Few people can swim 1.9 kms. Few people can bike 90 kms.—roughly the distance from Cebu City to Bogo. Few people can run, unaided by car or tricycle and with nothing on the feet but socks and rubber shoes, the length of 21 kms. How about finishing not one, not two—but all three? Not one today, one sport tomorrow and another on Thursday—but one after the other? Back to back to back?
Anton Regis has accomplished that. Aged 29 and, for three years now, delightedly-living with his wife Zie (they have a four-month-old baby named Zoe Angelou), Anton works as a Software Development Engineer at the NCR Cebu Development Center at the I.T. Park. That’s his day job. His passion? On Sundays? During days off when he has free time to pedal, swim freestyle and jog?
Triathlon. And the 1.9K swim, 90K bike ride and 21K run undertaking? Anton is one of the few Cebuanos to have achieved such a feat. “It started back in 1997,” he wrote via email, “when I saw this very inspiring and moving video called the Ironman World Championships held in Kona, Hawaii. It is the triathlon with the longest distance and the mother of all events with a 3.9-km. swim, a 180-km. bike and a 42-km. run. Watching it sparked the triathlon spirit in me.
“When I heard of a triathlon race a few months later, I joined. Not to finish all three events but as part of a relay team where I did the bike leg. Eventually, I evolved into finishing triathlons individually. It feels different when you finish a triathlon. It’s not only fun and fulfilling but, most of all, you feel like a winner even if you do not win! I was addicted by this feeling and fell in love with the sport.”
After Anton joined his first triathlon 12 years ago, he competed. No, the goal wasn’t to win—that’s reserved for the so-called “elite” athletes, with Noy Jopson topping the list—but the goal was join and to enjoy and to cross that finish line with arms raised up high.
Last year, Anton joined the Half-Ironman event in Singapore. (The term “Ironman” is licensed and can only be used by accredited events. In the Phils., the first-ever IM will happen in Camarines Sur this August 23.)
“Joining the Aviva 70.3 Ironman Singapore Triathlon last September 7, 2008, brings me a step closer in fulfilling my crazy dream—to finish a full Ironman. The 70.3 Ironman race, however, is a shorter version (1.9-km. swim, 90-km. bike and 21-km. run). My friend, Bernard Tanchan, and another Cebuano, Trino Transmonte, signed up as well. Participants reached up to 1,400 consisting of 600 Singaporeans, 300 expats and 500 international competitors, including 26 Filipinos.”
I asked Anton (who happens to be my second-degree cousin) for precise details of his monumental experience and here’s his account…
“Race day was full of excitement and energy. I woke up at 4 a.m., ate my cereals, then did my stretching routine. By 5 a.m., Bernard and I were on our way to the venue. It was still dark when we got there. Athletes were already lining up for body marking for the race numbers. Loud music and an emcee greeted us as we went to the transition area. More than an hour later, the race began.
Anton (left) with Bernard Tanchan minutes before the swim
“There were several wave starts. The pros go first then the age groupers follow. Watching how the pros did it was spectacular! After four wave starts, it was our turn. The starting area was jam packed (we felt like sardines) with 300 swimmers. As the starting gun fired, everyone ran towards the water. As I started swimming, I could feel the other swimmers close by. Everyone was fighting for their own space. I did not push too hard for the traffic alone can already drain me of much needed energy, dodging kicks and arms.
“When I was about to finish the swim, I saw Bernard just a couple of meters ahead of me. He went off the water first and headed to the Transition Area (TA). I followed him and glanced at my watch clocking in about 52 minutes (7 minutes more than what I planned). I took my time preparing for the next challenge… the bike leg.”