Trying to be No.1 at Tri, that’s Noy Jopson

I’ve dribbled a basketball, putted on a golf course, swam 25-meter laps, flicked my wrist in badminton, ran 10-Ks along Osmeña Blvd., swung volleys in tennis and mountain-biked to Tops, but the one sport that I have yet to try is…. Tri.

Yes, tri. As in, three. Triathlon is it’s full name and, if one speaks of one of the most backbreaking of endeavors—think of the Ironman and it’s 3.8-km. swim, 180-K bike, and 42-km. run—then you’ve got to try… Tri.

Here in Cebu, when “triathlon” is muttered, one name above all enters my mind: Noy Jopson.

I’ve known Noy for many years now. His wife, Amale (Mendezona), is one of my wife’s closest friends from high school at STC. Noy and I have swapped DVDs and books on Lance Armstrong; exchanged stories about training regimens and, yes, one night over San Mig Light and together with Atty. Jingo Quijano, debated whether Manny Pacquiao should fight Oscar de la Hoya (“No!”).

Noy is also one of the most humble people that you can encounter; and though he’s lean and slim—inside that body is an engine faster than any Mini-Cooper.

Consider this: For the longest time, Noy held the RP record for the Olympic triathlon distance (since 1997), clocking 2:01:04 (though this was recently broken by Arland Macasieb). He has dozens of records, among them: Noy was a seven-time RP Team member from 1992-98, 2002; a silver medalist at the ‘94 Asian Championships; the RP champion from 1995-96, 1998; and, in ‘98, became the highest-ranked Filipino triathlete (120th) in the world.

Via email, I interviewed Noy about this Saturday’s event. Here’s our Q & A….

What event are you joining? The Whiterock Long Distance Triathlon in Subic, Zambales, is the premier long distance event in the Philippines. Dubbed as “The Rock,” it is now on its 4th year and comprises a 2k swim, 90k bike and 20k run. (For more info, check out

How long have you trained? I’ve been training for the Whiterock Tri for 10wks. But I’ve been in pretty good shape all summer, I won my age group at Subic Nationals, Olympic Distance Triathlon (1.5kSwim-40kBike-10kRun) last May so I know my form is good, I just had to increase the mileage and total training time to prepare for this long event.

What are your expectations? My goal is to swim 32 mins for the 2k, Bike 2:22 and maintain 38kph on the 90k non-drafting course, then finish it off with a 1:30 Run for the 20k. Total, including transitions, would be 4:40 which is about 10mins off the course record set by Aussie Bevan Leach last year—but would still be about 15mins faster than the best time of any Pinoy. If I hit my target, whether I get 1st or 3rd, I’d be satisfied.

How has your training been? It’s been solid. I’ve been averaging 6k swimming, 280k cycling and 45k running per week. Most of it with good intensity… I don’t have a lot of junk miles.

What were the last events that you joined? The last big event was the Kia Ironlegs Cycling race in Bohol last July 20—it was only 56k from Tagbilaran to the Chocolate Hills but we did some spectacular climbs thru Loboc and the man-made forest. I won that race and am probably in the best cycling shape of my life. Then, just for fun, I did the Osmeña 10K Run and won the exec division in 37:52. I was flying… haven’t ran that fast since I turned 30!

Who are your strongest competitors? SEA Games Silver Medallist George Villog, Bronze Medallist Arland Macasieb (who now holds the Olympic record I held since ‘97). I don’t think last year’s international 1st and 2nd placers are joining.

What’s your motto? “Lets all dream big and do great things!”

And, Noy adds, “The dream for me now is to join a real Ironman event in two years (the two I’ve done so far, Matabungkay 2002 and Enduraman 2003, were unofficial ones).”

Noy… good luck!

Categorized as Triathlon
John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

1 comment

  1. John, how are you? Do you remember me from gs? How about an article on my friend and current coach Arland Macasieb. Do you know him? He seems to know your name for some reason and he is mentioned in your article “Trying to be No.1 at Tri, that’s Noy Jopson.” He is a world class athlete and definitely one of the Filipino favorites to win the first full Ironman in the Philippines. He will be competing there this August. He is very active in the Tri community here in the States and even more so on the Filipino Tri community. He is responsible for organizing the FilAm Tri, of which I am a proud member. He has been my tri coach for a month now and has been helping me fine tune all three disciplines. We will both be honored to see him on your site. I am an avid fan and love reading your articles.

    Raffy Kilayko
    New York, NY

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