How Star Triathlete Ines Santiago Turned Her Setbacks Into Strength 

How Star Triathlete Ines Santiago Turned Her Setbacks Into Strength 


Meet the Filipina triathlete who turned her rough days into a remarkable test of endurance, determination, and self-discovery

This is an excerpt from MEGA’s August 2023 Fitness story.

Star Triathlete Ines Santiago
BodyMorph top by JUDE MACASINAG and Cycling pants and shoes by H&M

In a world that constantly demands more from us, there are few individuals who rise above the chaos and uncover a path to personal transformation. Ines Santiago is one of those few individuals. 

It was a fateful day in 2013 when Santiago decided that enough was enough. Burdened by stress and grappling with a personal struggle, she made a life-altering choice. “I was a little bit stressed and was going through something, so I decided on that day that I needed to step out of the house,” Santiago recounts. 

Santiago can’t exactly describe what happened, but after that day, something changed in her. “So at that time, I didn’t have any experience or anything,” she says. “I just had, like, your usual trainers and pambahay lang. I decided to try to just walk or jog. So I did that for like five to ten minutes outside, and then I felt really good about it. So I said, ‘Okay, I’ll do this again tomorrow.’” 

Her short run-walks turned into long jogs, then eventually, she tried swimming and biking. By 2014, Santiago joined her first-ever triathlon, a standard distance race. In the same year, she also participated in three longer races.

Star Triathlete Ines Santiago
Track jacket and shoes by H&M and BodyMorph dress by JUDE MACASINAG

Now, Santiago boasts an impressive collection of titles, including being crowned the Overall Women’s Champion at the 2023 IM (Iron Man) 70.3 Philippines in Subic Bay and the IM 70.3 Cebu in 2022. 

Additionally, she holds the Reyna Bulakna Award for Fastest Filipina for three consecutive years at the IM 70.3 Cebu and the distinction of being the Fastest Filipina at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii in 2022. As an Ironman All-World Athlete, she proudly holds the top spot in the country rankings and enjoys the coveted gold status. 

But despite all her achievements, Santiago carries no air of arrogance and keeps her feet on the ground. She arrives at the studio for our exclusive shoot, radiating humility and confidence. Cradled in her arms is her faithful companion—her bike, the very instrument that has propelled her to unimaginable heights.

Star Triathlete Ines Santiago
Sports bra, cycling pants, and shoes by H&M and Black wrap skirt by ANTONINA


While Santiago excels in swimming, biking, and running, the 42-year-old triathlete confesses that it is cycling that poses the greatest challenge for her. 

“There are risks, but I’m also very careful, especially with biking,” she confides. “When I train, I don’t really train on the roads because I’m very particular about safety. And I’m aware that if you’re on the road, there are more elements that are beyond your control. It’s the most dangerous and difficult part of triathlons for me.”

Participating in a triathlon is an arduous endeavor, and Santiago has faced her fair share of setbacks along the way. She recalls an injury she sustained while preparing for the full Ironman in 2018, which prevented her from training properly for the marathon leg of the event. As she battled through exhaustion and pain during the race, thoughts of giving up crept into her mind.

“So I was already expecting that when I hit maybe the half part of the run, I would already be suffering not so much from the injury but from lack of training,” Santiago tells MEGA. “And when you’re there, the goal is really just to get to the finish line.”

However, a powerful reminder kept her going: “The sooner I finish the race, the sooner I’ll get better.”

Read more about how Santiago defies her own limitations with every stroke, pedal, and stride in MEGA’s August 2023 issue, now available on Readly, Magzter, Press Reader and Zinio.

Creative Direction JONES PALTENG


Beauty Direction MIA CASTRO




Sittings Editor BAM ABELLON

Special thanks to AD ASTRA STUDIO

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