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Romeo “Oreo” Puncia finishes Ironman African Championship against all odds to fulfill mission for Palawan tribes

Photo: Romeo Puncia

Filipino Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and triathlete Romeo “Oreo” Puncia finished the Ironman African Championship race on April 7 (April 8 in Manila) despite overwhelming challenges, just so he can accomplish what he came for – to race with a purpose.

Oreo Puncia, the first Filipino male to cross the Ultraman Florida finish line in February to support of Palawan tribes in the Philippines, was still healing from the Florida race and had barely a month to train for the challenging Ironman African Championship rounds held in Nelson Mandela Bay where two triathletes lost their lives – but he overcame exhaustion, a broken bike, torturous waves, and steep hills to complete the tough race.

Good News Pilipinas talked to Puncia in an online interview about what the Ironman race meant to him and what is next for the Filipino Missionary Athlete.

“I still did the Ironman African Championship because I realized I am racing with a purpose. Somehow I had a great performance and still had a strong finish,” shared Puncia who finished at 949th place overall among 1,671 racers.

The swimming competition was shortened due to the waves and rough water, which caused Puncia to vomit after the swim. The bike course was windy and hilly and was tough on the triathlete who had a short training program – and he even encountered mechanical bike problems in the midst of the race which cost him 15 minutes before he was able to go back to the track of the Ironman African Championship.

Asked by Good News Pilipinas how Filipinos can help in his advocacy of Race With a Purpose, the Abu Dhabi-based Missionary Athlete had these to say:

“Panawagan ko ay Continue to be a blessing to everyone. Di mo naman kailangan maging no.1 or pinakamagaling to make an influence at makatulong sa maraming tao. Ang talent at skills na meron ka ay pede mo magamit para makatulong. (I call on people to continue to be a blessing to everyone. You don’t need to be No. 1 and the best to influence and help many people. The talent and skills you have can be used to help.)

Photo: Romeo Puncia

You can help by being a volunteer sa mission work, donate basic needs, or financial support para magkaroon ang mga katutubo ng mga clothes, school supplies, shoes, medicine, and many more.”

Oreo Puncia is scheduled to again Race With a Purpose on these dates:

  1. Ironman European Championships on June 2019 in Frankfurt, Germany.
  2. Ironman 70.3 Xiamen, November 2019 in Xiamen, China.
  3. UAE Local Triathlon Races.

Puncia has actually qualified for the 2019 Ultraman World Championship but has opted to join next year. He says he is also hoping to qualify again in Ironman 70.3 World Championship (2020).

In the meantime, his charity work Tribal Mission Trip in Palawan continues:

  1. May 6-10, 2019
  2. October 2019


Photo: Romeo Puncia


Romeo “Oreo Puncia’s Race With a Purpose has attracted organizations who are supporting him to improve his performances and further his advocacies. He has sponsors and racing partnerships with Absolute Black, Zone3, Lay Low Apparel, Newton Running Shoes, Citizen, Vitargo, 3T, Twin Cycle Gear and Apparel, to name a few.

Puncia’s advocacy, which in 2018 was given a citation in the Dakilang Bayani Awards and a Special Recognition in the 2018 Pride of Abu Dhabi Awards, has also received the attention of the ongoing “My Better Starts Now” citizen advocacy which has named him a finalist.

Send your congratulations and cheers to Romeo “Oreo” Puncia, world class Filipino triathlete who is on a Race With a Purpose!

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Angie Quadra-Balibay
Angie Quadra-Balibay
Angie is a self-confessed reformed news critic who vows she has finally found infinite value in delivering the good news. She teaches students of all ages how to make the important interesting for audiences across media platforms.

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