Over 800 athletes, including 22 professionals, make up the early roster in the 2017 Century Tuna Ironman 70.3, which fires off next month in Subic Bay.
Organizers expect the international field to hit over 1,000, when the third staging of the premier swim-bike-run event is held on March 12.
The inaugural run drew 902 participants, while 823 competitors took part in last year's edition of the event.
Craig Alexander of Australia and Swiss Caroline Steffen will return to defend their title, but the duo are in for a tough challenge as other competitors are out to foil their bids for back-to-back crowns.
Among the contenders are: inaugural champion Tim Reed, Sam Betten, Jason Hall and Dan Wilson of Australia, South African Johan Stofberg, Till Schramm of Germany and Eric Watson of Bahrain.
The CT Ironman 70.3 caps a three-day weekend that includes a 2GO Bike Service and Expo on March 10, and the Alaska Ironkids and Century Tuna Superbods: The Underpants Run on March 11.
Great Britain, the US and Australia are fielding in 23, 22 and 20 entries, respectively. Singapore has 16, Guam 14, Japan 12, Germany 11, while Switzerland has 10, guaranteeing a spirited battle for top honors in various age-group divisions.
Other countries participating are Argentina, American Samoa, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Spain, France, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Monaco, Mexico, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Thailand, Uruguay and Vietnam.
Aside from the centerpiece pro and Asian Elite, other titles to be disputed are the 18-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69 and the 70-and-above age categories.
Also on tap is the relay competition featuring the mixed and the all male and all female classes, according to the organizing SEI.
The 1.9-kilometer swim will start and end at the Acea Beach in Subic Bay with the 90-km bike course also to fire off at the Acea Subic Bay to the Floridablanca interchange via Tipo Tollgate and back.
The 21-km run will start at the Subic Bay Convention Center (SBECC) and transit the SBMA en route to the turnaround at Acea Beach with the finish line at SBECC. (ABS-CBN News)