Emergency medical technician and triathlete Romeo “Oreo” Puncia III has conquered Ultraman Florida to become the first United Arab Emirates resident and first Filipino male to complete the 3-day endurance race in his first attempt – all for his #RACEwithaPURPOSE campaign to support Palawan tribes. The first Filipino woman to successfully finish the Ultraman Florida race on her second attempt was Shangrila Rendon.
The 32-year-old Puncia finished 33rd against veteran triathletes and completed the course in 33 hours and 50 seconds – a feat for the EMT who only started to join triathlons in 2016.
The Abu Dhabi-based Puncia went through the 3 stages of what is known as one of the most gruelling races in the world, with Day 1 consisting of a 6.2 mile swim and 92 mile bike, Day 2 with a 171 mile bike, and Day 3 with a 52.4 mile run. The race covers a total distance of 321.6 miles (517.5km), around central Florida.
In his Facebook video Puncia recalled how he started his triathlon journeys at zero – not knowing how to swim. The Filipino triathlete revealed how he wanted to finish strong at the Ultraman race even though it was his first time to run more than 50 kilometers. On top of that he had to endure racing with an early Day 1 injury from a bicycle crash.
“But you know what, I’ve realized everyone can do it…and just focus lang naman and just believe in yourself,” Puncia said.
“I am proud to be a Filipino and as a resident of the UAE,” Puncia declared as he also revealed he is setting his sights on the Ultraman World Championship.
The triathlete known as “Oreo” races in different parts of the world for the Katribo Charities which he founded as an advocacy so he can help the tribal communities of Palawan to have food, education, sports, medical supplies, training programs with the partnership of the tribal missionaries and leaders of the tribal communities.
Through #RACEwithaPURPOSE Romeo also wants to create awareness among the sports and other communities that “we can use our talent and skills to make a difference in other people’s lives.”
Oreo’s next races:
- Ironman African Championship, April 7
- Ironman European Championship, June 30
- Ultraman World Championship in Hawaii, November
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