Felipe Leyritana Sajulga III Age: 33 Group: Caltex Delo – Triathlon Bukidnon (Tri-Bu) Profession/Business: Farmer Triathlon Career Highlights: XTERRA Off-Road Triathlon World Championship – Maui, Hawaii — 2011 & 2012 Ironman 70.3 World Championship – Las Vegas/Henederson, Nevada — 2012 & 2013 5150 U.S. Championship – Des Moines, Iowa — 2013 Ironman 70.3 Japan – Nagoya — 2013 – 4:39:10 (personal best) Ironman Malaysia — Langkawi — 2014 — 10:17:32 (personal best) Ironman 70.3 Philippines –Cebu 2012 — fastest Filipino age-grouper 2013 — 3rd place 30-34 AG XTERRA Philippines — Cebu 2011 – 1st place 30-34 AG 2012 – 1st place 30-34 AG 2013 – 2nd place 30-34 AG Challenge Philippines – Subic 2014 – 4th Filipino overall & 1st Filipino Age Grouper Subic International Triathlon 2012 — 5th Pinoy overall & 2nd 30-34 AG Tabuelan 111 – Cebu 2012 – 2nd overall 2014 – 1st overall Durianman Standard Distance Triathlon — Davao 2012, 2013 & 2014 – 1st place overall White Rock Triathlon — Subic 2010 — 4th overall, 1st 25-29 AG National AgeGroup Triathlon – Cagayan de Oro leg 2013 – 1st overall 2014 – 2nd overall Dinagat Islands Triathlon Challenge 2013 – 3rd overall Mantangale Off-Road Triathlon – Misamis Oriental 2013 – 2nd overall XTrail Off Road Triathlon – Davao 2014 – 3rd overall Milo Marathon National Finals – Manila 2013 – 3:07:56 (personal best) How was your full Ironman Langkawi, Malaysia? The race was really tough as I expected. It has been dubbed “The toughest show on Earth” and one article ranked it as the 3rd hardest Ironman in the world, and rightfully so. My Coach, Mathieu O’halloran, warned me that it will be a Man’s race, mano a mano, so I have to be ready for anything come race day. The hilly bike course and the scorching hot conditions on the run took a toll on everyone as finish times were noticeably high including the PROs. But despite the sufferfest, all 120plus-strong Pinoy participants came home with big smiles. I really enjoyed the whole trip in general as I also had the chance to go around their famous spots and try local food. I will definitely go back there, maybe a couple of years from now, and try harder to get that elusive Kona slot. You’re ranked 27th overall in Langkawi full ironman, while you’re ranked 36th in the last half-Ironman Cebu. Does it mean you are better in full ironman than in 70.3 (half-ironman)? Half and full distances are two different animals so I do not want to compare them, much more specific races. But one thing I’m sure of, I am more comfortable and suited for long distances (half and full) compared to the short ones (standard and sprint) mainly because of my slow swim and I hate the lung-busting pace. The rankings also depend on the strength and depth of the field/competitors and not on one’s performance alone. In 70.3 Cebu, I simply had a bad day. I was feeling great during the lead-up but unfortunately felt flat on race day. The 2012 edition was the best one for me there, I was the fastest Filipino Age-Grouper, 6th Pinoy and 25th overall. Unfortunately, I was not formally recognized then as they mistakenly gave the Datu Lapu Lapu award, supposedly for the top male Filipino Age-Grouper, to the Filipino Elite winner. While in Langkawi, I felt much better on race day so I felt in control the whole race despite the really rough patches in the 2nd of the 2-loop bike and in the 3rd of the 4-loop run. I would love to think that I thrive in hot races. How did you got into triathlon? In mid-September 2009, my basketball buddy from way back in grade school asked me if I was interested in TRI-ing. When I told him I was interested but I do not know how to swim, he immediately offered to help me out. We looked at the Mayor’s Cup – modified sprint triathlon in Davao in November as my first race, so I had a month and a half to prepare. Bought a cheap second hand MTB just to start my training but got a road bike a week before the race as I was told it will make me go faster. Joined a local 1-day 2-man adventure race (we placed 3rd!) and trail run race as part of my preparation and worked double time on my swim to survive the 1km on race day. Finally Tuesday and Thursday of
race week, I was able to swim 1km straight in the pool so I was good to go. So did the race, finished fourth in my AG and got hooked. A month after, I went all the way to UPLB to join the NAGT where I got my first podium finish. 5 years later, I finished my 50th TRIrace in Langkawi Malaysia last month. A funny side note, my friend who encouraged me to TRI only did his first race a year after my first! Which discipline is your strength? Run. Though my right achilles injury has been bothering me for over a year now. Your weakness? SWIM!!! What is that ranking or athlete level you dream you could get for Philippines? I just want to consistently improve and become the best that I can be, regardless if I stay as an age-grouper or move up to Filipino Elte. Do you consider yourself a full-time triathlete? No, but I have control over my schedule so it’s a big advantage. How did you get to be involved heavily in the triathlon sports? When I did my first triathlon race, I instantly got hooked. It is not only a sport for me but a lifestyle, a healthy one. How did you start racing competitively? I have always been very competitive ever since. I played varsity basketball from elementary until college, was even fortunate to play in two Palarong Pambansa (‘97 & ‘98) representing the Northern Mindanao region and in Las Vegas and Los Angeles as a member of the Milo BEST Center 13-14y.o. team in ‘97. I also represented Cagayan de Oro in the ‘97 Palarong Pampook (regionals) for Taekwondo but lost my first fight! 🙂 So it was natural that I carry it over to Triathlon, especially when I realized that I can be competitive in my AG. How do you become a sponsored athlete in PH? Doing good (and winning) in races and having a good personality to match it. Some have it easy through fame and connections though 🙂 Which city / town do you consider your home-base for your triathlon training? Malaybalay City and the Province of BUKIDNON! Your swimming playground? Usually in a 25m pool of a spring resort down south. But cold springs, lakes and waterfalls are aplenty in our province. Your bike playground? The whole of Bukidnon! Your running playground? The whole of Bukidnon! Your most favorite spot among your training grounds? It is impossible to pick one but I like trail running and mountain biking, you can enjoy nature while staying fit. CDO or Northern Mindanao (NM) have produced quite a few podium finishers in triathlon scene, can you say that NM is the equivalent of Boulder, Colorado in Philippines? Ironman 70.3 Filipino Elite champions Neil Catiil (2010) and Banjo Norte (2013) are responsible for putting CDO and the NorMin region in the triathlon map. They have inspired and encouraged a lot of people to get into Triathlon and emulate their success, thus created a winning mindset in the city/region. Expect more future champions to come from here having seen the rapid growth of the sport the past 3-4 years. What do you think does NM have as advantage over other training grounds in Philippines like Subic or Cebu? Accessibility to training grounds/facilities, less traffic on highways and major roads, high elevation (Bukidnon) and a closely-knit TRI community. One of the upcoming races in NM is ROX Mapawa Trail Run, which is one of the long-standing races since 2011. Kindly share with us your experience in ROX MAPAWA Trail Run? I joined the MTR 21k last year and just missed out on a podium spot by placing fourth. The course was breathtaking, literally and figuratively, with long steep hills, fresh air and beautiful scenery. Needless to say, I had a blast! The organizers, led by Dr. Riyadh Balbontin, have pulled out all the stops for this year’s event to ensure every participant’s safety and enjoyment. They have a new route so it will be a new challenge even to those who have done it before. The participants and their families and friends can also enjoy various activities in the Mapawa Adventure Park like horseback riding, trekking, ziplining, camping and many more. You’re also known in the off-road triathlon scene. And, you’ve been racing in off-road / trail events around Philippines, and the world. Can you share to us what is something that is unique in CDO or Northern Mindanao off-road/trail events like MAPAWA Trail Run? Yes I love off-road Triathlon but I have not raced much the past two years because of my injury, the uneven and hilly terrain is too much for my foot. Hopefully, I can join some races next year as I try to get healthy in the off-season The off-road/trail events in Bukidnon/CDO or Northern Mindanao in general are unique because the routes are complete with what the participants are looking for: long steep uphills, single tracks, beautiful scenery, among others. The events are also well organized by locals. More importantly, Northern Mindanao is very safe place so peace and order is not a problem at all contrary to what other people think as conveyed in the news. The The negative incidents seen and read in the news are confined in tiny, remote and isolated places so the rest of Mindanao is pared from it. For you, what’s the difference between training for a road triathlon and off-road triathlon? Any tips particularly for the upcoming MAPAWA Trail Run or any trail events? On-road and off-road triathlons are two very different disciplines but equally grueling and very fun. On-road triathlons can be much longer in terms of distance and allows you to be on “cruise control” on the bike and run. It also requires athlete to control and have as even an effort as possible. Most races do not allow drafting on the bike. While off-road triathlon requires skills both handling the mountain bike as well as running in technical sections of the course. It also requires concentration, quick judgment and coordination to navigate the technical sections of the bike and run courses, otherwise you will be kissing the soil, rocks and what have you. And to the most important question, can you share with us your bike set-up? MTB: Specialized S-Works Stumpjumper HT 29er (w/ SID Brain fork) frame (small) Shimano XTR 3×10 groupset (yes still triple chainring! haven’t raced in almost 2 years) 3T handlebar and stem Ergon grips ISM Adamo Peak saddle Stan’s ZTR Crest wheelset Maxxis Crossmark tires Shimano XTR pedals Road: Specialized S-Works Venge frame (small) Inertia Racing Technology (iRT) 50T wheelset Specialized bar tape Continental Gatorskin tires Shimano Ultegra 6700 groupset (50/36) 3T dropbar and stem ISM Adamo TT saddle Look Keo 2 Max TT: Specialized S-Works Shiv module (small) — 53/39 Specialized Sitero saddle Specialized bar tape Inertia Racing Technology (iRT) 85T front & tubular disc rear wheelset Specialized S-Works Trivent shoes Specialized S-Works Evade Aero Helmet Shimano Ultegra 6700 groupset Continental Gatorskin tires Look Keo 2 Max Garmin Edge 510 cycle computer for all three.