Tag Archives: Ironman World Championships Hawaii

Pinoy Hospitality in Hawaii :)

I’ve been to Kona only twice so far, but it feels like my second home because of all the Filipinos on the Big Island!  I could never thank each and every one of them enough.  Nel Venzon, the best tour guide around, is always ready to take care of us. Our homestays were both Pinoys, first we stayed at Gelly Borromeo’s place in Alii Lani, and this time we stayed with Bong Agatep and his family in Lanakoi, just up Hualalai road…. very conveniently located, except for the fact that we had to climb uphill every time we went home haha… great workout in our huffies that’s for sure!

Of course our day would not be complete without hanging out at Tante’s… which served as our base while in town. It makes me proud to see the Filipino Resto brimming with so many people… and of course Kuya Tante and Ate Telly and the rest of the staff are just wonderful!  On race morning we even watched the swim portion from the roofdeck… if you look closely at the picture in the newspaper, I am one of the tiny tiny people, wearing a pink shirt, with the white headsweats visor and a dslr camera (thank you nanay for lending it to me!) … well of course you will need a magnifying glass haha… i just found that so cool!

I did some artwork with cray pas that I found in Borders for Tante and Bong’s family… a small way of showing my appreciation.

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Some Bike Check In Photos from Ironman Worlds 2010

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Kona Underpants Run 2010

One of my favorite Kona 2010 moments… what fun!!!

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Ironman World Championships 2010 Athletes Parade

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Around the Big Island of Hawaii

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My Ironman World Championships Race Story


 Ani Karina Sarabia de Leon

The Goal: Finish Line at Alii Drive

The Goal: Finish Line at Alii Drive

My Ironman World Championships Race Story (as written for Metro Active) Today I was able to achieve my lifelong dream.  I know that not many people get to say that.  I officially became an Ironman World Championships participant—I definitely know not very many people get to say that either. Treading the waters of Kailua-Kona Bay minutes before the race start, it almost felt like I was still watching one of those videos that I had seen hundreds of times…except for the fact that now, the giant inflatable Gatorade bottle was right beside me, and I was about to swim with a big mass of people—1,800 strong and unbelievably able bodies to be exact.  It felt surreal. How did I get here, in the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii, qualified to join the greatest competition known to my sport, the Everest that all triathletes aspire to? Everything that led up to this moment suddenly flashed in my mind.  My first efforts at swimming freestyle with the help of Coaches Bernie and Noel at the U.P. pool.  My first ride in the countryside on a borrowed road bike.  My first frustrated attempts at running.  My first triathlon competition.  My long stint as a national athlete.  My countless hours of training and racing, and with it, all my career ups and downs, triumphs and disappointments, precious friends gained, lessons learned the hard way, and literally all the blood, sweat and tears that I spilled to get to where I am now.  It was an incredible journey, and one that I treasure as much as the destination itself. The cannonball fired by the US Navy to signal the race start jolts me back to reality immediately, and a mass of world-class triathletes jostle frantically for position in the water.  All that pent-up energy from months and months of preparation and anticipation are instantly unleashed and I cannot begin to describe the chaos of it all.  These were all warriors hungry for battle, and I am right there with them.  Amazingly, after a few hundred meters, I feel relaxed and it feels like any other race, and for the moment, I forget the fact that I am in the world championships.  Despite the non-stop aggression going on around me all the way to the end of the 3.8km swim, I settle into a good rhythm.  I get out of the azure waters thoroughly primed for the toughest legs still ahead: the 180km bike and the 42.2km run.  I had done my homework, and I wasn’t completely terrified.  Just a little bit…. The pros who had done this race a couple of times had forewarned me about the powerful winds which were notorious for blowing away athletes off the course.  They weren’t kidding.  Just like any typical triathlete, I had set personal time goals for my race. As I rode further out, I had a sinking feeling that I was not going to meet my target for the bike.  The winds were so strong and I felt horribly unequipped to maneuver my way through it.  My tires were literally bouncing off the road with each blast that the seas and lava fields blew in my direction. I couldn’t even let go of my handlebars long enough to drink from my bottle or to down an energy gel. I was getting tired—more mentally than physically.  I was sadly aware that I was not 100% in control of the situation.  I was fighting so hard to stay in the race, and I went in and out of it so many times.  What people don’t realize about Ironman distance racing is that it is such a long day that your attention span and your focus will inevitably wane.  I knew this of course, but that didn’t prevent it from happening.  Fortunately, I also knew that even it you get into a really bad patch, you could snap out of it and get a second wind again as if nothing happened.  I finally complete the bike leg, with much relief that I could put the winds of the Big Island behind me, and also that I didn’t suffer any crashes or mechanical problems. Now a 42.2km marathon on its own is enough to intimidate a normal person, but as I looked at my fellow competitors, this didn’t seem to bother them one bit.  It was just another day at the office.  I took my cue from them, and focused on the task at hand.  A good triathlon coach once told me, even if you are running 42km, just concentrate on the one square kilometer in front of you.  This proved to be a real good piece of advice, and as I passed mile marker by mile marker, I quietly gave myself a pat on the back.  The spectators all over the race course gave us such wonderful positive energy and this helped me move a little bit faster.  My trusty support crew of two, Patrice and Joel wrote a note for me at the motivational corner which read “Philippines Loves U,” and I choked back my emotions upon reading it.  It fired me up even more. Everyone was feeling the heat (I later learned that it reached 40C) especially towards the Energy Lab but that didn’t affect me so much.  I was hopeful till almost the very end that I would make it to my personal target of sub-12 hours.  But then when I hit the last 2 miles and realized that I needed to run two 5+ minute miles, I ditched the whole thing and just planned to enjoy myself and savor the final minutes.  Patrice had been given specific instructions to 1) find a pole to attach to the flag, 2) hand me the flag on Hualalai Road, and he had been alone in that corner waiting for me for almost two hours.  And upon seeing him I could only shout “give me my flag!!!” because I had been repeating that mantra to myself for hours by then.  I didn’t forget to thank him after the race.  But right now I was focused on seeing that finish chute, and I could finally hear the music and Mike Riley’s booming voice on the speakers. The last few hundred meters are indescribable.  I was already sobbing and I had to wipe my wet face before I hit the lights on the carpet.  The noise from the crowd was deafening but I had played those final seconds countless times in my mind and I knew what I had to do next.  I proudly waved the Philippine Flag to everybody, in its debut here on Ironman World Championships grounds, and it was beautiful. Race Day (5) I wanted to show it on behalf of all the people back home who had been waiting for this moment just like me.  I blew a kiss, took a low bow and thanked the Goddess Pele silently for teaching me a lesson in humility but at the same time being kind enough to grant me a PR. I raised the flag once again and proceeded to let myself be embraced by two Filipina catchers, Lovette and Sally, who had chosen to volunteer and wait for me to arrive. I let the tears flow freely.  I had done my job and I was glad.  My lifelong dream had come true. for more pictures, you can visit http://anikarina.multiply.com/photos/album/82/Hawaii_Ironman_World_Champs_30th_Edition http://anikarina.multiply.com/photos/album/78

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Ex-swimmer takes world’s toughest triathlon test

Ex-swimmer takes world’s toughest triathlon test Sep 14, ’08 9:00 PM
for everyone

Ex-swimmer takes world’s toughest triathlon test

By Francis Ochoa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:13:00 09/11/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Anyone who had caught a glimpse of 9-year-old Ani Karina De Leon staying up way past her bedtime and feverishly adding the final touches to “a sketch or story made up of drawings” before finally surrendering to sleep would have known even then that she was the type who finished whatever she started.
“I did not care what time it was,” recalled the now 33-year-old De Leon. “I just felt like I had to finish the sketch.”
Whatever that indistinguishable impetus was, it has served her well—even if it didn’t exactly serve the artist in her.
The former University of the Philippines swimming standout is now the country’s top female triathlete after accomplishing what no one else before her has: Qualifying for the Ironman World Triathlon Championships in Hawaii.
The event kicks off on Oct. 11.
For the clueless, triathlon is a lung-crushing sport that demands a mastery of three disciplines—swimming, biking and running. In extended distances.
Basketball’s NBA
The Ironman version of the sport is the mecca of triathletes. It is a basketball player’s NBA.
“Doing the Ironman version of triathlon is always at the back of any triathlete’s head,” De Leon explained. But not all triathletes take it seriously.
After all, Olympic triathlon is already as tough as it gets. After swimming in open, oft-choppy waters for 1.5 kilometers (that’s like swimming 30 laps in an Olympic-sized pool—during a 5.0 earthquake), you mount a bike and pedal like the end of the world is near for another 40 kilometers (Manila to Malolos, give or take a few Ks).
As if that’s not enough, when you dismount from the bike, you have to run another 10 kilometers (Manila to Pasig).
To those competing in the Ironman World Championships, Olympic triathlon has a simpler term: Warmups.
The Ironman version calls for a 3.8k swim, 180k bike (Manila to about 20k short of Lingayen, Pangasinan) and 42k run, which is equivalent to a full marathon.
So what’s a weaned-on-the-arts gal whose name means “harvest” in English doing in a sport that after you compete in makes you feel like someone is wrapping rose stalks around every muscle in your body?
“After graduating from UP, there was no masters competition for swimming and that was hard for me because I’m really such a competitive person,” said the interior design major.
“That’s why my sister and I, along with some friends decided to try triathlon, which at that time, was new in the country,” she explained.
When “at that time” came around, Ani and her sister Sinag (They have a brother named Diwa) had finished competing for the UP swim team in the UAAP. Ani had also carved her own niche in a four-year stint at the Palarong Pambansa. But the rush of competitive juices simply refused to be quelled.
“Since I already knew how to swim and I was pretty confident I could handle the bike part because my sister and I used to ride a lot when we were kids, I was pretty confident that I could do triathlon,” recalled the butterfly specialist. “I played a lot of games when I was a kid so I figured the run part would be easy.”
So easy that even when she was a newbie in the sport, De Leon plunged into competition right away, participating in the 1994 Subic International Triathlon event.
The result?
“Put it this way: After I competed there, I didn’t want to do it again,” she said, laughing. “I didn’t even run the whole way. There were parts when I simply walked.”
But where the body yielded, the competitive spirit kicked into high gear.
Borrowed bike
“I just decided to train harder, and this time, train properly,” said De Leon, recalling she was ill-prepared for the Subic tilt that she even rode a bike she borrowed just five days before the event.
But those days are behind her now. She has competed for the Philippines in the Southeast Asian Games as a triathlete in Manila (2005) and Thailand (2007). She also was in the 2003 team to Vietnam, but as a cyclist.
And now, after topping her age-group in the Malaysia qualifying last Feb. 28, she’s headed for Hawaii.
“I’m just excited because not a lot of people get the chance to do this,” she said, conveniently forgetting that not a lot of people would even think of trying.
Her time when she ruled the 30-34 women’s age group was 12 hours and 21 minutes.
“That’s still too far from the times of the best women triathletes in the World Championships,” she said.
And then there are other problems. Triathlon being a new sport, financial support doesn’t come easy for those who participate in it. De Leon has had to rely on sponsors who help fund her trips abroad.
In fact her benefactors are hosting a hula party on Thursday at the Mag.net Cafe on Bonifacio High to raise funds for her Hawaii stint.
And when she finally gets to the World Championships, a little reality check helps her put things in perspective: De Leon’s time is about two hours slower than what the top female triathletes in the world have accomplished in the Ironman championships.
Not only that, her opponents have well-funded year-round training.
Singapore race
De Leon, on the other hand, makes do with what she has. For warm-up, she recently managed to sign up for a Singapore race which is half the length of the Hawaii Ironman event.
She finished 15 seconds behind the eventual winner—and she even took a wrong turn on a forked highway, carrying her bike past whizzing cars in the freeway just to get back on course.
“I have no illusions,” said De Leon. “I still have a lot of work to do and for me, just being able to race against the best and at the same time learn how to compete in the Ironman is really a big, big thing.”
So cross off expectations of podium finishes.
They mean little, after all, to Ani Karina de Leon, the once energetic 9-year-old kid who would squeeze every drop of wakefulness from the late hours to finish an even meaningless sketch and in the process, learned to value the art of making it to the finish.


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Ironman Langkawi 2008 Race Report

Best Finish Ever 8

Ironman Langkawi Race Report   Feb 27, ’08 9:47 PM
for everyone

Hi all,


Thanks so much to everyone who sent good luck and congratulatory messages. It is amazing reading all of them and seeing how some of you were able to keep track of our individual splits and race updates.  It was a really really good weekend for me and the rest of the Filipino crew in Langkawi. One of my friends asked if it was my most significant moment in triathlon so far, and I guess I hadn’t processed what had happened yet at that point, so when I looked at him blankly, Maiqui Dayrit, who was standing beside me then answered a big hearty “Yes!” on my behalf.  I had him and Mark Ellis to thank for getting me safely to the finish line (more on that later), and although the race is over, I can still feel the outstanding support I constantly receive from friends like them.


Those who are close to me know that joining Ironman Worlds in Hawaii has been one of my fondest dreams for many years now, and a year ago I decided I couldn’t shelve it any longer. I didn’t mind the heat too much considering my genetics so it was either going for it in Langkawi or a lottery entry.  I’m not ashamed to say that I tried both ways, but now I can see why God never intended for me to win in the Hawaii Sweepstakes draw when I entered it! 


Crossing the finish line wasn’t an easy feat, and I had to fight hard for that slot. Although I am a veteran triathlete, I am a beginner to this distance and had a lot of doubts during the course of the race, particularly the latter end of the bike and the run leg.  I had to stop at every single aid station (a total of 41) just to pour water on myself because otherwise I would have overheated, and I still don’t regret taking the time to do that.  I had blisters from lap 1 because I would rather have wet socks and shoes than get dehydrated. I knew I was leading in my category and I also knew that the Frenchwoman from Reunion Island was chasing me down.  It’s one thing to have someone breathing down your neck for 10km, but for 42km, it is extremely stressful.  It was a fine balance of sticking to my plan and known limits and not trying to be reactive to her—I didn’t want to push too hard too early and then crash.  She kept gaining on me, and from a lead of almost 20min, I only had 3 minutes on her at the very last turnaround with 7km to go.  It didn’t take a genius to compute that she would soon overtake me if I continued with my pace. It was then that a switch suddenly turned on inside my head and I started running like a madwoman.  I knew I could handle running fast for that remaining distance, and I could not leave anything more to chance.  I wanted that Hawaii slot, and there was no way I was going to hand it to her. From then on it was only a hurried sip of water and defizzed Coke from the aid stations.  I was now getting annoyed at the narrow run path and having to overtake people when earlier on I was happily cheering for them.  At 1.5km to go I spotted Mark and Maiqui, and realized I had just whittled down the 6 minute gap they had on me so I was even more encouraged.  I caught up with them with 1km to go.  They were startled but happy to see me, only to quickly discover that I had no intentions of staying with them for a merry chat.  In between breaths I explained and apologized profusely that I was leading but someone was closing in on me, so I had to go, NOW.  They immediately took in the weight of the situation due to my panic-stricken expression and decided to pick up their speed too.  Mark said later on that he didn’t realize that his legs would follow his brain’s command in switching from a 7minute/km pace to a 4:30/km pace just like that.  They were my saviors in that last, long kilometer to the finish line.  It was a frenzy of shouting, panting, crying, and egging each other on.  Mark, who was obviously still the best runner among us, ran in front and took on the role of rabbit.  I kept asking Maiqui to look at the back to check if anyone was there, and he would say “no one Ani, no one”….that is, until the last 300meters, when he said, “I think someone is at the back, let’s pick it up some more,” and the turn to the finish couldn’t possibly have come sooner.  When we finally

made it to the chute, I burst into tears from relief, joy, fatigue, and gratitude….the three of us crossed the line in a tight embrace, and our faces in the finish line pictures will say it all.  Mark was jubilant, I was crying, and Maiqui was just plain happy.  The person immediately behind us turned out to be someone else, and the girl second to me ended up finishing more than a minute behind.  We made it.  It was more than I could have ever hoped for, and I had done it with my friends.


I didn’t embark on this journey alone, and I definitely felt that my angels were with me leading up to Langkawi and that they worked even harder to give me strength on race day.  My fellow Pinoys in the race course and family and friends who were praying from back home gave a steady stream of great energy so I cannot ever claim to have accomplished everything by myself.  The Fitness First Tri Team–Mark, Doray, Joel, Maiqui and Gianina, Ige, JC, Chari;  the Tri Clark Gang and their families, led by Abe, June, Rico, Jumbo, Raffy, Chris, Abby, Tintin (also of David’s Salon); the Tri Hard Boys—Vic, Vinny, Greg and Paolo (also of TRIADS); Retzel, Alex, and Leo, were the finest bunch of people anyone could ever train, travel and race with.  My dear friend Vera and his trusty group of Thai triathletes took good care of me and my bike the whole weekend. Just so I could prepare better, Pia offered a room in her house to me in Alabang without my even having to ask for it, and I cannot possibly repay all the support that she and the rest of the Cayetano family have provided me.  My own family, especially my mom and sister, put up with my many absences and remain very patient and understanding to my chosen sport. 


Well, that’s my post-race report for now, sorry I couldn’t make it shorter.  Let’s cheer for our racers this coming weekend in Taupo, NZ…Manda, Jonjon, Andy, Deo, Cris, and Rune, hope they will have happy stories to bring home too! 




Female Age 30-34
Place Bib Name Nat Cat Swim Chg1 Bike AftBike Run Total
1 625 Ani Karina De Leon PHL F 30/34 1:04:49 0:02:21 6:01:11 7:08:20 5:07:05 12:21:17
2 624 Soizic Coudiere REU F 30/34 1:06:27 0:02:36 6:20:34 7:29:37 4:49:43 12:22:40
3 637 Emma Penver MYS F 30/34 1:45:55 0:05:58 6:25:43 8:17:35 4:33:42 12:59:15


Thanks to Jumbo for compiling this:

Pinoy Finishers Total time
Tayag, Abe 11:07:15
Oracion, Leo 11:21:02
Bautista, Alex 11:27:55
Kit Jr., Rosalino 11:48:07
Dayrit, Marco 12:21:16
Ellis, Mark 12:21:16
De Leon, Ani 12:21:17
Ayson, Enrico 12:47:02
Tayag, Jumbo 13:13:21
Ouano, Paulo 13:14:49
Munoz, Joel 13:17:52
Ellis, Rhodora 13:22:50
Orquiza, Retzel 13:37:42
Zapata, Jose 14:34:47
Tongson, Vincent 14:47:03
Ongyanco, Chari 14:36:32
Tongson, Vincent 14:47:03
Navarro, Christine 14:48:27
Magno, Victor 15:53:43
Manas, Johann. 15:12:15
Nepomuceno, Chris 16:17:55
Banzon, Gregory 17:06:03

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Travel and take the road back with you

Travel and take the road back with you Apr 26, ’07 2:59 AM
for everyone

Travel and take the road back with you



My dear uncle, whom I have lengthy conversations with, once waved a question in front of me as we were driving along the highway.  He said, “Do you have a list of 100 things you want to do before you die?”  I was jolted out of my tranquil state of mind at his query and was forced to start up with one for the remainder of the trip.


My list isn’t finished yet because I keep editing it.  Scanning through it though, I’ve noticed that there is a trend so far—the items are all about doing different things unique to certain places.  For example, entry number 6: cycle up the Alpe D’ Huez in France, or number 39: ride the desert train which leads to the Taj Mahal in India.


My feet get very restless and I like that unexplainably gleeful sensation I get, seeing my passport filled up with all sorts of seals and stamps.  I like complaining about foreign weather and I like trying out dishes with names I cannot pronounce.  I like trying to analyze people from other cultures, acknowledging their diversity yet always arriving to the conclusion that we are all the same.  I like how my brain figures out a way of adjusting to each novel and puzzling situation it encounters (and knowing myself, there is always something that will come up wherever I am, whether I plan it or not). 


Most of all I like going back home and I like the way I look at old things from a new perspective.  Sometimes if you stare at a painting too closely and too long you only see the strokes and fail to see what they are trying to represent.  You have to take a few steps back and rest your eyes on something else before looking at the artwork again.  Only then can you appreciate the masterpiece standing right in front of you.


It is not uncommon for people who are fresh from deplaning to give a wince upon setting foot in NAIAOh what a lousy airport, we shamefacedly think as we try to imagine what a disgusting impression we must be making on our visitors.  And then we extend this ranting to the ugly roads, the pollution, the hopeless traffic jams and anything and everything bad there is to notice.  We like to criticize and talk about the things that our country falls short of, and we like to compare it with other nations and all the great things that they have.  Of course there will always be disparities.  And then finally we agree that it is much too overwhelming and stressful to come up with a plan to solve it all.


I am not going to hide the fact that I get embarrassed too every time I land and have to be reminded of our shortcomings right away.  You know what though, cliché as it is, there really is no place like home, and no first-world convenience can supplant the affection the Philippines has in my heart.   


I know that not too long ago I had been feeling a creeping helplessness that in spite of my awareness of what else is out there, I was still not ready or equipped to make something good and progressive and mind-bogglingly brilliant to be of enough importance to my beloved motherland. I know now too, however, that the answer is not really complicated, as most good solutions are. 


In my list, I wrote down: entry number 1) Make yourself count to those who matter most to you, and entry number 2) Do what you can, and do it well. 


Oh, and I also put for entry number 3) Join the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii—but that’s another story.

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