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Podcast #5: Ben Allen & Jacqui Slack

This special edition of Kikay Runner on the Go features an exclusive interview with professional triathletes Ben Allen and Jacqui Slack, who are in town to compete at the inaugural Bataan Triathlon.

As Bi3 looms ever nearer, it’s really time to get your head in the game. If it’s your first time to participate in a triathlon, or your first time on those infamous hills of Bataan, Ben and Jacqui have some great tips for how to stay safe on the technical descents and enjoy this race.


Also available on iTunes.

Pardon the audio quality of the interview proper; I messed up the microphone settings. I tried my best to run it through some filters so you can still hear what Jacqui and Ben have to say.

Podcast interview
Thanks to Sabak for the interview space and the coffee!

Show Notes

  • What they’ve been up to the past few months
  • Why they love to come to the Philippines to race
  • Where they’ve gone and what they’ve done in Manila
  • Why they’ve come to race the Bataan Triathlon
  • Tips for handling the technical bike course in Bataan
  • Tips for first-time triathletes

About Ben Allen

Ben Allen is a world-class Professional Triathlete with over a decade of racing experience. He specialises in the non-drafting format from 70.3 Ironman, Long Distance and the Xterra World Off-Road Triathlon Tour. Ben is based in Wollongong, Australia and from April through to October he joins the World’s Elite Endurance Athletes in Europe, basing himself in France. His official website is

Ben would like to thank: ON Running, Giant Bicycles, XTERRA Wetsuits, Flight Centre Active Travel, Sponser Sports Nutrition, Champion Systems, Lurbel Precision Garments, Ryders Eyewear, Alaska Milk, Greeper Laces, Ekoi, Schnell Carbon Wheels

About Jacqui Slack

Jacqui Slack is a full time professional elite athlete, training and competing against the best triathletes around the world. She has raced the British Triathlon Super Series, French Grand Prix, ITU European & World Cups, ITU World Series events, and is now focused on the Xterra World Tour. Her official website is

Jacqui would like to thank: ON Running, Giant Bicycles – Liv, XTERRA Wetsuits, Amanzi Swimwear, Flight Centre Active Travel, Powerbar, Champion Systems, Lurbel Precision Garments, Ryders Eyewear, Alaska Milk, Athlete Matters Sports Physiotherapists, Schwalbe, Scicon Technical Bags

Ben Allen & Jacqui Slack
Ben & Jacqui

Blog Seen & Noticed

Activewear from Fashion Brands

I haven’t been shopping in a long while, but last weekend while doing some Christmas shopping I stumbled upon some fashion brands that have come out with some great-looking activewear. In a previous post I mentioned that athletic wear was featured in this year’s New York Fashion Week, and it’s great to see that trickle down into some of the international brands that are present here in the Philippines.

For the last few years Forever 21’s activewear section is one of my go-to’s for yoga and dance wear. Many of these are multi-purpose activewear separates, so you can use them for almost every sport or workout.

not shown: a whole rack in pink

Old Navy is more known for its denims and comfy casual wear, so I was surprised when I found some great activewear. They also have some promos happening, such as price reductions when you buy two pieces or more.

great color palette this season

With H&M recently opening a three-floor store, there was bound to be something along the lines of workout wear. What I found there made my fashionista heart beat faster: shorts, skirts, tights, sleeveless and sleeved tops, bras, thermal innerwear and outerwear. They even have yoga mats!

for whatever kind of athlete you are

The selections are reasonably priced so if you’re a woman just starting out an active lifestyle, these are pretty fashionable all-around gear. Men, you’ll also find gear for you at these stores, although the selection isn’t as wide as the women’s are.

I did notice a lot of the tops are made with cottony fabrics, which won’t lend themselves too well to repetitive motions such as running (chafing galore!), though there are also options made with tech fabric. It’s important to find breathable, sweat-wicking fabrics that fit properly to avoid chafing and discomfort, whichever store you buy your running gear at.

It’s always great to have options, and I’ve already bought some yoga pants and dance tops from Old Navy. For my running gear though, I will still go for performance gear provided by sport-specific brands such as Mizuno.

And of course, the above fashion brands still don’t have proper sports footwear. ;)

Blog FYI

The Importance of “Yes”

A Life Without Limits - Chrissie Wellington

Yesterday I found myself inside a bookstore to pick up a copy of Chrissie Wellington’s autobiography A Life Without Limits. I had already borrowed the book from a friend last year, but having my own copy is invaluable because I can go back to some of its nuggets of wisdom. The one I was thinking about in particular was this passage:

My only policy throughout has been to keep an open mind and, whatever I may do, give it my all…the limits that I thought I could see in the distance dissolved as I approached them. They turned out not to be real at all, but mere assumptions. And that has been the most exciting revelation of all.

When I first started running, I never thought about competing, but ran for its health benefits. Then when presented with an opportunity to race, I took it and found I enjoyed the races as well as striving to be better. Everything else that followed after was a result of saying “yes” to opportunities that presented themselves. Yes to doing my first marathon on my birthday, which led to qualifying for the Milo Marathon finals that year (it’s our own version of the Boston Marathon!). Yes to doing my first triathlon, which a few years later led to me completing an ironman this year — at one of the world’s best races, no less!

But what was the first step? It was answering “yes” to challenges that presented themselves, that ignited passion and excitement in me. I’m normally more closed-off. I’m not a world traveler, not adventurous (even in food! I always order the same things in restaurants I’ve been to), not spontaneous…

Happy Camper
doing my best Chrissie Wellington impression

I took an improv acting workshop many years ago, and one of our exercises was “Yes, And”. Two actors begin a conversation. One of them starts with a scenario, and the other agrees and builds onto that scenario. It goes like this:

Actor 1: How was your trip to Africa? Did you see any lions?
Actor 2: Yes! One of them even came all the way up to our truck.
Actor 1: I heard it scratched the door.
Actor 2: That was my door. I’m so glad it wasn’t an open-bed truck, otherwise we would have been like a bucket of KFC Chicken. Nom nom nom!

You’re not allowed to deny anything the other actor says, and you have to build on it. This has the opportunity to build into a great story, and all built on improv! One of the reasons I sucked at this exercise was I tended to say, “No, not really” instead of agreeing with my partner in the exercise.

As I re-read Chrissie’s book I see in myself many of her traits: the desire to excel, a need for approval, the tendency to become a control freak. Someone recently asked me, “Why do you hold onto so much, and hold yourself to so much? It is your biggest limiter and also your biggest asset.” I said it’s because I ask a lot from myself, and I usually get it. It’s great when it fuels me to get the best performance out of myself in a race, for instance. It’s awful when I get down on myself for things that haven’t even happened, doubting myself, resulting in questions like “what if I’m not fast enough or strong enough?” It’s something I am trying, with increasing success, to overcome.

Because of sport I’ve been “Yes, And”-ing things in my life, and it’s opened up so many new experiences, I’ve met great new friends, and been so many more places than I ever thought possible. And there’s so much more to do and see and grow into becoming. It’s not just an external journey, but more importantly it’s also an internal one. I do feel my world and my perspective has grown from all this. I’ve grown not just as an athlete, but also as a person.

I don’t want to say that I can become a world champion just like Chrissie Wellington (she’s a freak of nature!), but I do know that I am on my way to becoming the best I can be at whatever I decide to do. And I know you can do that, too. Anyone can.

But it all starts with a “yes.”

Blog Race Info

Gran Fondo Bicolandia on December 14

I have been sick, busy, or otherwise faffing around so I haven’t taken my Ceepo bike Aki out on a really, really long ride. And besides, I’m done with ironman training for the next few years so you won’t find me on a 200-kilometer ride any time soon. But this bike is made for long-course, so every time I end one of my rides in Nuvali I can practically hear the bike asking for more, more…

You can understand why my ears perked up on hearing about the Gran Fondo Bicolandia happening on December 14, 2014. It begins in Naga City and passes through the municipalities of Sagnay and Tiwi, the city of Tabaco, and ends in Legazpi City for a total of 120 kilometers!

Gran Fondo Bicolandia on December 14, 2014
Gran Fondo Bicolandia on December 14, 2014

This is a gran fondo, which isn’t a formal race but is more of an organized group ride with rest and feed stops. It’s a great way to get miles in as well as see the country on two wheels! The fondo is open to road, tri, and mountain bikes. Hooray for Aki!

Entry is priced at Read more »

Blog Reviews

Kikay Reviews: e-Gel Electrolyte Energy Gel

After using certain energy gels for long-distance races, I’ve become wary of them due to the unintended bathroom consequences. :( Over time my gut has become intolerant of these former favorites, and I’ve gone so far as to avoid using them even in shorter events just because I don’t like my stomach roiling when I’m trying to enjoy post-race festivities.

When admin Carlos de Guzman (no relation :P) sent me a box of e-Gels to try, I told him I would do so in training, since I’ve been desperately trying any kind of nutrition to see what could work for me in my upcoming races next year. I’d rather not have to chew bananas while running…

e-Gel by Crank Sports

e-Gel is low in simple sugars, made of high-grade maltodextrin, and is gluten-free. According to its literature, being low in sugar means it doesn’t spike blood sugar which can lead to a crash or bonk, and the maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate that releases energy more evenly into the bloodstream. And with many people now becoming aware of gluten sensitivity, being gluten-free means a lower risk of irritating the gut.

e-Gel also sets itself apart from other energy gels by promising not just calorie replenishment, but also balanced electrolyte replacement. It has more than five times the sodium and twice as much potassium as other energy gels. This means that if participating in long events where electrolyte imbalance is imminent, you only need to carry e-Gels and drink water, instead of also having to carry an electrolyte replacement solution or tablet.

This is particularly important for me because I don’t seem to absorb sports drinks properly anymore (the drinks that contain a combination of calories and electrolytes). Instead I have to source my calories from solid food, and dissolve electrolyte tablets into plain water. While this has worked out for me in triathlons where I have bottle cages for water and the bike bento box to hold my electrolyte tablets and food bars, when I get on the run I have no time or inclination to carry a water bottle around to dissolve my electrolytes into.

I was able to use the e-Gels on two training runs; the first one quite hesitantly and only one gel packet. Then I spent the next few hours waiting for a call of nature, which never happened. So I was ecstatic about that! The next time I used the e-Gels was on a long run, and I took one before the run, and one halfway through. Again I waited for a gut reaction, but it never came.

So I finally used the e-Gel in a race, the New Balance Power Run. While with my previous gels I’d grown accustomed to the big hit of energy that follows after taking a gel, and then the need to forestall the crash by taking another gel, with e-Gel the energy was very constant and sustained. Because it has a more liquid consistency, I was also able to swallow it quite easily with a few sips of water at the stations. And I’m happy to report that I never got a hint of a cramp even while running at some of my fastest speeds over that distance.

Now I’m out of that sample box of e-Gels, but I can just as easily order more e-Gels from the Online Shop. An e-Gel is P95/piece, which is about P10 more expensive than my former gel brand, but each e-Gel packet contains 50% more calories than the old brand; per 100 calories, e-Gels are more economical.

Check out these nifty comparisons (prices in USD$):
e-Gel vs. Gu
e-Gel vs. EFS Shot

Race-day nutrition is a tricky subject and everyone is unique. But it really is quite important to get the hang of so you can reach your full potential. I’m still fine-tuning my own race-day nutrition, which may be different in open running vs. triathlons. But I’m glad I have the e-Gel option now. :)

e-Gel is available from the Online Shop, all Secondwind Running Stores, The Brick Multisport Store McKinley Hill, and All-Terra Cyclery stores in Ortigas Home Depot and Robinsons Galleria. Like their Facebook Page E Gel Philippines to get the latest news and updates.

Online Triathlon Coaching - MaccaX
Online Triathlon Coaching - MaccaX

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