5150 champ targets title in Ironman

SATAR SALEM expects to have firmed up the last four weeks as he doubled his buildup for a crack at another championship in a premier endurance race where the stakes are much higher and the test a lot tougher.

But Lanao del Norte’s top triathlete is unfazed by the odds, ready to take on the best and the toughest, both from the international field and the world class course, in the Megaworld Ironman 70.3 Philippines presented by AIA Vitality blasting off Sunday at The Mactan Newtown in Lapu-Lapu City.

The 26-year-old spearhead of Tri SND Barracuda stepped up his preparations for Ironman’s return to Cebu after ruling his age group and winning the overall championship in the Sun Life 5150 Bohol last month, aware of the challenges awaiting him at the country’s top triathlon hub where he emerged the top Filipino finisher in the Ironman Asia Pacific Championship in 2018. He timed four hours and 30 minutes while competing in the 18-24 category.

Majority of the close to 2,000 bidders, including bets from 46 countries, have arrived in Cebu, which also hosted the 2018 Ironman 70.3 As-Pac Championship. They’re all bracing for a grueling battle of speed and stamina on a new, challenging racecourse starting and ending at The Mactan Newtown.

Twelve titles in various age divisions will be disputed in the event, organized by the Ironman Group/Sunrise Events Inc., which also offers 30 slots to next year’s World Championship in Finland.

A total of 1,113 entries are vying in the individual competitions to be spiced up by the chase for the CEO trophy with the rest clashing for top honors in team events, including the relay all male and all female and the relay mixed.

Salem’s recent 5150 clocking of 2:07:40 over the Olympic distance of 1.5-km swim, 40-km bike and 10-km run should put him in good stead in the upcoming 1.9-km swim, 90-km bike and 21-km run from Cebu City to Talisay, to Mandaue City and back at Lapu-Lapu City that will also put into focus the country’s longest bridge, the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway.

The 8.9-km modern toll road in Metro Cebu will host the bike leg, marking the first time that the CCLEX will serve as a race route for a sporting event since it started operations last April.