Category Archives: Ironman 70.3 Cebu

Ironman swim

Two Augusts ago, I joined the individual category of the Cobra Ironman 70.3 race. In years past, I joined the relay: pedaling the Vellum bike in 2012 and running in 2014. But in 2015, I decided to do the full event: a 1.9K swim, a 90K bike and 21K run.

I have been running and biking all my life. I’m a land-based creature. The swim? I know the freestyle stroke but I’m no fish; it took me months to get comfortable. On our open-water sessions in Mactan, I got jittery.

August 2, 2015. It was race morning and we warmed-up. When I dove into the Shangri-La waters at 7 a.m. and emerged one hour and 8 minutes later, it was one of the most challenging 68 minutes of my life. Of the swim’s 1,900 meters, there was a harrowing stretch of 850 meters where the current was so strong. By the end of the swim leg, the organizers had to extend the cutoff time (supposed to be 1:10) by more than 20 minutes. If not, hundreds would not have continued. And despite the extended time, 120 were cutoff.

Betsy Medalla, a top swim coach based in Manila who also organizes long-distance open-sea races, wrote an excellent post-event analysis. The cause of the unusual current was the “spring tide.”

“On August 2, (2015) today, in Cebu, the tidal range was OVER FIVE FEET.  Think of that as a five foot wave of water coming into shore, spread out over six hours,” wrote Betsy in her blog, justaddwaterph.blogspot.com.

That was two years ago. Will it be another “spring tide” this weekend? When I met Brian Lim during the Bike Out last Sunday, he mentioned about the very strong current when they did an open-sea swim on Saturday. It was similar to 2015, he said. This was the same comment of Andre Borromeo, who swam for two kms. and found the Mactan waters tough with high waves.

So, what’s the forecast?

“August 6 (this Sunday) is NOT a spring tide date,” wrote Betsy yesterday in her blog post. “The next spring tide in Cebu is on August 9. So the conditions will definitely not be as bad as 2015, but we are close enough to make things interesting.”

Based on her study, the projected change in tide is 3.2 feet and the fastest surge will be between 5:30 to 7:30 a.m.

“In 2015, the tide change was roughly five feet,” Betsy said. “This year, we are expecting a much smaller volume of water moving in our direction. However, this is the Hilutungan channel and as I mentioned in the 2015 post, currents and tides are amplified when forced through a tighter space. So expect the 850m stretch of the course to be challenging. Hope you did your paddles and pullbuoy work early in the training program.

“As far as timing of the tide shift goes, in 2015 the racers who left in the last few batches suffered worst. This year, it is one for all! Yeay! We are starting and swimming in the thick of it. In fact, the force of it will be ebbing by 7:30am so .. I don’t know if you want to use that information to your advantage.”

Betsy, who was the first Asian (with Julian Valencia) to complete the Robben Island Channel crossing, swimming for 8.6 kms., is concerned with the stormy weather (in Luzon) the past week.

“The habagat and monsoon winds have been whipped up by two successive storms and all of that built up energy may carry into the end of the week,” she said. “It looks to be a windy, gusty weekend and that may lead to surface chop, and possibly swells.”

Coach Betsy offers these suggestions: Focus on your STREAMLINE. Reduce drag as much as possible and that includes: 1) Keeping your hips up; 2) Don’t pull with a straight arm; 3) Don’t lift your head up to breathe, keep it low; 4) Maintain your momentum.

Visit justaddwaterph.blogpost.com.

Ironman 70.3 Bike Out

Early this morning at six, a few hundred cyclists will pedal from the Mactan Newtown to join the annual “ocular inspection” of the Cobra Ironman 70.3 bike route.

It’s called the Bike Out. From Lapu-Lapu City, the cyclists will climb Marcelo Fernan Bridge, pass through Mandaue, glide along SM City, descend down the Tunnel, emerge towards the SRP, gaze at the SM Seaside City, then sprint towards Talisay City before making a few of the same loops. In the end, the bikers will return to Mactan Newtown.

With the IM70.3 race, reports came out the other day saying that Talisay City was excluding itself from the bike route. This is not true. Ever since the Half-Ironman race started in Cebu in 2012, Talisay has been an important and cooperative piece of the program. To back out now, just days before Cebu’s biggest sporting event, is irresponsible.

Talisay Mayor Eddie Gullas is a sportsman. He was a topnotch basketball star, coach, owner of the UV Green Lancers success story, and we played tennis for many years. He loves sports just as much as public service. I’m sure he will not be an obstructionist.

People also speculate: Will this year be the last? I’m sure it won’t. The Cebu IM70.3 event is too successful to be discontinued. The grandeur of Shangri-La. The thousands cheering along the route. The support of Mayor Paz Radaza and Gov. Junjun Davide. The shaded route for the 21K run in Punta Engaño. The open-sea swim in Mactan. Kenneth Cobonpue’s iconic medals. And even the roots of Fred Uytengsu, Jr., who was born in Cebu, are all symbolic in ensuring that “Cebu” and “Ironman” will be intertwined for a long, long time.

What I’m also sure won’t happen here? A full Ironman. While Subic will organize the country’s first IM on June 3, 2018, I’m sure the linked cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu and Talisay will not host the same. Why? The road closure. For an event that includes a 3.8K swim, a 180K bike and a 42K run, it will mean closing the roads the entire day.

Ironman 70.3? Yes. Full Ironman in Cebu? No.

Wilfred Steven Uytengsu, Jr.

As hundreds gather today from 2 to 5 p.m. at the North Wing of SM City Cebu, the highest honor will be bestowed upon a Cebu-born businessman who has helped popularize sports in our sports-hungry nation. To name a few of his brands and events:

Alaska Aces, the PBA’s 14-time champions. XTERRA Off-road triathlon. Ironman 70.3 races in Vietnam, Thailand, Subic and Mactan. The 5150 events in Bohol and Subic. The Alaska Ironkids. The Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA Philippines (basketball) and the Alaska Football Cup.

Fred Uytengsu — the recipient of the “Sportsman of the Year” award — has brought these contests to our shores. Apart from being President and CEO of Alaska Milk Corp., he also heads a company that has a direct impact on Cebu sports.

Sunrise Events, Inc. is the outfit that has introduced the Ironman and XTERRA brands to the Phils. And for the past five years, including last year’s Asia-Pacific Championships, the triathlon world’s attention has been spotlighted on Cebu.

Born in Cebu in 1961, he went on to obain a Business Administration (Entrepreneurship) degree from the University of Souther California. While in college, he was captain of the USC men’s swimming team. At the same time, he represented the Philippines as national team member and competed in the 1981 SEA Games.

In 1986, he was tasked by his father, Wilfred Uytengsu, Sr., to organize a PBA team. In the storied 31-year history of the Alaska PBA squad, from the Milkmen to the Air Force to the Aces, they have accumulated 14 titles.

Busy with his corporate responsibilities chairing boad meetings and wearing a suit all-day in the Alaska Milk Corp. boardroom, he longed to continue this athletic pursuits.

Enter triathlon. Already a world-class swimmer, he added running and cycling to his daily exercise regimen and, in his triathlon career that has spanned a couple of decades, he has finished the Wimbledon of triathlons: the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Mr. Uytengsu completed the 3.8-km. swim, 180-km. bike, and 42-km. run event called the Ironman two times, recording a personal best of 12.5 hours in 2011.

More on triathlon: This August marks the sixth year that Cebu will be hosting the Cobra Ironman 70.3 race — considering by participants, including the world’s elite, as one of the most fun and most organized.

To Fred Uytengsu — who has uplifted Philippine sports, in particular helping put the brand “Cebu” in the world triathlon map — congratulations, Sportsman of the Year. Daghang salamat.

Mr. Uytengsu with Ica Maximo, one of the honorees of the 35th Cebu Sports Awards

Dr. iRONman Eullaran

He does not possess the lean physique of an Antonio San Juan nor has he finished the New York City Marathon and numerous other 42-K races like Vicente Verallo. But what this fellow doctor of Tony and Vic possesses, like the two, is a determination and willpower that cannot be bought or taught in Med School.

Dr. Ronald Navaja Eullaran joined the Cobra Ironman 70.3 race. I call him “Partner” because, together with Dr. Ronnie Medalle, we are the best of friends. Two Sundays ago, we left our homes at Ma. Luisa at 4 a.m. and did a convoy towards Shangri-La.

Our journey towards swimming 1.9 kms., biking 90-K and running a half-marathon began 12 months ago. After we joined the IM70.3 relay event (with Rap Sios-e as swimmer, Ron as biker and myself as runner), we vowed to join again in 2015; this time, as individual participants.

Ron and I trained. We’d bike the hills of Ma. Luisa. Often, we’d swim in Casino Español on early evenings. Ron has no problems biking. (It was him, many years back during one of our Rotary Club of Cebu West meetings, who invited me to go mountain-biking.) So, of the three sports, biking was his strength. Last year, given only a few weeks’ notice since we registered late, he finished the 90K distance in 3:40.

Running? This was a concern. Swimming? An even bigger concern.

With running, he was convinced by his wife, my childhood friend Raycia Patuasi Eullaran — a many-time half-marathoner and a 42K finisher of the Cebu Marathon — to join the Sunday fun runs. From 5K to 10K to 21K, he ran. Never mind if his time was not the fastest (3 hours, 10+ minutes for the 21K), he endured the leg pains — all for the bigger goal to be an Ironman.

His two main challenges were his workload and his body weight. Working all day and night, often past 9 p.m., he didn’t have extra time to train, not even on Saturdays. Worse, because he loved to eat (who doesn’t?), despite the increasing hours that he spent on exercising, he wasn’t losing 10 or 20 lbs. like the other triathletes. Undeterred, he pressed on.

With the swim, although he came from Gen. Santos City and grew up near the sea and swam often as a child, he wasn’t a fast swimmer. In the numerous occasions when we swam — often at the Costabella Tropical Beach Resort — though he was unafraid to swim in deep waters and swam steady, his only problem was he was a slow swimmer.

For the Ironman 70.3 race, this posed a problem. There was a cutoff time of 70 minutes. No matter how well-trained you are for the bike, you won’t be allowed to mount your Cervelo if you exceed the time limit.

Ron was deeply concerned with missing the swim cutoff. The Thursday before the race, we practiced in Shangri-La together with Melbourne Ironman Meyrick Jacalan and Jojo Veloso and while the three of us had long finished, he was still on the water, toiling hard with his freestyle.

But mental strength can often work wonders. As one saying goes, “The river cuts through rock not because of its power but its persistence.”

Ron, like a rock, is persistent. He showed this last May when we joined the 8080 race in Sogod. Having slept a total of one hour (he was called at midnight to rush to Chong Hua Hospital and attend to a patient), he could have called me early morning to say he won’t join. He joined. He finished last in the swim (taking over an hour to complete 1.8-K) and, as darkness fell and everybody else was having dinner and drinking San Mig Light, he arrived as the last finisher. Downtrodden? Not Ron, never. All-smiling and accompanied by his two legs named grit and tenacity, he crossed the finish to thunderous applause as Steve and Maricel Maniquis and Quinito Moras of the Cornerstone Group ignited the fireworks. Amazing determination to complete 80.8 kms. (1.8K swim, 65K bike and 14K run) — despite an hour of sleep.

But that was just the preliminary bout because the main event happened last Aug. 2. With the swim, given the current, I thought my best friend would be cutoff. But, I saw him on the bike. I knew he was a good cyclist but I was worried with his running. With the sun so hot, he’d be cooked. But, ever the fighter like his fellow GenSan native Pacquiao, Ron ran. With doggedness, he crossed the finish line and a medal was hung on his shoulders, finishing 10 minutes before the cutoff to become the country’s only “Ironman Rheumatologist.” Fitting because his name is embedded with the celebrated word: I-Ron-man.

Biking and running the Cobra IM70.3 race

I peed on my shorts while standing in the middle of the transition area. I wasn’t inside the restroom or Portalet – I stood public beside my bike, all-needing to unload that liquid off my bladder and it was the fastest way to pee. Yes, it’s one of those crazy, no-choice, I-have-to-go moments doing this crazy, our-choice, let’s-go sport of triathlon.

While swimming the harrowing 1.9-km. leg of the Cobra Ironman 70.3 race the other Sunday, I felt like peeing. But, given the effort and the challenges while swimming, nothing would come out. And so, bahala na, I did it beside the bike. (Good thing I still had the sense to do it before putting on my cycling shoes! Ha-ha.) No wonder, together with eating a banana and Cloud 9 chocolates, I took over nine minutes for this transition phase.

Off the bike we sped. Passing through the Mactan Newtown Megaworld complex, we headed out towards the airport road. If you’re a long-time fan of this sport that involves pedalling and crouching low and embracing the wind, you’ll love the bike portion of the Half-Ironman. No cars, no tricycles criss-crossing the road; the asphalted and cemented roads are all yours for the morning. In no other time of the year other than the first Sunday of August can you experience this.

Climbing the Marcelo Fernan Bridge is a highlight. It’s not a difficult ascent; it’s gradual and it offers a view of the channel and the cities of Mandaue and Cebu that you can’t find anywhere else.

My complaint was this: While heading down the bridge, all the bikers are crammed in one lane of one side of the road. Unlike the previous time I joined the bike (three years ago, during the 2012 edition), the entire side was closed for the cyclists. While manuevering down, a portion of the buntings that helped cordon the road was blown away; it cut further the road space and made it scary when the elite cyclists started heading back at the opposite direction.

Plaridel St. in Mandaue City, that stretch of a few hundred meters that was littered with potholes, wasn’t too bad. They cleared the newly-cemented portion and let us traverse there. Good move. And I’m sure this portion will be fully-cemented in 2016.

Passing the SRP Tunnel while pedalling on two thin wheels is an unforgettable experience that only those who participated can explain. As you enter, the bright sunlight from outside turns dark. Screams from eager triathletes echo and bounce off the walls. It’s both eerie and exhilarating. And it passes quickly; after one kilometer, you’re out, back to sunbathe.

The South Road Properties (SRP) segment is enjoyable. Again, completely no-vehicles, no spectators running. (The scary moments are when kids shout for you to throw your empty water bottles and they run in the middle of the road to grab them.)

The route was “M” shaped, meaning it’s twice an out-and-back loop (towards the tip of Talisay and back to Parkmall, twice); it meant that heading towards Talisay City, you’d experience headwinds but coming back, you’d be easy-pedaling because of the wind pushing you from behind.

To me, my two prayers to the Lord were not to crash and not to get into mechanical trouble. Though most participants brought along inner tubes and bike pumps, a flat busted tire can often mean the end of your adventure. I biked easy and relaxed. Knowing that there still loomed a 21-K run after 90 kms. of biking, I knew I had to reserve energy. Upon reaching T2 (Transition 2, bike-to-run), you’re all thankful to God for keeping you safe.

After changing footwear to running shoes, you’re off unaided by the bike. And the question starts: What happened to the rain? Forecasts declared a 60 percent chance of rain. Instead, the sun melted the gray clouds and exposed itself to bake the runners. It was a hot, good-for-sunbathing day. Unlike most Fun Runs that start at 5 a.m., at the IM70.3 event, you’re starting mid-day. I started around 12 noon. Can you imagine, after that swim and bike, running a half-marathon from 12 to 3 p.m.?

Luckily for the runners, there was plenty of shade found along Punta Engano, starting from Shangri-La down to Be Resort, until you reach the end. The challenge arrives when you enter Amisa and Discovery Bay and are forced to run naked, with no tree cover. The run is two loops. After you conquer these scorching hot portions and head back to Shangri-La, you’ve got to do it again. It’s a physical and mental Mt. Everest. All this time, you drink Gatorade and bathe yourself in ice and water.

By the end of the first loop, I was cramping; I walked, slow-jogged, strolled. Around Km. 15 and after consuming multiple GU energy gels, I felt like vomiting with the thought of swallowing another Gu gel. (Since I had lost my watch during the swim, I repeatedly had to resort to asking the spectators for the time.) I needed to take something refreshing. What? I thought.

Coke! Ha-ha. I love this drink and I know it would re-energize me. Forgetting to bring money, I had to plead from a store owner to loan me a Coke. It certainly helped because moments later, I felt better and was able to take the Gu. This, I know, is true: Coke adds life.

Finally, starting at 7 a.m. and finishing at nearly 3 p.m., I crossed the finish line fully exhausted, near-dizzy but enveloped with that indescribable sense of fulfillment that can only be felt by those who suffered the same.

Surviving the Ironman 70.3 Swim

Of the three disciplines in this multi-sport craze that has positively afflicted our nation and the sporting world — I’m referring, of course, to triathlon — to me, the most difficult is the swim.

Biking and running, I’ve always enjoyed. I grew up pedalling BMW bikes with my brother Charlie in Bacolod City. Running, thanks to those elementary days dribbling the basketball in La Salle, is easy and natural. We are land-based creatures and cycling and jogging are not performed at sea. The swim? Unlike others who grew up on water, my comfort level when wearing goggles and moving forward horizontally is bad. In my two previous triathlon events (the “8080” races organized by Steve Maniquis and the Cornerstone Group), the stress levels just thinking of the swim were “high tide.”

I joined the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 race last Sunday. How was the swim?Brutal. Scary. Difficult. Physically and mentally exhausting.

I positioned myself among the very last triathletes to do the swim. Since the new ruling was no longer based on your age grouping but on your “expected split times,” I didn’t want to get swum over by faster swimmers. I stayed at the back and chatted with Atty. Jess Garcia.

As I stepped on the timing mat before entering the water, I checked my watch. It read “7:00.” Good, I told myself. It will be easier for me to check the cutoff time of one hour 10 minutes. That would be at 8:10 a.m.

The first 100 meters was a straight path. I swam relaxed. Having warmed-up properly, I deliberately swam slow. “Relax, relax, relax” were the words my mind uttered to itself. Surprisingly, the start was easy. Wow. If it will continue like this, it will be a good day. At the end of the initial start, we all turned left. This time, it was a 400-meter stretch. (The entire swim is 1.9 kms.) Even better, the current was behind us and many swam in long and smooth strokes. Yes! Upon reaching the giant yellow buoy, we turned to deeper waters for another 50 meters.

After that short path, we turned right. This stretch, the longest in the rectangular-shaped route, was 850 meters. This was when the torture started.

You’re swimming free-style, punching one arm after another into the Hilutungan Channel, trying to move forward — but you’re barely moving. You exert more effort; slow-motion, fatiguing, arduous. Worse, you’re not swimming in a wide ocean that’s free of obstacles. In front of you are fellow strugglers. To your left is someone doing a wide-open breast-stroke. To your right is another swimmer. Behind you is someone pulling your leg.All this time, you’re surrounded by bubbles and splashes and waves and kicks.

The key word is “relax” but how can you when you’re struggling and barely moving forward?I was hit in the face where my goggles got dislodged. Once — not to the same swimmer and it was accidental — I elbowed hard a participant’s nose. That hurt. I wanted to apologize but he just kept on going.

Many times, I held the buoy just to keep afloat. Five seconds later and having taken a few deep breaths, you’re off again. This isn’t an all-day-I-can-relax Sunday. There’s a time limit and the current was too strong.

My improvised strategy was to breakdown the long stretch into short segments. Big red buoys would be recognizable (in between were the smaller yellow ones). “Just swim to the red buoy!” would be my mantra.Midway through the route, I saw Tinago Brgy. Captain Joel Garganera. We both complained. But there was no choice: either you go or quit.

Slowly, meter-by-meter, red buoy after yellow buoy and swimming like a cha-cha dance where you’d move forward then backward then forward, we charged on. Towards the end of the 850-meter stretch, just when we were yards away from the big yellow marker, people were shouting. A jetski and several boats circled the area. Waves grew taller and the current was at its worst. We were told to cross to the other side. I had to shout to a boat marshal so I could hang-on for a few seconds.

After crossing, I checked my watch. It read “8:02.” Oh no! I was dangerously close to being cutoff. With the current behind our backs, we torpedoed as hard as we could. It was the final few hundred meters. Luckily, as I reached the shore, I made it in1:08. The sad part was: I lost my watch. While going all-out in this final stretch, it must have been hit by a fellow swimmer or just fell off my wrist. And this was the inaugural (2012) Timex commemorative edition given by Princess G. Anyway, after surviving the swim, I trudged on.

A FEW THOUGHTS…

BE PROUD. To all who braved the waters last Sunday, finisher or not, kudos to you! Everybody concludes that, in the seven-year history of IM70.3 Philippines (three in CamSur and four in Cebu), that was the toughest swim leg.

DISTANCE. I did a quick survey with some friends on the swim distance and a few recorded a distance of 2.2 kms. Jonel Borromeo’s Garmin recorded that length. A friend told me his was 2.5K. It might have been the back-and-forth due to the strong current; I’m not sure if the rope/buoys got carried farther because of the current.

STAGGERED SWIM START. I think this is favorable to the participants. The idea that you can swim alongside your coach or spouse (as many did), or at least swim with those of the same ability — that’s good. I believe this is better than a “mass start” (the same one as the previous years).

As explained in the excellent blog by Betsy Medalla (justaddwaterph.blogspot.com), the problem was that majority of the swimmers swam that 850-stretch around 7:30 a.m. onwards. We swam during the worst possible two hours of the month of August. As we say in Bisaya, “Malas lang gyud” (just plain unlucky).

Given the low/high tide information, the only thing the organizers could have done differently was to reverse the sequence. The slowest swimmers swim first! The elite triathletes swim last — and they’ll endure the current.Ha ha. This would have provided us (slower ones) with calm waters at the start. Obviously, this is a preposterous idea. Not possible. But there’s nothing much the organizers could have done, except….

TIME EXTENSION. Good that the organisers extended the time. Can you imagine if they did not? Hundreds and hundreds would have been cutoff — you can easily check it by scanning through the finishing times in the website. Some exceeded1:30 or 1:40. Because this 70-minute (timing chip) cutoff time ruling was disregarded, this favored those who swam earlier. They had extra time (head start) compared to those who started at the back..

(QUESTION: Why only 70 mins. cutoff for the swim? And a generous 4:30+ for the bike? There should be more “allowance” for the swim…)

NEXT YEAR… For the August 7, 2016 race (Asia-Pacific Championships), I checked the tide chart and it looks to be very favorable.

Next year: Low tide of 0.3 meters is at 7:09 a.m. (right smack when the majority of the swimmers are in the water). High tide at 1.6 meters is still at 1:26 p.m. This compares to last Sunday when the low tide was an early 5:32 a.m. This one hour 37-minute gap should be very favorable to us. Hopefully (barring other weather factors such as typhoon, etc.), the Mactan waters next year should be kinder..

Conclusion: In 2016, perfect conditions to Tri’ again!

70.3 miles

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The biggest sporting event in Cebu is happening next weekend. Over two thousand athletes will swim, pedal and run when the fourth edition of the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 race starts at 6:27 a.m. on August 2, 2015. In all, this is the seventh time that Sunrise Events, Inc. has brought the IM 70.3 race to the Philippines.

The first three years were held in Camarines Sur (or CamSur). After the venue had become too small to accommodate hundreds more who wanted to join, the event traveled south and landed in the Queen City of the South. That’s Cebu.

The swim will start the event on the white sand beach front of Shangri-La Resort in Mactan. After the 1.9 kilometer free-style strokes, the triathletes mount their bikes at the Megaworld-owned property beside Shangri-La. They exit the Mactan Newtown (Megaworld) mega-project then bike towards the Marcelo Fernan Bridge. While up there, the view of the waters down below and the Busay mountains straight ahead will be terrific.

The cycling portion is 90 kilometers in distance. It will require the participants to enter the South Road Properties (SRP) Tunnel and will lead them all the way to Talisay City. An “M” loop will ensue, bringing back the cyclists to the Parkmall U-turn area before going back to Talisay. After that second loop, it’s back to the Mactan Bridge then back to Shangri-La. That’s not all.

After hours of swimming and biking, it’s on the asphalted pavement of Punta Engaño for the final stage: a half-marathon. That’s 21,000 meters of running, walking, pouring cold water over one’s overheated body. Until finally, finally, the finish at Shangri-La. To all the visitors and participants, enjoy Cebu and enjoy the race.

8080 Triathlon in San Remigio

Abby Ponce wrote in her Facebook page yesterday: “What better way to cap off my initial year as a triathlete than do it the 8080 way? San Rem 8080 was way better than the Bogo edition with closed roads, a very challenging tough swim course (all of us underestimated this – it was not shallow at all and was ‘bawd’ and my Garmin measured it at 2.35k!!) not to mention that killer 65k bike route. In the end, it was my background as a runner that saved the day for me. Congratulations Cornerstone, that was a well organized race, marshals who stayed with us to the end, townspeople who bathed us with water plus that nice loot bag (yey! bike cover!/two finishers shirts/vmv products/unbamboo medals-shhh lupig sunrise events).”

I agree with Abby. It was well-organized. Kudos to Steve and Maricel Maniquis, Quinito Moras, Joel Juarez, Mayor Mariano Martinez and the hundreds of volunteers and officials who helped organize last Saturday’s “8080 Triathlon” event in San Remigio.

The morning began with a prayer. It was the first year anniversary of Typhoon Yolanda that ravaged many areas, including San Rem.

The race proper? Roads were cleared for the cyclists. The pristine waters were rid of sea urchin. In every kilometer of the Run, there was a hydration station complete with Gatorade, Nips chocolates and medical personnel. The celebration? It started at 4 p.m. when live DJs played nonstop and bands strummed their guitars for the party. Food and San Mig Light overflowed.

Cornerstone Group, the organizers, promised an “easy swim.” And though the water wasn’t shallow, safety was paramount. Boats and bancas surrounded us. A rope with buoys lined the middle. Best of all — and I think this is a first in Philippine triathlon — a neon-colored string was embedded on the sea bottom. It was the perfect guide to follow — so you’ll swim a straight path. Well done, Niño Abarquez.

For me, joining my first full Tri’ race, the swim had always been scariest. Staying all the way back at the start to avoid the early commotion, I got stuck with plenty blocking the way. It was a “washing machine” and the first 10 minutes was a struggle. And the swim was 1.8 kms. far! Thankfully, the 200 or so traithletes spread out. Eventually, I relaxed and enjoyed the water.

The bike ride was bad and good. First, it was hot. This event could have been renamed “Sun” Rem because of the sun. We started the race at 12:30 p.m. and the sky was cloudless. My 8080 distance meant two loops of 32.5 kms. for a total of 65K. Unlike Cebu City’s flat roads, in San Remigio it was up-and-down rolling terrain. But what a sight to see long stretches of cemented road with no cars. (Though several accidents still happened in the bike portion.)

After endless minutes of pedaling, I entered the transition area with many participants already finished! Those joining “4040” (900-meter swim, 32.5K bike, and 7K run) were done. While they were relaxing, we still had to complete a 14K run.

I had cramps starting the first kilometer of the run. With hardly any practice of what they call “brick” (transition), I suffered leg pain after that swim-to-run transition. The cramps continued in the first 7K loop.

During the run, children lined-up the inner roads to high-five the runners. What’s different about this race is the schedule. Instead of starting early and finishing the run at noon, this time it’s inverted: you start at noon and end with the comfortable late-afternoon shade.

Dr. Ron Eullaran completed his first triathlon (4040) event. Same with Rhoanne Salimbangon, accompanied by her husband (and two-time IM70.3 finisher) Ken. Cebu City Councilor Mary Ann de los Santos completed the 8080, sprinting towards the end in applause. At the finish, after you cross that line, a bottle of water and a can of beer is handed to you. It’s time to drink and rejoice after the pain — especially for many of us first-timers who Tri’d our best.

Fittest Fifty

a2704b73b21defc73d1b5e621eb3c253_crop_north(Photo: AP Images)

How do you define a “fit person?” Is a skinny man weighing 135 lbs. who can run a 10K in 50 minutes fit? But what if he can’t bench press his body weight? How about, at the opposite end, a muscleman with biceps size 14” who can lift a Kia Pride but can’t finish a 15K Run?

What is fitness? Sports Illustrated, the leading sports magazine, came up with a criteria of four: speed, strength, agility and endurance.

This makes sense. The fittest person is the one who excels not in just one or two areas but in all four. Visiting the SI.com website, this is how they explain it: “Fitness. For the professional male athlete it is the very foundation of success. But even among the pros, some athletes stand head and sculpted shoulders above the rest. The natural question, then: Who is the fittest male athlete in sports?”

For the first time since the SI magazine started in 1954, they have come up with the “Fittest 50.” With SI’s editors and writers as judges, they’ve used a 40-point scoring system to assess the world’s top sportsmen; each of the four categories has a scale of 0-10.

From SI, here are the criteria: STRENGTH: the pushing power of a lineman or the force of an ultimate fighter. SPEED: the top end of a sprinter or the burst of a running back. ENDURANCE: a runner’s bottomless reserve or a boxer’s ability to keep going in a bout. AGILITY: the balance of a downhill skier or a euro step at full.

So, among the planet’s 7.25 billion inhabitants, who is that one athlete who is the fittest? Drum roll, please…

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He’s Cavalier No. 23! Yup, in all four categories, SI scored LeBron James a perfect 10. His total is 40. Based on this analysis by their experts, he’s the only top-notch athlete to score a perfect mark. LBJ is strong and fast; he can endure a lengthy contest (except that cramps in Game 1, right?), plus his balance and agility are incomparable.

The second best: Christiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese scored 10 in three areas but only 8.5 in strength. Understandable because a footballer needs speed, endurance and agility — minus the bulging muscles which will slow him down. Ronaldo scores 38.5.

Third on the list is Usain Bolt. The fastest human being ever (his 100-meter WR is 9.58), he scores a 10 in speed (of course) but lower in strength (9), agility (8.5) and endurance (9). Bolt scores 36.5.

From fourth to 10th place are: Floyd Mayweather (score: 36), NFL’s Dez Bryant (35), NFL’s Calvin Johnson (34.5), NBA’s Serge Ibaka (34), NFL’s Adrian Peterson (33.5), Jon Jones of the UFC with 33, and at No. 10, the world’s most decorated swimmer, Michael Phelps (33).

If you run through the list of 50 athletes, many names are unfamiliar. That’s because many are American football players. Not including these NFL stars and others that are not too familiar, here are some recognizable names:

Blake Griffin, the LA Clippers slam-dunking Hulk, sits at No. 14. He totaled 30. A bit perplexing is how he scored only 8 in strength (he got 7 for speed and 7.5 for agility and endurance). Isn’t Griffin one of the league’s strongest?

Among the tennis players, only two made the list: Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Nadal is ranked 20 while Fed is 31. With Nadal, another head-scratching number: the man who can battle for five hours and five sets only scored 8 for endurance. Ha? Nadal’s total is 28.5. As to Roger, he got a lowly 5.5 for speed and his total is 26. But why no Novak Djokovic?

With the MMA fighters, only one other star is included apart from the 9th-ranked Jon Jones. He’s GSP or George St. Pierre. The Canadian is middle of the pack, No. 25, for a total of 27.5. He scores a high 9 for strength but a low 3.5 for speed.

Among the NBA players, the six total include Ray Allen (30), Nate Robinson (33) and Dwight Howard (36). Cyclist Chris Froome is 45 and marathoner Meb Keflezighi is 46.

Pinoy? Yes. Adjudged the 39th fittest with scores of 6.5 (speed and agility), 6 (endurance) and 5 (strength) for a total of 24 is the planet’s only eight-division world champ, MP.

Ironman motto: Know pain, know gain

553450_3500276948040_2120257648_n(All photos from triathlonwarrior.blogspot.com)

Question: Would you pay $325 to suffer nonstop for seven to eight hours? That’s what the triathletes did last Sunday.

Imagine swimming for 50 minutes the open-sea waters spanning 1.9 kms. Then, after maneuvering past the jellyfish and kicks of your fellow swimmers attempting to dislodge your goggles, you sprint towards your P254,000 carbon-fiber bicycle.

You pedal, amidst the sun that will cook your skin from 7:30 to 11 a.m., climbing the Fernan Bridge. You soon descend into darkness inside the abyss called the Tunnel, emerging to confront the buffering yet unseen crosswinds at the SRP — all of 90 kms., the distance from the Capitol to Bogo. Finally, returning back to where you started at the seaside property of Megaworld, you change from cleats to running shoes — and you stare at your watch: it’s 11 a.m.

Time for a half-marathon! Crazy? No. How about lunatic. At first, the run traverses along shaded portions of Punta Engaño. Good. But wait until you reach Amisa and the winding, open air subdivision where you have nowhere to hide for shade. You walk — but you really want to crawl. The tough part: the run isn’t a point-to-point, from A-to-B route. It’s two loops. Meaning, after circling one entire lap, it’s not over yet; you’ve got to do it all over again. And it’s past 1 p.m.!

This, to the non-Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 participant, is a snapshot of the suffering and difficulty of finishing all 113 kms. of last Sunday’s race. And you pay a fee of nearly P15,000 (in December for an event that’s in August) to willingly absorb this affliction.

Yet, thousands banded together in this modern-day version of hazing, all for the personal satisfaction of saying, Yes, I’ve done it!

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Plenty, prior to August 3, were obese and elephantine; many were sedentary and slothful. Not anymore. That potbelly evaporated into a six-pack. What a transformation; not only of the physical but of the entire mind-and-body.

Why? Because, said Bob Dylan, “Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.” Because, reads a famous saying, “Without pain, how could we know joy?” For what is life unless we pass through aches and burns and, after overcoming that, emerge to raise one’s arms up to God at the finish line?

The Ironman is about pain management. During training. Facing the sun. Running with cramps. Battling the wind. Fixing a flat tire. Crouching low on the bike for 220 back-breaking minutes. It’s Winston Churchill’s dictum that says, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

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It’s not about the eradication of pain — because that’s impossible, even for the Canadian named Brent McMahon who won in three hours and 59 minutes. It’s about absorbing the pain and transforming it into that unexplainable feeling of ecstasy that can only be described by one person: you yourself.

Nobody can define this “misery = jubilation” formula but the person who’s actually out there, fighting for his or her quest to cross that finish line.

It’s like Atty. Jess Garcia, minutes after crossing the finish line, telling me, “I’ll never do this again!” Yet, with his wife Leslie beside him, he said those words with an overjoyed tone.

You know who I applaud the most? The IronWomen. Yes, the ladies who braved the same distance of this event named after ‘Man. Comprising only 15 percent of all participants, now the women can claim and say, “We don’t only iron (clothes) well, we can also do the Ironman!” A thunderous clap for all finishers; but a standing ovation for all the lady participants.

The great Helen Keller, who couldn’t see or hear but became one of humankind’s most inspiring figures, once said: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

Cebu is the ideal stage for triathlon

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 9.43.58 AMSen. Pia with Team Jack Men

Hosting of the Ironman 70.3 race is supposed to rotate every three years. In 2009, this event featured over 500 triathletes in Camarines Sur. The race lasted for three years in Camsur. Next, with much shock and disappointment from then-Gov. LRay Villafluerte, the organizers moved it south, to Cebu. Now, our three years are up. After Luzon first hosted and, next, us representing the Visayas, will the 2015 edition move elsewhere, maybe in Mindanao (Davao, starting the swim in Samal Island?), to hop on all three Philippine regions?

Maybe. But I doubt it. I’m willing to bet my Vellum bike that Cebu will host again next August, and at least for two more Augusts after that.

First, Shangri-La. Is there a venue elsewhere that can provide a more shangrila-like experience than Shangri-La? None. Well, maybe Boracay, but where can you pedal for 90 kms. around Boracay?

The past three days — Friday to Sunday — we spent plentiful hours in Shangri-La (on Friday to get our race kits and carbo-load during the Welcome Dinner, on Saturday to do the bike check-in and attend the Race Briefing, and two days ago, for the actual race) and, repeatedly, friends would say, there’s no more ideal spot than Mactan. The beach and water are pristine; the added space of Megaworld, near Portofino, where the bikes were parked and where the Transition Area was situated — was ideal.

Second, the crowd support. I ran the 21K relay run and the thousands who cheered along Punta Engaño were tremendous. I’ve never ran with so many people cheering. This provides an immense boost to one’s weary legs. The same was true for the 90-km. bike ride: in many areas, fans stood side-by-side to shout, “Piolo!” and students clapped for the zooming cyclists.

The availability of dozens of hotels — this is a major plus. Our international airport. Mayor Paz Radaza’s assistance with the bleachers, the dancers during the Welcome Dinner, and more. The cooperation of the police, traffic, medical teams (led by Dr. Peter Mancao), of the Cebu Province (led by Atty. Mark Tolentino) … all contributed to a let’s-help-each-other, We’re-One Cebu united front.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 9.43.11 AMWith doctors Ron Eullaran and Peter Mancao

So, to yesterday’s headline, “Will Cebu host again?” Absolutely. Not that we’re irreplaceable but the set-up and organization and geography of Cebu will make it very, very, very difficult for Sunrise Events, Inc. to pullout of our province.

Still, Fred Uytengsu’s pronouncement of “Maybe… but it’s not sure yet” is good. It forms a leverage for the one problem that’s not difficult to solve: the bad roads. The stretch from Parkmall to the SRP Tunnel is the problem. And when you’re running 44-kph on a time-trial bike, you’d want a glossy pavement. This area is rough and awful. But can it be smoothened, in time for 12 months from now? Absolutely.

The race last Sunday? Ahh-mazing! It started last Saturday night when Kuya Kim (Atienza), who did the Weather Report during the Briefing, announced that weather conditions would be sunny. Afraid of the incoming typhoon, the Shangri-La Ballroom erupted into cheers.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 9.46.07 AMRace Briefing with 3D glasses: Ron, John, Jonel Borromeo and Dr. Tony San Juan

Sunday morning brought perfectly-clear skies. The sea water? Placid and serene. Compared to just a few days earlier when waves tormented Mactan, two mornings ago at 6:28 a.m. when the starting gun was fired, the water was tranquil. Triathletes couldn’t have asked for better swimming conditions.

At the 23rd minute, would you believe, the pros were out of the water after 1.9 kms. and sprinting towards their carbon bicycles. They’re jetskis made of human flesh. One by one, wetsuit after bikini after tri-suit, the thousands of fishes pulled out their goggles to turn amphibious and start their long pedaling journey towards the SRP.

Inspiring? That’s a mild form of description. You see females and males of all sizes, the young ones and the once young, all braving this crazy sport.

Within an hour or so, all bikers disappeared from Mactan, climbing the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, en route to the “M & M” route at the SRP, crossing  the Tunnel eight times.

Ironman Cebu: Four cities, three sports, three days left

imagesToday, registration opens for all participants of the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3. What’s 70.3? That’s the total distance of the race: 70.3 miles. The Sunday event is actually a “Half-Ironman” as the full Ironman is twice the measurement: 140.6 miles, translating to a 3.8K swim, a 180K bike ride and a 42K marathon.

Three days from now, the length is still daunting: that’s a 1.9-km. swim, a 90-km. pedal contest and a 21K run using tired legs.

Today, the doors of The Marquee in Shangri-La Mactan will open to welcome all triathletes. By day’s end, you’ll know who’s joining: they’ll be wearing colored bands on their wrists with the IM logo. They’ll have bragging rights while roaming our city streets, quietly proclaiming to all: I hope to cross that finish line this Sunday and be an “Ironman.”

This race is life-changing. People’s lives have been altered because of Aug. 3, 2014. The reason: as soon as one has registered, first-timer or not, one has to devote innumerable hours performing free-style strokes in the 25-meter pool, four-hour-long bike rides to Catmon or Carcar or Carmen, long-distance runs that start at 4:15 a.m.

Belly bulges have been trimmed. Buckets full of sweat have evaporated. Hundreds of thousands of pesos have been spent on Pinarello Dogma bikes. GU gels have been swallowed like soft candy.

All for good. For here’s the good news: I know plenty of 39- and 49-year-olds who’ve never been fitter in their whole lives than today. Amazing, right?

Jonel Borromeo, my high school best friend, comes to mind. Over 24 months ago, he weighed over 230 lbs. and could barely circle the track oval’s 400 meters. Now, he’s lost 80 lbs. of fat and he’s a hard-core triathlete who joined Gianluca Guidicelli’s three-day bike “suffer” fest in Bohol that spanned over 515 kms. When he trekked to the U.S. for a business trip, he was stopped by the U.S. immigration because his new face and body didn’t resemble his passport photo. He was interrogated for two hours!

That interrogation brought an earful and fulfilling grin to Jonel. Ha-ha, he must have screamed inside. This is what being fit looks like, he must have told himself fronting the mirror.

1619604_631142706939972_881171607_nJonel (center) with Joseph Miller and Tenggoy Colmenares

And so, even before the starting gun will fire at exactly 6:28 a.m. this Sunday, I congratulate everyone who’s joining, especially the first-timers. Your dedication has not only made you slimmer and fitter — but, as a whole, you’re more disciplined and goal-oriented.

As Meyrick Jacalan said, “Race day is the pay off. It’s over. Enjoy.” By that, Jacs means that all your months of suffering have culminated towards this weekend. It’s time to claim the prize.

As we applaud the participants, we also thank Sunrise Events, Inc., led by Fred Uytengsu, Jr., whose family roots come from Cebu, and the woman supervising the whole spectacle, the indefatigable superwoman Princess Galura.

Cebu, as a brand, is known worldwide in the triathlon hemisphere because of the IM70.3. Our visitors descending to Mactan will not only spend good Euros but will also spread the good word (hopefully) about our beautiful island. Sports tourism, it’s nicknamed.

This means that, to all those who’ll be inconvenienced three mornings from now, please bear with this annual party. Speaking of “annual,” it looks like, after three years, Cebu will continue hosting the IM. And why not? Camarines Sur was a terrific start, bringing hundreds of newbies. But it’s small. And the water, murky and brown, can’t compare to Shangri-La’s. Three more years. That’s what I hear. Amazing Tri’ news for this multi-city hosting of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Talisay and Cebu.

Me? I did the 90K bike two years ago, was scheduled to race the Individual Full last year until an injury thwarted those plans, and this Sunday, I’ll run 21K with Ralph Sios-e as swimmer and my best buddy Dr. Ronald Eullaran as biker. Our team name is JACK MEN, in honor of my late father-in-law “Jack Mendez” who passed away two weeks ago and because “we’re men of Jack.”

Pointers for the IM 70.3 first-timers

Of the 2,500 participants in next Sunday’s race, hundreds will be new. Last year, I asked a few seasoned triathletes for some pointers. Again, here are those lessons…

AYA GARCIA SHLACHTER: 1. Taper. Do not cram your workouts. 2. If you feel doubtful that you can finish the race, break down the distances in your mind. I have difficulty running 21K so I break down the run as four 5k races; this way, I am not intimidated. 3. Smile and finish strong!

CHRIS ALDEGUER. 1. Race Week = Get enough rest this week. Avoid long training sessions. Keep it short with a nice pace to stay sharp. Eat and Hydrate well. Prepare and check all gear and equipment.

2. Swim= If you are a good swimmer, position well in the front. The swim start is crowded. Positioning well will get you in a good group that can result in an overall fast pace. For the majority, it is best to take the swim easy since it is a long race. The swim can be a warmup for the bike. For the first timers, expect the swim to be chaotic. It’s important to be prepared mentally to avoid panic.

3. Bike= Since it is a long race, ride comfortably the early stage of the Bike leg. It is better to be feeling good in the later part of the Bike rather than suffer.. there is still a 21k Run to follow. Also be reminded at all times to drink and eat.

4. Run= Same with the Bike; start at a comfortable pace. A big percentage end up surviving the run rather than running the run. This often is a result of wrong pacing. It is always good to finish strong.

JANE JANE ONG. 1. Eat and rest well and get plenty of sleep. Try to sleep early every night. If you can’t sleep, just lie down in bed. 2. During race day, it’s important to pace oneself. Although the adrenaline rush might push us to swim/bike/run faster, it’s better to stick by the pace we’ve practiced to avoid getting cramps. 3. Enjoy the race!

JACS JACALAN. Pacing is critical. Going out too fast in one of the disciplines will have a consequential effect on the other two. Settle into your goal pace; you should have put in many miles in the past months at your goal pace, so it should feel natural.

Swimming with hundreds of triathletes is chaotic. Losing your goggles is a nightmare, so put-on your goggles underneath your swim cap to keep it from getting off your head. Going out hard in the swim is a huge mistake. Many triathletes push hard in the swim thinking they won’t use their shoulders during the bike and run. But hard swimming causes the body to burn more carbohydrates and this effect will last until the bike and run legs.

Ease up slightly on the last km. of the bike leg by increasing cadence and using easy gear. The transition from Bike to Run is most difficult. Reducing lactic acid levels and getting your breathing under control will enable a smoother transition. Giving up a few minutes will improve your run split more than it costs your bike split.

You’ve trained hard and with discipline. You have missed late-night partying. You have not been to the newly-opened bars. You have sacrificed family time. Most even have troubles with their wives (hehe). Race Day is the payoff. It’s over. Enjoy the race.

ANNIE NERIC. Make sure you are really prepared. Don’t worry about losing the registration fee or not participating. You are better alive than sorry. Think of yourself and family. Remember this is not an ordinary sports event.

Consult your doctor, have a check up and ensure you are fit (heart, no high blood, sugar levels). Avoid work stress; worries that may affect your condition, psyche, focus. Try to relax and try to get a good sleep the night before (this doesn’t always happen). Don’t try anything new on race day like new rubber shoes, tri suit.

Relax. Don’t tense your body and muscles. Think of good things; think of going thru the course and succeeding. This is Physical, Mental and even Spiritual. So PRAY, too! Go thru with your guardian angel. Have fun, enjoy the scenery, think of the Finish Line and look forward to a Cebu lechon!

Doc Sander: ‘Prayers kept me going’

Dr. Sander Ugalino is a member of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP). He joined the Cobra Ironman 70.3 race last August — and was the last runner allowed to complete the race!

Barely making the cutoff time for the 90K bike portion, he was, at that point, “so physically drained by the time I started running and was getting slower by the minute.” Still, he ran. “Prayers,” said Dr. Ugalino, “kept me going.”

To the many people who know him, you would not expect Doc Sander to be the typical super-slim-type triathlete. Over six feet tall, he has actually finished three (42K) marathons and considers exercise as a way to unwind and recharge. “With sports, I’m healthy and mentally fit to be able to live up to the demands of my stressful job. Lately, after I started training for Triathlon, I’ve been able to encourage my wife and son to try swimming and biking. Now, our training sessions have become quality family time as well.”

A surgeon by profession, his work schedule was full; thus, it was difficult to train. But he prioritized: God, family, work, sports/community.

RACE DAY. Sander explained in detail what happened on Aug. 4…

“The bad weather the night before the race added more tension and anxieties to all the triathletes. Good thing, Kuya Kim was there to pacify our nerves. Just like your first marathon, sleep was difficult; this time, with triple the excitement. A couple of hours before race start it was still drizzling but our prayers would not be denied…

“Swim was difficult. Current was strong and by the time our group was released the waves had swollen and it was getting more difficult to swim by the minute. At about 1.5 kms., I started having leg cramps. I rested for a few seconds, made a quick prayer and finished the swim with minimal kicks enough to make the cut-off time.

“The bike for me was most difficult. I’m not a biker and I was undertrained, having bought my road bike less than three months before. The headwind going back from Talisay to CICC was terrible and made things worst. The climb going back up to Fernan Bridge after almost 90 kms. was most difficult. I kept praying that the Lord will pedal for me and I will have enough strength to make it back to Shangri-La. I was already resigned to the fact that I might not make it in the bike cut-off time.

“However, they told me I barely made it and was the last triathlete allowed to run. The route was flat and well-shaded. It took some time before I could get my second wind and with about 4 kms. to go they told me it was already cut-off time. By God’s providence, I was allowed to finish the race and was escorted by the Ironman marshals. I finished the race with a smile on my face.”

SPIRITUAL. Doc Sander believes that apart from being mentally and physically ready, an athlete should also be prepared spiritually. “My family always included the safety and success of my Ironman race in our prayers,” he said. “With the whole BCBP community praying for me and the other brother-triathletes it wasn’t a surprise that we succeeded — all for the glory of God.”

Sander’s wife, Dr. Mai, and their son Josh were his inspiration. “They have kept me strong all throughout training and race day. Mai, Josh and I had this favorite prayer throughout training and during race day. We asked the Lord.. ‘To swim with me, to pedal for me and to run beside me.’

LEARNINGS. “Mr. (Fred) Uytensu once said that Triathlon is not just an event but a lifestyle and I completely agree with him,” he added “It has been a good learning experience as an athlete, a father, a husband and as a surgeon. It was humbling yet very fulfilling… physically-draining yet invigorating… intimidating yet very exciting.

“As they always say, pain is constant but suffering is optional. Since joining the BCBP, I have learned to lift up everything to the Lord and He has always been my source of strength. My Ironman experience further proved that ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13).’”

Tips for the Ironman first-timers

Of the 2,000+ participants in this Sunday’s Cobra Ironman 70.3 race, hundreds will be new. Here are lessons from your fellow triathletes….

CHRIS ALDEGUER. 1. Race Week = Get enough rest this week. Avoid long training sessions. Keep it short with a nice pace to stay sharp. Eat and Hydrate well. Prepare and check all gear and equipment to be sure they are ready for race day.

2. Swim= If you are a good swimmer, position well in the front. The swim start is crowded. Positioning well will get you in a good group that can result in an overall fast pace. For the majority, it is best to take the swim easy since it is a long race. The swim can be a warmup for the bike. For the first timers, expect the swim to be chaotic given the number of participants. It’s important to be prepared mentally to avoid panic.

3. Bike= Since it is a long race, ride comfortably the early stage of the Bike leg. It is better to be feeling good in the later part of the Bike rather than suffer especially that there is a 21k Run to follow. Also be reminded at all times to drink and eat.

4. Run= Same with the Bike, it is best to start at a comfortable pace. A big percentage of the participants end up surviving the run rather than running the run. This often is a result of wrong pacing. It is always good to finish strong.

JACS JACALAN. Pacing is absolutely critical in Triathlon Racing. Going out too fast in one of the disciplines will have a consequential effect on the other two. Settle into your goal pace; you should have put in many miles in the past several months at your goal pace, so it should feel natural.

Swimming with hundreds of triathletes is chaotic. Losing your goggles is a nightmare, so put-on your goggles underneath your swim cap to keep it from getting off your head. Going out hard in the swim is a huge mistake. Many triathletes push hard in the swim thinking they won’t use their shoulders during the bike and run anyway. But hard swimming causes the body to burn more carbohydrates and this effect will last until the bike and run legs of the race.

Ease up slightly on the last km. of the bike leg by increasing cadence and using easy gear. The transition from Bike to Run is the most difficult part of the race. Reducing lactic acid levels and getting your breathing under control will enable a smoother transition. Giving up just a couple of minutes here will improve your run split more than it costs your bike split.

You’ve trained hard and with discipline. You have missed late-night partying. You have not been to the newly-opened bars in the city. You have sacrificed family time. Most even have troubles with their wives (hehehe). Race Day is the payoff. It’s over. Enjoy the race.

ANNIE NERIC. Make sure you are really prepared for this event. Don’t worry about losing the registration fee or not participating. You are better alive than sorry. Think of yourself and family. Remember this is not an ordinary sports event.

Consult your doctor, have a check up and ensure you are fit (heart, no high blood, sugar levels etc). Avoid work stress; worries that may affect your condition, psyche, focus. Try to relax and try to get a good sleep the night before (this doesn’t always happen). Don’t try anything new on race day like new rubbershoes, new tri suit. Make sure you have tried and tested these before the big day.

Relax. Don’t tense your body and muscles. Think of good things; think of going thru the course and succeeding. This is Physical, Mental and even Spiritual. So PRAY, too! Go thru with your guardian angel. Have fun, enjoy the scenery, think of the Finish Line and look forward to a Cebu lechon!

JANE JANE ONG. 1. Taper in the final week. Make sure to eat and rest well and get plenty of sleep. Try to sleep early every night. If you can’t sleep, just lie down in bed. 2. During race day, it’s important to pace oneself. Although the adrenaline rush might push us to swim/bike/run faster than we are used to, it’s better to stick by the pace we’ve practiced during training to avoid getting cramps. 3. Enjoy the race!

BOYING RODRIGUEZ: 1) After all the excitement, we are down to the last week before the biggest day of our triathlon lives! If you had been religious in your training, you should have tapered down. Your body should be allowed to recover and heal these last two weeks. 2) When I was asked last year what date the next 70.3 would be, I said Aug. 4, 2013 — because it’s high tide in Mactan. You should have swam this course around the same time it would have started and at the same tide level to get a feel of the waves, current, etc. 3) I know there will be thousands of cameras clicking away because this will again be Cebu’s biggest sporting event and there is no way everyone will not want to look good on camera. But again, never use something new on this day. Never use a brand-new bike, tri-suit, goggles, shoes. Use something that you have been familiar with. 4) Take a ride on your car with a buddy with the windows open and survey the bike and run route. Feel the crosswind along the SRP and look for cracks on the road. Try to plan where you will take your power gel while biking at 35 – 40kph. 5) Listen to your body! Unless you are trying to gain a personal best time, relax and take it easy.

AYA GARCIA SHLACHTER: 1. Taper. Do not cram your workouts. Rest is part of training. 2. If you feel doubtful that you can finish the race, break down the distances in your mind. I have difficulty running 21k therefore I break down the run as four 5k races in my mind. This way, I am not that intimidated by the distance. Same goes for the bike and the swim course. 3. Smile and finish strong!

TYRONE TAN: 1. DIET- For me diet is very important. As a triathlete, improving the nutritional intake is a big factor in improving the performance almost instantly. That means no junk food, sodas, doughnuts; my mantra: if it is processed, it is not good for you. 2. REST- It is common to overtrain, thinking that more is better. In order to perform and train to the fullest, you must first take RECOVERY seriously. Practice the little things that can help bounce back faster like post-nutrition, massage, ice bath and compression socks. 3. TECHNOLOGY – invest in a bike fitting, right equipment, aero bikes, and as much as possible lighter bike parts. A 2 cm difference in body positioning can mean a back ache halfway through your first half ironman. 4. STRENGTH TRAINING – it is important to increase commitment to strength training. As much as possible 2 times a week. I recommend Pio Solon of Epic.

Bionic man Bernard Sia turns into Ironman

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Only 17 mornings remain before the most awaited sporting event in Cebu starts: the Cobra Ironman 70.3 race. One of the 2,150 triathletes joining is my friend from way back in high school, Bernard Vonn Sia.

The Executive Vice-President (EVP) of the family-owned Cebu Bionic Builders, Bernard is also a devoted husband to Cress and a proud dad to Cooper, Brie and Bliss. Here’s my full interview with Bernard…

What sports did you engage in in the past?

“I played bowling quite regularly when the SM Bowling lanes opened in the late 90’s. I was a part of ABC (Architect’s Bowling Club) representing the supplier section. This went on for about 5 years or so playing an average of 15-20 games per night 3-4x a week. Joined at least 4 or 5 tournaments a year only and never championed. hehe! After that, I took a swing at golf when my dad also started playing. Loved the sport, never had a handicap lower than 32 though and had already numerous injuries like tendonitis, back pains (bulging disc at the L4/L5) & even broke my nose! Yup my own golf ball ricocheted and hit my nose missing my left eye by half an inch. I was also part of SAGA (Society of Architect Golfers & Associates) again representing the supplier section. I’d play 2-3x a week diminishing when I got married and especially when we started having kids. The time spent on the fairway is just too long for a new family.”

How did you evolve into getting into triathlon?

“Well, it all started October 2011 when my medical check up showed a slightly high cholesterol and some other ailments. Cress then told me to get some exercise (during that time I almost had zero physical activities). I had actually been putting of exercise for the whole year of 2011- but these medical check ups shake you up you know.. a wake up call of sorts, this coupled with over 10 months of get togethers with Bendy Benedicto and everytime we would meet up we’d talk about his trainings and how it has improved his physical well being.

“So, to get the ball rolling & push myself, I registered for a fun run, not just any fun run, it was the CCM 2012 (Cebu City marathon) 21K half marathon. Take note I have never run and have never joined any fun run of any distance prior to this. This was when my kumpare John Pages would have his patience tested because I would call him almost everyday for running tips, running forms and the like . I would view videos on chi running, read on various training methods and download some training programs online. 2 months to train for the CCM half mary 2012 and I think i did 2:38 on my very first half mary. After that I found myself joining a half marathons once a month until this day.

“Since it wasn’t advisable to run everyday to give our joints a rest, I just figured, why not get a bike? a road bike probably since I’m in my 40’s? bike around the city as cross training? So I did, without any idea that there was a huge bike community in my circle of friends alone. The second I got my bike, it opened up a lot of new and old connections sharing the same enthusiasm for a healthier lifestyle. First ride, Ryan brought me straight to Willys in Busay. Second Ride, Mike Fernan rode with me straight to Danao. Majority of the guys I was riding with were all triathletes and all training for Ironman 70.3 2012 – so i kinda got sucked in their bike training while still doing my runs.

“The swim part was last.  I just toyed with the idea of: i’m running & biking, swimming probably? why not? could it be possible to teach a 40 year old the basics of swimming? So, a month before my first Tri Race, I asked Franz a triathlete and swim coach the basics —  boy did he have a hard time!! it’s really hard to teach an old dog new tricks! But it got done. It was frustrating but it got done.”

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When was your first triathlon event?

“My very first Triathon Race was a sprint distance at the Tri United 3 in Alabang, Manila.  I chose this race, well because it had a finisher’s medal and that was a good remembrance of your first Tri.  900 meters in the LaSalle Zobel Pool that lasted 39 mins; 30 km. biking around Ayala Alabang for 52 mins & 7 km run around narra park for a total time of 2:23landing a 41st place out of 68 age groupers.  Packing & unpacking the bike was hell! will probably not race an out of towner again. hehe!

Can you talk some more about last year’s IM? And the Fearless Hot Mammas?

Since I was already riding with friends training for the IM and i was regularly running, 2 weeks before IM last year, I was trying to sell myself on facebook by posting status update volunteering myself in case anyone needed a biker or runner for any relay team.  The last update i posted 2 days before the event: “Last chance for anyone looking for a Cyclist or Runner to substitute any last minute back out sa Relay for IronMan 70.3this Sunday.  Guaranteed time: Ride: 3:40; Run: 2:35”.  That day I got a message from Francis M & Marget V. referring me to the same team: the Fearless Hot Mammas.  Their runner Maimai H. narrated to me that their biker actress Jennylyn Mercado could not make it because of some misfortune (found out later in the news that she was swindled her money for this cebu trip).  And the rest is history.

“I didn’t have any expectations as I was literally a last minute substitute so i went around my business of registering and bike check in just ‘going with the flow’.  The night before the race though i slept early and took lots of water.  Left the house at 2AM to make it to the 4AM cut-off before they close off the roads. The anxiety set in an hour before swim start.  Heart Rate started to rise as there were so many watching in shang that i had to make sure I don’t fall while trying to mount the bike. hehe! on the route, lots of people & children were cheering and that made a difference.  Southbound was very difficult, the headwinds were so strong I couldnt go faster than 20kph! I just paced myself ‘just to survive’.  Going back and up the bridge was another ordeal, could I still have the energy to pedal uphill?  Saw some guys already walking their bikes up — then told myself: “this is just another willy’s ride, just another willys ride”.  got back to shangri-la 34 minutes faster than my target time and it was time to relax.  I waited for our runner at the finish line excited, I mean exhausted. hehe!

Did you decide right after the event to join the full IM this year?

“I think I was already considering it immediately after but when i saw the exhausted faces of the finisher I said “nah! I’m not that crazy!” It would later turn out I was that crazy! I decided with finality to join this year’s individual half Ironman about 2 months after.

When did you register, the first day when the online reg opened?

“Yes, I registered the first day and first minute online registration opened that was December 1, 2012 8:00AM! I then found out that it only took 4 days to fill up all the slots!

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How has your training progressed from Aug of last year until now?

“Right after last year’s IronMan70.3, most of my training involved getting the hang of the swim segment and also joining sprint and olympic distances just to get the ‘feel’ of triathlon and also so as not to do too much too soon.  The official training allegedly started around March after the Xterra Triahlon race.  So far I have build up my training base mileage the first 3 months making sure I can survive all 3 distances for each discipline with some brick (doing 2 at the same time) training here and there – sort of building up the endurance.  I also joined a lot of races making it part of the training.  The last 2 months until now is more specific with more brick trainings and more intensity but shorter distances and time.

“It is difficult to train solo as well, I was doubly blessed when last year our CCA (Cebu Contractor’s Ass.) had asked us to form a fitness group that we now call Built to Tri and early this year I was invited by the premiere Tri – Running Group TTB (Team TytsBogdo) to join their fold.  The seasoned triathletes from TTB has become my mentors in this new sport while the guys in Built To Tri have been moral boosters and vice versa.   The camaraderie in these groups also have given a new meaning to Training.

“I just have to say this though: Training for ironman is not easy.  If you get to chance upon my workout logs on Daily Mile, you will see the time that was/is spent on training. My mileage though is nothing compared to the others who dedicate more time and of course gets better results.  I aim to finish and make sure not to loose track of my goal in all of these: ‘To be healthy for my family”.  Right now, it’s family, business and training — anything more I take in will be impossible for me to handle.

“My weekday trainings are usually before the crack of dawn and finish in time to wake up my kids, have breakfast with them and bring them to school, everyday.  This means if i need to do an LSD (Long Slow Distance) run, i have to start before 4:00AM otherwise all weekday morning trainings are short and intense.  I’d sneak a 30minute swim during lunch, eat for 30 minutes and be back in the office immediately or do a Brick Swim/Run late afternoon but after the swim, I’d run to the house to save time.  My weekends used to be consumed with every Sundaytraining but over the last 2 months I felt it wasn’t doing any good forSunday family time, so I’d either do a long bike ride on a Saturday and report for work a bit later in the morning or do a quick Sunday morning training to finish before 8:00AM, in time when the kids wake up.  LongSunday trainings are now about once a month with some simulations or bricks.  Again, i cannot stress this enough, my time for family is a no compromise – and I thank my wife for her gentle reminders as trainings can be addicting and you lose track of yourself.

“As far as my progress of my training is concerned, I can’t really tell.  I think it is innate in us to under value ourselves thinking, we’re still slow, it’s still difficult and I think up to some extent, that’s good, it keeps our foot on the ground and not be complacent.  So, to answer your question: I have not progressed, but have become healthier?? Is that a valid answer?

What events have you joined?

“After my relay participation in ironman last year I have joined:

Tri United Leg 3 – Sprint Distance – November 2012
Cebu Loves Tri Leg 1 – Olympic Distance – November 2012
Cebu Loves Tri Leg 2 – Olympic Distance – February 2013
Xterra Off Road Tri – Relay 10K Run – March 2013
Talisay Triathlon – Sprint Distance – March 2013
Nat’l Age Group Triathlon – Olympic Distance – April 2013
Tabuelan 111 Triathlon – 111km distance (1.2km short of a 70.3) – June 2013

coming up after Ironman 70.3 will be Defy 123 – a 1km swim, 110km bike, 10km run in the island of bohol come october – a birthday race if you must say. :)”

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Of the three disciplines, what gave you the most difficulty and why?

“First it was the swim because I was a new swimmer and especially if the water was rough but I kinda overcame that already, now my challenge is the run especially after the tabuelan race, I feel I need to improve my run after biking 90km.”

What are your expectations this IM?

“I‘m hoping for the same professionally organized race, better hydration & nutrition support for the bike & run part, a nice cool rain free weather and of course good and safe race.  Other than that, I saw in the race route it’s practically the same as last year so the same expectation of some challenging under currents in the swim part, strong and grueling headwinds on the bike part and super hot and sunny run! :)”

Why do you think this sport is so popular today?

“I can probably attribute it to social media? People see what other people are doing so they go with the fad probably? A bucket list of sorts.  The downside to this is the lack of education and respect for the sport which might cause injuries or fatalities.  I have read of a lot of deaths or injuries from triathlon racing.  That’s why as far as my training is concerned, I train using my heart rate as basis so I don’t overtrain / overstrain myself.  Our TTB elders also always remind us of the dangers of overtraining or doing too much too soon, our version of cruel love hehe!”

What will your farthest swim, bike ride and run be in preparation for IM?

“The farthest I’ve swam is the 2 km Olanggo challenge; a 120km bike ride and 21km run during the once a month fun runs.  I hope this will be enough to prepare for IM.”

With the Cebu Marathon, how will you describe your experience?

“Honestly and at first I thought it was a bit pricey but after my first full marathon at this year’s CCM, I have to tell you without any biases it was worth every cent of the fee and more.  the race route was very safe with marshalls everywhere and I think it’s the most important factor.  The support crews were manned by very competent people, sometimes overqualified with no less than doctors on some parts.  Hydration, Nutrition, Ice Bath were in surplus.  They even have efficacent oil spray on some stations.  The route was also filled with lively cheerers, bands, some music, and more.  Lots of photographers that openly share their photos as well. and of course last but not the least, I can proudly say I ran my first marathon at home: Cebu.”

What has sports and exercise taught you?

“Ironically John, though training for IM70.3 is very time consuming, it has taught me time management.  It has extended my sense of patience, forbearance and humility.  Sports is a good release of stress from other factors in your life as long as you don’t let the sport stress you out.”

Do you pray before, during or after an event/training?

“I have this practice of kneeling infront of Senor Santo Nino at home before any training asking for a safe workout and to ‘bring me back safely to my family after each training’.  We also pray as a group before a long ride or event asking for protection and safety.  I have a rosary that I bought in our Lady of Manaoag in Luzon when my wife (then girlfriend) went there that i place on the stem of my bike, that I touch and say a little prayer also before a ride.”

Gov. Junjun Davide leads Cebu’s Ironman 70.3

IMG_0503At a meeting in the Capitol recently, Gov. Junjun (seated, 2nd from right) with (from left, seated) Atty. Mark Tolentino, Dr. Peter Mancao, Princess Galura and Hembler Mendoza, among others

When he was still with the Cebu City Council, I had met Hilario “Junjun” Davide III several times.

During the Cebu Sports Awards when POC Chairman Monico Puentevella, now Bacolod City mayor, graced our awards night at the Casino Espanol as guest speaker, it was Junjun Davide who attended the affair representing the Cebu City government.

When I was president of the Rotary Club of Cebu West — just a few months after he narrowly lost to Gwen Garcia — I invited Mr. Davide as speaker. Our Rotarians had a terrific night listening to the eloquent son of our former Supreme Court Chief Justice — also because Junjun happened to be a high school (Sacred Heart School) classmate of four other Rotarians: Bobby Yap, Alvin Tan, Benjie Cimafranca and Maxwell Ahyong. These moments happened a few years back.

A few weeks ago, I happened to be in close contact again with Governor Davide. This time, when the organizers of the Cobra Ironman 70.3 triathlon race — Sunrise Events, Inc. — needed to coordinate with the new provincial leaders.

July 1st, 2013; Monday morning early this week, on the historic first day of his governorship — and inside the improvised room in the Capitol that temporarily serves as his headquarters — I had the opportunity to meet with the new governor again.

We chatted. He read a message that we videotaped and was aired the following day when the Cobra Ironman 70.3 was launched in Shangri-La Makati. We met again last Thursday morning when he joined the organizational meeting between Sunrise Events (led by Princess Galura) and the province.

Gov. Junjun may not be a triathlete or a runner like Mayor Mike Rama — but he has vowed to fully support the August 4 event that is the Ironman.

Atty. Mark Tolentino, the Provincial Administrator — a close friend since college and a fellow member of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) — is the lead person in behalf of the Capitol. He’s helping organize this huge sports event that will have 2,150 participants (including two world champs, Pete Jacobs and Chris McCormack, going head-to-head). It has been challenging. The new Provincial leaders began their term just last July 1 and the IM70.3 is on August 4. That’s a little over one month.

But thanks to Atty. Mark Tolentino (a runner who finished the 42K at the Cebu Marathon) and Gov. Junjun (plus the so many volunteers, including Dr. Peter Mancao, who has accepted the challenge to head the Medical team) this will be another proud moment for Cebu tourism and sports.

Mayor Rex Gerona and the Tabuelan 111

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The Cobra Ironman 70.3 event will be this August 4. Prior to this triathlon race that is billed as Cebu’s biggest sporting affair, a must-race swim-bike-run meet is the Tabuelan 111 — which swims off this Sunday, June 16.

While Ironman’s “70.3” refers to 70.3 miles total (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run), the Tabuelan organizers have creatively transformed the distance to kilometers: 2K swim, 90K bike and 21K run. Thus, 111 kms.

The municipality of Tabuelan, with a population of less than 25,000, is behind this hugely popular race. Credit goes to the leader of Tabuelan: Mayor Rex Casiano Gerona.

Here’s my Q & A with the 41-year-old mayor-triathlete whose motto is, “If others can do it, so can I.”

Why triathlon? Mayor Rex: “I weighed around 230 lbs and health problems started to arise like high cholesterol and high blood pressure. I felt I needed to exercise and do something for my health and for my family. Triathlon appealed to me because it is more challenging with three different areas which includes swimming, biking and running. I lost over 50 lbs. in a years’ time and have become healthier.”

How did you start? “When I read in a local daily that the Ironman 70.3 will be held in Cebu, it really interested me. Even without any background in swimming, biking and running, I tried to register on-line and when I was finally registered, I immediately decided to diligently train with less than 8 months to the said event.”

What events have you finished? “Cebu Marathon, Bohol Marathon, Ultra Marathon 50k, Bohol Timex 226, Cobra Ironman 70.3, Cebu Triathlon Leg Series, Cagayan de Oro NAGT Series, Camiguin Triathlon, Bantayan, Sogod, San Remigio, Siquijor, Dakak, Carmen, Danao City, Dalaguete and the Tabuelan 111”

With the Bohol Timex 226 (3.8K swim, 180K bike, and 42K run), how did you do it?     “Actually I had less than a year training before I started! Triathlon training January 2012 then joined the Bohol Timex 226 triathlon Dec. 1, 2012 at Anda, Bohol. It was self-fulfillment because that is the ultimate dream of every triathlete — to be able to finish a 226 race. I finished it at around 14 hours which was a strong finish for a first timer with less than one year triathlon experience. I was also very happy to finish it with four of my close triathlon buddies who were first timers as well. Sweet victory for all of us! So happy my family was there to support me all the way.”

Future events you’re joining? “Tabuelan 111; Cebu 100k Ultramarathon July; Cobra Ironman 70.3 in August; Busselton IMWA in December, which will be my first full Ironman international triathlon; Melbourne IMWA in March 2014.”

How did you make Tabuelan 111 so popular? “When I was planning to join the Cobra Ironman 70.3 last August, 2012 in Cebu, many fellow triathletes were not able to register and others have not tried the said distance so it was just a good chance to offer them more or less the same distance at a cheaper cost, thus, a good value for their money. No other triathlon event offers such distance before the IM70.3 race.”

Why is Tabuelan ideal for triathlon? “We had good feedback last year that it was well-organized, the community was very supportive and we closed the road to traffic especially during the bike course which was highly appreciated. We have white sand beaches and the roads are in good condition. It is also cheaper to go there so it’s really money’s worth!”

What to expect? “A better race over last year. We had almost 200 participants last year. Now, over 500 triathletes have registered so it’s more challenging for all the participants as well as to the organizers. We have prepared personalized kits and finisher shirts. We are now using timing chips used in Ironman events.”

Advice to the other mayors? “We are trying to promote Sports tourism not just in Tabuelan but Cebu as a whole. As municipal mayor, I am a model not just for the youth but for everyone who wants to live a healthier life. It’s never too late for I decided to be a triathlete at the age of 40.”

Open Water Swimming

Guy Concepcion, one of the chief architects of the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 as Race Director, sent me an email. Guy is organizing a couple of swim events called the Swim Masters Series. (For more info, please go to www.sportsmgt.ph.) Here are a few details:

First, the Speedo 3.5.8 Open Water Race in Anilao, Batangas (November 4). Race Distances are 3k, 5k, and 8k.

Plus, the Swim Masters Series at the Village Sports Club, BF Homes, Paranaque (November 10).

Various events of all strokes (50m, 100m) for the following age-groups:  20-24, 25-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-above.

“Open Water is already an Olympic-sport, the 10k distance,” said Guy. “It is quite popular outside the Philippines already — remember I joined a race last April in Israel? We should really stage more open water events locally. We do have great waters in our country, Cebu especially. One day there should already be a Filipino Open Water Olympian. We just have to get started with organizing events. As for triathletes, these open water races are great opportunities to improve their swim leg.”

“Masters Swimming is even a more popular phenomenon all over the world. The FINA World Masters Championship usually attracts 9000 participants. I’ve actually set my sights for the 2014 World Masters swimming championship in Montreal, Canada. If runners have their Sunday races, fitness swimmers should have their fun pool races too, right?”

For more information, visit www.sportsmgt.ph.

Post-race Reports of Cebu’s Ironmen (and Women)

CHRIS ALDEGUER: It was my first ever race that I got to smile and enjoy. I never have fun during a race, but this was different. The crowd was unbelievable. I couldn’t believe this magnitude of a race was happening in our hometown. Finish time: 5:30:52.

Photo by Catherine Israel-Angeles

ALAN CHOACHUY: It was very emotional; I broke down at the finish bringing the Biggest Loser flag. First thing that crossed my mind: for all the obese and unhealthy people who thought they have no chance to change. I’m living proof that you can be what you want to be as long as you put your heart in to it. (A year ago I was 309 lbs!) I never life imagined I can finish a 70.3 Ironman.

The race was really tough, my target time was 7 hours (finished in 7:58). I was surprised at my 40-min swim; very relaxing. The second discipline was my favorite but I had mechanical trouble in my bike’s rear tire around Km. 60. A spoke broke and the tire was wobbly. For 30kms, I pedaled harder and that caused my legs to be worn out. I had 4 hours to spare to finish the 21km. It was my longest 21K! At one point, I told myself I’m not going to do this again. But, seconds after crossing the finish, I said, “I will do this again next year!”

Photo by Mike Jo

AMALE JOPSON: Even with the crazy water start and the surprise of the gun about to go off when everyone was way beyond the supposed starting line, I enjoyed the swim leg. The water was clear and calm, which allowed me to maneuver around the slower swimmers from the first wave. Except for a slight current on the way back, swim conditions were great, helping me to clock 32:08 at the timing mat putting us in a good position for the overall win in the all women’s relay. The event was well-staged and made me feel proud that we had a world-class race in Cebu. It made me think that maybe I would like to participate in the individual race next year if I can find a way for my kids not to feel like orphans for a few months while training. 🙂

Amale, Lohriz Echavez-Lopez and Mary Joy Tabal

MENDEL LOPEZ, 3rd placer, Filipino elite. Of all my sporting achievements, this has to be the best ever. I was slow in the swim (34 mins), as I expected. In the bike, I recovered and timed 2:31. I suffered in the run (1:28) because of the biking effort. Triathlon training is not as painful as the marathon. My next target: the Timex 226 (full Ironman) in Bohol this December.

Photo by Jens Funk

JANE-JANE ONG. My 2nd IM 70.3 was very memorable. Of the 3 disciplines, swim is my weakest. However, water on race day was calm, no waves, no undercurrent, no jellyfish. YAY! I surprised myself by cutting my time by 14 min. Bike was very difficult with the strong winds from CICC to Talisay. And I thought Camsur was difficult when the rain poured… but this was worse. But the best part of it being held in Cebu, our homecourt, is that plenty of friends and fellow athletes cheered.

AYA GARCIA SHLACHTER. The most enjoyable part for me was swimming in the open water. It is challenging and you need to be mentally prepared, swimming with hundreds of people. The bike is my weakest but I managed to finish the course in one piece even though I crashed during one of the narrow U-turns. I knew I was going to crash so I decided to gracefully make a free fall to the right without resisting the crash. I picked myself up and continued the bike course injury-free. Most memorable part was when my dear friend Sen. Pia Cayetano was waiting for me in the finish. I will do this again and will recommend it to friends. 7:04:24 was my time.

BERNARD SIA, who replaced Jennylyn Mercado as biker for Team FHM (Fearless Hot Mammas), with swimmer Ripples Faelnar and runner MaiMai Hermosilla. Said Bernard, who clocked 3:06: The IM70.3 will be remembered for a long time. While I awaited for our swimmer my heart rate was already at 112, anxious & excited! During my whole ride I just remembered one tip: keep my heart rate at 150-155. We lost a cyclist, don’t know him personally but would like to dedicate that ride to him. Ramie Igaña, that was for you. Most fun: friends taking time to cheer especially Andy & Renee Ven who took nice picture and this ONCE IN A LIFETIME chance to bike the SRP & the tunnel! Most painful: Fernan bridge Mactan bound & strong headwinds to Talisay!

Photo by Michael Ocana

GANDHI TRUYA, who finished 5:43:49. I enjoy it more than a full marathon, the latter is more painful. Recovery in 70.3 is faster… Cruising at the SRP coastal road getting hit by headwind and blown away by the tailwind is something a cyclist here does not experience often. Compared to Camsur? No offense to CWC but Shangri-La is definitely better. The Marcelo Fernan bridge, the tunnel, and the SRP road are some of the things Camsur can’t offer.