Juan Francisco ‘Wacky’ Baniqued survived another sprint finish to to win his final Alaska Ironkids triathlon title last Saturday in Cebu. (Photo by Jamil Buergo)
MACTAN, Cebu – Juan Francisco ‘Wacky’ Baniqued and Tara Borlain shared top honors for the last time in the Alaska Ironkids Triathlon last Saturday held at the posh Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa.
Both Wacky and Tara are consistent participants and top podium finishers of Alaska Ironkids.
Baniqued topped the 13-14 year old category with a time of 0:38:49.4. The win also made the 14-year old Baniqued a two-time grandslam champion having won all Alaska Ironkids events this year, a feat he also achieved back in 2015. The win didn’t come easy for Baniqued as he survived another sprint finish to cap his Ironkids career.
Sprinting with Baniqued to the finish line was Joseff Miguel Quirino who came in a fraction of a second late with 0:38:49.5. Finishing third was Adrian Thomas Dionisio (0:38:57.9).
The 14-year old from San Pedro Laguna wanted to pull away early as he knew how tough the competition is considering his closest rival Clifford Pusing, who engaged Baniqued to two sprint finishes early this year, was also in the race. “I wanted to attack early” said Baniqued. “But my foot was being pulled early in the swim thus I couldn’t get the lead in the first turn. Luckily I managed to win despite my rivals being so close to me throughout the race” adds Baniqued, who represented the country in the recent ASTC Triathlon Asian Championships in Palembang, Indonesia.
Not contented with his earlier win, Baniqued earned his second title of the day as he joined his earlier competitors Russel Villiarasa and Adrian Thomas Dioniso to win the 10-14 year old relay category.
In the girls 13-14 year old category, Tara Borlain breezed through her competitors as she crossed the finish line unopposed with a time of 0:41:33.7, more than 4 minutes to spare than her closest rival. Nicole Marie Del Rosario (0:45:20.2) and Marielle Estreba (0:45:45.8) finished second and third respectively behind Borlain.
A member of the Alaska Triathlon team together with her sisters, Tara capped an illustrious Ironkids career thanking his very supportive parents. “It’s been 9 years since we’ve been doing triathlon together and we made it” says Tara referring to her parents. “Together as a family, they helped me become a better person and made me for who I am now. I couldn’t ask for more” adds Tara.
In the other categories, Hyonde Keum and Moira Frances Erediano topped the 11-12 year old category while Beboy Dolen and Kira Ellis shared the top spot in the 9-12 year old category. Rafael Jopson and Kyle Enialle Toledana won the 6-8 year old category.
The last Alaska Ironkids race of the served as the curtain raiser to the Ironman 70.3 weekend in Mactan. A record-breaking 364 boys and girls participated in the event held last Saturday.