Team Philippines Wins The IRONMAN VR Team Challenge Asia Pacific

Congrats, Team Philippines!

The Philippine triathlon community celebrated when the team of Ines Santiago, Coach Ani de Leon-Brown, Ian Banzon, Chloe Jane Ong, Ronald Molit, Don Velasco, and Jael Wenceslao won the recently concluded, IRONMAN VR Team Challenge.

The best part? They did this all for charity. Donating their $5,000 prize money to the NVC Foundation.

We had a brief chat with Team Captain Ines Santiago to get a further glimpse of how the team was formed and more importantly, how the race was won.

It all started with a message from one of the big cheese of Philippine triathlon, let’s just call her “P”. :) In her, message to Ines, she mentioned that should Ines accept the challenge, she will be tasked to pick her teammates (no pros allowed!). The winning team will then receive USD5,000 from the IRONMAN Foundation into the team’s own charity page on the IMF site, 2nd and 3rd group will receive USD1,000.

To add, social media will play a big part as well as teams will be tasked with impromptu challenges (such as a dance-off), which is one of the reasons why she chose women to do the bike part. “Who else can maintain composure, do the race live, be ready for a mini challenge, and still hit the watts?” said Ines in an fb post.

  • How does the IRONMAN VR Team Challenge format work?

1 distance per week. Originally a triathlon that got changed to a duathlon format. (Bike-run) I had to do all disciplines of the Sprint, Olympic and 70.3. Team members are to do 1 of the disciplines. Scoring was through a point system with the following components: – Athletic (combined time of team captain and team members) – Social Media – In-broadcast Challenge

Points will be accumulated across the 3 weeks through athletic, social media and in-broadcast special challenges.

  • How was the team formed and who chose the members?

Since the challenge entailed not just an athletic component, it was ideal that team members were not only strong and fast but also had social media presence and influence. I had a little over a week to form the team and it helped to choose those I could easily approach and who I knew would be willing to give it their all without hesitation.

  • What was the game plan coming in?

Give it our all. That was the game plan.

  • At what point did u know you guys had the win in the bag?

To be honest, I really didn’t know up to the time that they showed the score board.

  • Why did you choose the NVC foundation?

I’ve always believed in NVC’s vision and I’ve seen how sustainable and well-monitored their programs are. Their Mingo Feeding Program not only feeds and monitors undernourished children but it also provides livelihood to local farmers. As triathletes, we say that nutrition is the 4th discipline of triathlon. We understand how this impacts our performance. It is even more crucial for children in their developmental years. Poor nutrition in childhood affects brain development and this has an irreversible effect that posts a lot of future consequences on society. Food is a basic human right and there are still so many Filipinos with limited or no access to this.


Apart from the IMVR Team Challenge winnings, Ines is also trying to raise $2000 for the Mingo Feeding Program of the NVC Foundation.

In case you want to donate, click the link below!

(featured image via : Ines Santiago / Fritzie Labastida)



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A triathlete making a comeback and a true blue Scorpio. That sums it up quite nicely :)

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