Spanish-Filipino triathlete Fernando “Fer” Casares, one of the early favorites in Ironman 70.3 Puerto Princesa, got off to a strong start at Sunday’s race by finishing the single-loop 1.9-kilometer swim in the fastest time and was the first to move on to the bike course.

In the first 1.5 kilometers of the bike race, he fell behind Dutch triathlete Eric van der Linden, but regained the lead in the following six kilometers until Satar Salem overtook him at 34 kilometers. He never recovered the advantage against Salem, and eventually John Alcala and Mervin Santiago, until the half-Ironman course’s conclusion.

Alcala owned the day by winning the best time (4:32:21) in the Ironman Overall Age Group Men, followed by Santiago (4:37:24), and Jailani Lamama (4:39:47).

With a time of 4:41:22, early favorite Casares placed 3rd out of 26 in his 25-29 male age group, 5th place out of 592 by gender, and 9th place out of 786 in the overall.

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“I was kind of disappointed, especially with my run. I pushed harder on the bike… I think I can’t complain on the results. I should have pushed less on the bike, so that I get to run faster, but it was my choice. Bad choice,” he said.

“But then I’m happy I got to finish the race,” Casares added. “I’m really happy for John Alcala, he did an amazing race… I’m quite happy.”

Casares, a member of the Philippine Triathlon Team, was among the formidable contenders in the triathlon community. According to a story written about him by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, he’s an age-grouper in the past, who wanted to become a teacher until he met Filipino triathletes in Portugal who were training.

He introduced himself and stated that he intended to compete for the Philippines on behalf of his Bulacan-born mother.

“I learned a lot from this experience and I think I’m going to do better in the next… probably in Davao. If my skill will allow me,” he said.

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has been with Palawan News since January 2019. She is its managing editor, overseeing and coordinating day-to-day editorial activities. Her writing interests are politics and governance, health, defense, investigative journalism, civic journalism, and the environment.