived in life and finished a full-distance triathlon.
The Philippines finally hosts its first full Ironman, the first full-distance triathlon race happening on June 3, 2018 in Subic Bay.
Filipino triathletes now have the opportunity to join on home soil. With only over 300 Pinoy triathletes completing a full Ironman, it’s a testament to just how tough the combined swim (3.86 km), bike (180.25 km), and run (42.2 km) event is.
But amid the tough task, there are some Ironman finishers who come from all walks of life.
Here are stories of five people who’ve strived in life and finished a full-distance triathlon, one of the most grueling chalenges of human endurance.
Robert Jonah Rivera, 52, Manager
The dream of becoming an Ironman seemed impossible for Robert Jonah Rivera. He once weighed 220 lbs and was unable to run three kilometers continuously. But three years after getting fitter and getting into triathlon, Rivera wanted to test his limits.
“I was training every day for six months. It's hard, yet you feel a good sense of satisfaction whenever you’re done for the day. It drives you to improve,” Rivera shares.
He is also a testament to getting by with the help of friends, something that happened during his Ironman race.
“I saw my buddy Joey Marcelo at T2 and we ran together. We pushed each other, crossing the finish line after 13 hours and 31 minutes,” he said.
His advice to aspiring Ironmen is to be prepared.“You need to be whole-heartedly committed to training and finishing the race. Join as many races as you can leading up to your first Ironman . It builds your confidence.”
Jay Jacinto, 40, Priest
A priest from Naga City, Jay Jacinto earned his Ironman badge in 2014 in Melbourne, Australia at the age of 37. He saw it as part of fulfilling his religious vocation.
“By finishing the Ironman , I wanted to help people understand what it’s like to be a priest. I wanted to show that priests can also have fun and live an active and healthy lifestyle,” shares Jacinto.
Regular training and following a meal plan was tough with Jacinto’s unpredictable schedule as a priest. But thanks to encouragement from his peers, he pushed on.
Jacinto recounts nearly quitting a day before the race. “While celebrating holy mass a day before the race, I prayed to God for courage, and during the holy communion the choir sung one of my favorite songs ‘Be Not Afraid’, giving me the response I was asking for.” Now, he’s not only a priest, he is also a certified Ironman .
Vanj Endaya, 45, Executive
Vanj Endaya first earned her Ironman badge in Langkawi, Malaysia in 2014. Her second successful attempt was last September in Barcelona, Spain.
“Just the thought of crossing the line after so many hours, with the emcee stating ‘you are an Ironman!’ gave me immense satisfaction,” she shares.
Her game plan: maintain a steady and sustainable pace throughout the entire race, and avoid the desire to push ahead. “The feeling is indescribable. It was a combination of euphoria, exhaustion, relief, and I think a little sadness that it was over.”
After crossing the finish line, the knowledge that her body was capable of much more shifted her attitude towards facing daily challenges—from “I can’t” to “I will.”
Gianluca Guidicelli, 56, Businessman
The father of actor Matteo is proof that age is just a number.
Guidicelli was 52-years old when he completed his first Ironman in 2014.
“Since I started in 2010, I knew I’ve always wanted to do an Ironman. I wanted to be ready and it took me four years.”
His three children Paolo, Giorgia, and Matteo are all into the sport and are actively competing as part of Team Ford Forza.
“We are very much into living an active lifestyle. We train every day and share the joy of it with our family and teammates,” he says.
His advice to new triathletes? “Take your time in preparing for an Ironman, the right time will come if you’re ready for it.”
Ani De Leon-Brown, 43, Philippine National Triathlon Coach, full-time mom
A pioneer and fixture in the local triathlons, Ani De Leon-Brown, has completed 12 Ironman races. She made headlines recently for finishing the holy grail of Ironman races—the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii last year.
Aside from her duties as National Triathlon Coach, De Leon-Brown is also a mom. True to the definition of an Ironwoman , she was able to complete an Ironman 70.3 in Singapore and Ironman Australia just months after giving birth.
While she doubted herself, she carried on with training. She had no illusions of being competitive but merely wanted to achieve her goal.”
When asked if it gets any easier as she notched more races, De Leon-Brown says “ it definitely doesn’t get easier. But you learn more each time.“