Tim Van Berkel (left), from Australia, and Anna Eberhardt (centre) from Hungary join a media meet after the Ironman 70.3 Vietnam 2017 race (Photo: VNA)

Da Nang (VNA) - Tim Van Berkel of Australia and Anna Eberhardt of Hungary won the men’s and women’s professional titles at the Ironman 70.3 Vietnam 2017 contest in central Da Nang city on May 7.

In the biggest triathlon of the year, Van Berkel, who ranked second in the race last year, clocked three hours 56.19 minutes to win the men’s race, while Eberhardt won the women’s title with a time of 4hrs 34min 56sec.

“I was very excited for the race today. I did not get a good start with the swimming, but was the best in cycling and running. The heat and high humidity became a stiff challenge during the last four kilometres,” Van Berkel told the press after the race.

“I think I will come back for the race next year.”

Racing for the first time in Da Nang, Alexander Polizzi of Australia expressed pleasant surprise.

“It was a really hot day. But the track was very nice, clean and green. The race was organised with good security.” Alexander said.

The winner of the women’s race, Eberhardt also had to overcome the hot weather to maintain her lead.

She said it was the first time she was joining the race in Vietnam, and Da Nang was a good venue for the Ironman 70.3 Vietnam race.

Ivan Kalashnikov, who came second in the men’s division, said he was really tired in the last 5km, but received good support from volunteers. He said local hospitality helped him complete the race.

New Zealand’s Mike Phillips finished third in the men’s race with a time of 4hrs 2min 14sec, ahead of Brad Williams of the US (4hrs 7min 40sec).

Dimity Lee Duke of Australia, last year’s third place finisher, finished second in the women’s division with a tine 4hr 37min 3sec, beating Laura Wood of New Zealand, and Sarah Lester of Australia.

The third edition of the race marked Da Nang as a favourite rendezvous for global triathletes. More than than 1,300 athletes from 59 countries and territories including 19 professionals and 100 relay teams participated in the race.

Vietnam had the highest number of participants at 390 athletes.

This year’s race involved a 1.9km ocean swim, a 90km bike race and a 21km run along the most beautiful coastline in the city’s Son Tra peninsula.

Alongside the Ironman 70.3 Vietnam, the race’s organiser, the Sunrise Events Company, hosted two events – IronKids and Sprint – to promote triathlons among the younger generations and locals. This involves a 750m open-water swim, 20km bike and a 5km run.

On May 6, the Ironkids race was organised for kids aged 6 to 14, with an aquathlon including swimming and running.

Athletes also joined the second Newborns Vietnam run-out from the Hyatt Regency Spa & resort to Da Nang’s Pediatrics and Obstetrics Hospital in order to raise awareness for the work of Newborns Vietnam, a Da Nang-based charity focused on reducing infant mortality in Vietnam.

According to the organisers, the Ironman Vietnam race has helped raise more than 50,000 USD to support Newborns Vietnam.

Trinh Bang, general director of the Sunrise Events Company, said the Ironman 70.3 Vietnam expects to generate 10 million USD from sport tourism this year.

The Ironman 70.3 Vietnam will serve as a qualifying race for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Chanttanooga, Tennessee, the US, with 30 qualifying slots available.

There are two slots exclusively available for the top Vietnamese male and female athletes, organisers said.

Ironman 70.3 Vietnam was held in Da Nang in 2015 and 2016 with the participation of more than 1,000 athletes and their families each year.

The central city also agreed to host the event from 2018-22.

Vietnam is the 30th country in the world and the eighth Asia-Pacific country to host an Ironman triathlon.-VNA