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When August Met Anna

by Monching Romano —

He is the 2-time Cobra Ironman 70.3 and the back-to-back Challenge Philippines Filipino-Elite Champion. She is a German on a sabbatical. And they met in paradise. Well, paradise for us triathletes. The two crossed paths at the Thanyapura Phuket Triathlon Academy in Thailand. August Benedicto was there for his elite training and Anna Stroh was making the most of her planned break from work by training as well. If you think the Champ is fast on the race course, our exclusive interview with the couple showed that he has some pretty fast moves as well in other departments.

RaceDay: When did you meet?

August: Nung unang camp ko sa Thailand, 2013, December 20 until January … so ngayon syempre isang buwan na ko don, wala naman ako girlfriend dito sa Pilipinas, batong-bato ka eh. Syempre wala kang makausap. Si Monica (Torres) nandudoon, dalawa lang kami. Ngayon dumating ‘to, siguro mga one week pa lang, di ko pinapansin. Di nya rin ako pinapansin kasi serious daw ako. (Gazes at Ana) Serious, right? Because you are scared of me?

Anna: No! You are scared of me.

August: I’m scared because I don’t like to talk in English. Sabi ko, kausapin ko kaya to? Mauubusan na naman ako ng English, sasakit ulo ko, hihina ako sa training …

Tapos, malapit na Valentine’s. Inimbita ko sya, sabi ko [when] we go back [in the] afternoon [for a] swim, do you want to [ride with me on the motorbike]?

Anna: I was very surprised he asked me. Because he never talked to me before.

August: Nilakasan ko na loob ko. … nag-alanganin ako eh, ibang country eh maubusan ako ng English. Sabi ko, “I’m sorry I know a little bit of English. I’m shy eh (chuckles) that’s why I can’t talk to you too much. Because my English is little bit. Just in the pocket only.” Parang ganun ba, pang maliit lang na pocket. “Hello!”, “What’s your name?” Only like that eh.

Ininvite ko sya ng hapon kasi may training kami, eh dadaanan ko yung bahay nya naka motor ako.

Anna: Because usually I bike there, and then he said you can go with me on the motorbike going to the swim. After the swim, there was a group of people, Monica was there and two other Thai athletes. And then August said we would go and have dinner with them. I said, OK I’ll join you. When we went to the place no one was there …

August: It’s not my idea!

Anna: And it was like that right?

August: It was the idea of Monica and Rey.

Anna: And I thought, very strange. Where is everyone?

August: And then nothing.

Anna: I didn’t even know it was meant to be a date (chuckles).

August: And then, everyday I pick her up

Anna: And he said he will help me adjust the bike. This was also your (August’s) trick.

August: No! Kasi nakita ko yung bike nya, sabi ko, gusto mo i-fit kita?

Anna: He said to me, the bike is not good for you.

August: In the morning you tried it and it was good right?

Anna: Yeah, he [fitted] it very well.

August: And then, everyday … Filipino Style with flowers and chocolates.

RD: So what did you see in August?

Anna: Like I said, I never realized that it was meant to be a date … because I saw him and he was always with the elite group. And I was surprised when he started talking to me and asking me to go with him on a motorbike. After a couple of days I realized that he likes me. He wouldn’t say anything but I thought probably he likes me (laughs). And he was really sweet all the time, and I don’t know.

The first time I came here was March last year, and I really saw how August grew up and the way he lives, his background—he’s a fighter. I really admired the way he develops as an athlete and all the work he puts into it. The passion. It’s really very impressive.

August: And then you got sick

Anna: Yeah, after Cebu I got dengue, and I was really sick in the hospital …

August: … almost died

Anna: … and August really take good care of me.

August: Binantayan ko yan sa hospital halos mamatay-matay na.

Anna: He slept on a small bench in the hospital in Olongapo.

RD: So, is August sweet?

Anna: Yeah, he’s very sweet … sometimes (laughs) if he wants to.

RD: Is there anything that you don’t like about him?

Anna: No. Actually I can’t think of anything. He has a lot of patience with me, and you know sometimes I’m not easy to … (laughs)

August: I’m very happy now, because she’s very sweet also, but sometimes very hard … (laughs). Parang kwan lang yan eh, minsan matamis, minsan maasim, pag nagsama na eh mas masarap naman. Di ba parang mangga na di pwedeng matamis lang na matamis kasi baka masuya ka. Kailangan katamtaman lang, di sobrang maasim at di sobrang matamis.

Natutuwa rin ako na binigay ni Lord na makilala ko sya. Ngayon may tumutulong na sa akin sa schedule ko, sa coach ko [nagko-coordinate], so di na ko nag-iisip. Ang iisipin ko na lang mag-training ako ng mag-training. Lalo pa akong lumalakas dahil na-inspire din ako sa kanya. Nainspire din ako sa kanya kasi may tumutulong sa akin … nagpapaalala sa akin na mali ang sasabihin mo, ganito mas ok, nagpapaliwanag sa akin. Saka mas magaling na ako mag-English ngayon.

RD: Wait. You met in Thailand by the end of January then by Valentine’s you already said yes to him? How did he ask?

Anna: Actually, when he said to me that on Valentine’s Day we have a date, I though he was joking because, you know, like when I said I didn’t realize it was a date when he asked me after the swim to have dinner. And then remember this one (addressing August), we do the long bike ride on Sunday, and then in front of everyone you said this will be my date for Valentine’s Day. I thought he was joking because he was always joking with everyone (chuckles).

August: But I did it.

RD: So, how did he ask you?

Anna: It was not very clear in the beginning but he started talking like, as a triathlete it’s not easy to have a relationship because it’s always training blah blah blah, and then he was pointing to this like, you’re a triathlete and I’m a triathlete so maybe (laughs) …

August: Parang ganun. Parehas tayong triathlete, pwede tayong magkasama nyan. Walang mag-aayos ng bike mo. Walang maglilinis ng bike mo. Oh, di ako! Training schedule ko di ikaw magsasabi sa akin. Ganun lang. She said, OK, let’s see and try.

Anna: Also it was not clear what would happen after he went back to the Philippines. I was not sure. I was still based in China at that time, I just went to Thailand for I think about one month. And then … I got this opportunity to work in Thailand—I quit my job previously because I wanted to take time off—so I decided to move there, and it was not really clear what would happen between us.

RaceDay: What do you do back home?

Anna: Um … back home, I mean back home is now here (Philippines).


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