Ormoc City’s TLBF

Last Thursday, I wrote about Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal, who recently retired after a seven-year stint with the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Goyo, as he is known to all, is now focused on another mission: Biking.

In 2002, he launched the Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival (TLBF). In honor of his late father, Terry, the TLBF is a weekend-long party of cyclists and mountain-bikers that has become the biggest yearly gathering for pedal-pushers. “We’ve brought the festival back to where it started and where it belongs,” said Goyo, on the TLBF to be held in Ormoc City. “The 2011 TLBF will be more ‘homegrown.’ I just retired, so we wanted make it more ‘local.’”

While Atty. Larrazabal was the youngest commissioner of the Comelec, he had to be based in Manila. And so, for 2009, the TLBF was held in nearby Subic. Not this year. What makes this the country’s biggest? “Normally, events happen within a day and after, everyone goes home. Having 100 to 200 participants makes the event already big (in Mindanao, you might have 500+ participants for a MTB XC event). For the 2009 TLBF, there were about 1,200 competitors,” said Goyo.

“For a regular event, they might have one to three races. The TLBF in 2009 had about 14 races and 10 side events. The TLBF is one of the very few events where cyclists from all parts of the Philippines come to attend. And in 2009, we had participants from 14 countries (excluding the Philippines). The 2006 festival appeared in about a dozen international magazines (US, South America, Asia and Europe). This year, we have 20 radio stations running our radio ads nationwide. We’re also the first cycling event outside the U.S. included in the Dirt Rag Magazine World Tour.”

The TLBF will be held this Thursday to Sunday (March 31 to April 3). In the official website, www.tlbf.org, you will see the list of activities. For bikers, there are numerous races: Cross-country, single speed cross-country, 29er cross country, Downhill, Time Trial, Criterium and, the most fun, a “Beer Run” where, “after completing a pre-determined cross-country course, participants must finish drinking five bottles of beer, before being declared as winner.”

The TLBF is not all biking. Included are the following diverse sporting competitions: Ultimate Frisbee, softball, boxing, shoot-fest (Level 2 PPSA), and a national Football invitational. Plus, as Ormoc is known world-wide for this most delicious fruit, there’s the Pineapple Trail Run. “It will be the most unique off-road marathon in the Philippines,” explains Goyo. “Imagine running through and across a pineapple plantation, with pineapples on both sides and cowboys on their horses as marshals!”

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