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CEBU, Philippines - About 500 participants including reigning back-to-back champion Ben Allen of Australia and 30 of the world's top professionals converge in beautiful Liloan, Cebu when the 2014 Vaseline Men Xterra Off-Road Triathlon Series unfolds today.

Allen is out to retain the crown he won in the first two stagings of this annual race considered as the world’s premier off-road race that covers a gruelling 1.5 kilometer of swimming in the pristine waters of Liloan, 35 kms of mountain biking and 9.2 kms of trail running in the rough terrains of the quaint city.

“It will be our third year to host this event and we’re excited to be given a chance to host it again this year,” said Vaseline Men brand manager Jonathan Pua in yesterday’s pre-race briefing.

Aside from Allen and the pros, participants are vying for cash prizes, honors and spots in the World Championships in Maui, Hawaii.

The race will have another category aside from the Xterra Full since organizers have decided to hold a race in the Xterra Lite, a shorter course of 500-meter swim, 15.5-km mountain bike and 5-km run.

Attention though is expected to focus on the seemingly invincible Allen, who have also won the Xterra World Tour in Saipan, Guam and New Zealand last year aside from his back-to-back victories here.

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Out to spoil the Allen party and his bid for a rare three-peat feat are South African Dan Hugo, Aussie Dimitry Duke, Guam’s Charlie Epperson, Malaysian Sharom Abndullah, and Guam’s Bradley Weiss.

Swiss Renata Buchers, who finished second in the last edition, Great Britian’s Jacqui Slack and Daz Parker, last year’s third placer, are the fancied to dispute the women's crown along with Saipan’s Mieko Carey.

The event is sponsored by Vaseline Men, The Philippine STAR, LBC Solutions, ABS-CBN, Air Asia, Aqua Sphere, Coca-Cola FEMSA Phl, David’s Salon, Devant, Department of Tourism, Intercare, Prudential Guarantee, R.O.X., Salomon, Shotz, Smart, Timex, Titay’s and the municipality of Liloan.— Philippine STAR News Service

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