TOP FINISHERS. Merry Joy Trupa and Raymund Torio lead the top finishers in the elite categories of the New Clark City Duathlon Race in Capas, Tarlac on Sunday (July 17, 2022). More than 650 duathletes competed in the race. (Photo courtesy of GoClark Sports and Events)

CAPAS, Tarlac – Raymund Torio and Rambo Chicano, the Philippines' representatives to the Southeast Asian Games men's duathlon event last May in Hanoi, headlined the top finishers in the New Clark City Duathlon Race on Sunday at the said complex here, once again stomping their class as the country's top duathletes right now.

Torio and Chicano were 1-2 in the elite male category, but interestingly enough, the former beat the latter, the heavy favorite for the said event, by two seconds to win the gold.

Torio completed the race course at two hours, 22 minutes, and 46 seconds, while Chicano crossed the finish line at 2:22:48.

He admitted that he was surprised he overtook Chicano, who came just 15 seconds shy of landing a medal in the SEA Games two months ago, in the end.

"Hindi ko po alam kung ano ang nangyari kay John Leerams. Maybe nagsa-suffer siya sa side stitch kasi usually, di ko naman siya nalalagpasan sa race. Nagkataon lang talaga na ako ang nanalo (I don't know what happened to John Leerams. Maybe he suffered from a side stitch because usually, I don't overtake him in a race. It just so happened that I won)," said Torio, who was sixth in the SEA Games race.

Finishing third in the male elite division was fellow national pool member John Patrick Ciron, who clocked in at 2:24:03.

Being in the same team, the top male finishers were in sync for most of the race, completing the first running phase and the cycling phase together.

The difference came in the final run when Torio and Chicano slightly pulled away from Ciron.

However, when Chicano began to feel the side stitch, formally known as exercise-related transient abdominal pain, he let Torio finish first although still remaining in sync.

"Sa last three kilometers, medyo nag-back up si Ciron. Tapos sa sprint finish, doon na nauna si Raymund (In the last three kilometers, Ciron played backup. Then in the sprint finish, Raymund pulled away)," Chicano relayed how the finish went.

Meanwhile, 20-year-old duathletes Merry Joy Trupa and Elaine Quismundo showed that the future is bright for Philippine women's duathlon as they took the 1-2 finish in the elite women category.

Trupa won the race after finishing it in three hours and 39 seconds, while Quismundo took the silver at the time of 3:10:01.

Both calling Tarlac their habitat, Trupa and Quismundo made good use of the home province advantage to show their class among the other female duathletes.

"Parang mas advantage sa amin ito na taga-dito kami. Napagaralan namin yung run and bike courses. Bago dumating ang event na ito, chineck na namin yung ruta (It was an advantage for us that we live here. We were able to study the run and bike courses. Before the event, we checked the route)," Quismundo said.

"Kailangan din kasi natin, bilang athlete, alamin yung lalaruan and i-check nang mabuti kung saan ang mga U-turn para di tayo ma-miss. Kasama kasi sa laro yun (As athletes, we need to study and check properly the U-turns so we can't miss. It's part of the game)," added Trupa.

Former national team member Pawie Fornea came in third with a time of 3:19:16.

More than 650 duathletes competed in the race where they first ran for 12 kilometers, biked for 50 more, and finished it with another six-kilometer run.

The race course is slightly longer than the Olympic standard of 10-40-5. (PNA)