Every time you coin the words “first” and “inaugural” in an event, there will always be hiccups. Not this time. That’s because the women and men behind the 1st Cebu City Triathlon are, themselves, runners, cyclists and swimmers.
That’s why, when you scan the reviews and browse through the Facebook photos after last Sunday, you’ll read nothing but praises for the organizers. I’ll say the same thing I said two months ago after San Remigio 8080: Kudos to Steve and Maricel Maniquis, Quinito Moras, Joel Juarez, Niño Abarquez and the rest of what is rapidly evolving as the top triathlon organizers in our island. CCT: Congratulations, Cornerstone Team.
What was different about the Cebu City Triathlon? First, it’s located, from start to finish, within the boundaries of the oldest city in the country. How often can a triathlon event boast that claim? I think none before. I believe this is a first with Cebu City.
How possible? Two words: swimming pool. While all other triathlon events involve the open waters of Bogo or Dalaguete or Tabuelan, this one is chlorine-vaccinated. It’s pool water. (Amale Jopson tells me that this is quite common and popular in Manila — but a new concept for our city.)
The swim was conducted in the 50-meter swimming pool of the Cebu City Sports Center — a first, I believe, at the CCSC. The next question: How do you fit 250 athletes in one rectangular body of water? The answer: You group them according to “waves.” The elite men and women (Noy Jopson, Joseph Miller) start first at 6 a.m. Next, ten minutes later, the women (Nia Aldeguer, Rhoanne Salimbangon) follow. Ten minutes after the girls, the 15 to 19 age bracket kicks off. And so forth until all the groups are swimming, free-styling, breast-stroking. It’s a fun (and somewhat chaotic) sight.
In CCT, the swim is only 750 meters long. I say “only” because, in comparison, the Ironman 70.3 race involves 1,900 meters of Shangri-La-waters swimming.
To complete 750 meters on the pool, you make five laps at 50 meters per lap for a total of 250. After one loop, you get off the pool, run around the pool then start again. You do three loops to complete 750 meters. This makes for a swim-run, swim-run, swim CCT start.
I joined last Sunday’s race and, I must admit, I had a lot of difficulty with the swim. You’re less buoyant compared to the salt water/open sea. There are 70 or more of you swimmers in the same pool, all scrambling and kicking and scooping water. I’m a non-swimmer and it’s a completely different “washing machine-like” atmosphere compared to when you’re practicing laps by your lone self. Lesson for me: more practice!
But to majority of participants, I think they enjoyed the swim. It’s less intimidating than the choppy waves and strong current of, say, Mactan; it’s a good first Tri’ to try.
After the 750-meter swim, it’s off to the bike. Positioned under the grandstand area of the CCSC, the bikes are formed in a long row. You clip-on your helmet, wear your shoes, then you’re off to the exit..
Biking along Osmeña Boulevard down to Colon St. and passing Sto. Niño Church all the way to Plaza Independencia was a terrific experience. No other time are the streets free of vehicles for you to travel 30 kph on two leg-powered wheels.
The bike leg was 20 kms. — mostly at the South Road Properties. What a fantastic moment to pedal without traffic at the SRP. The only challenge: it rained hard that 5 a.m. and it was still raining when many biked. The route was expertly managed with an “M” loop, similar to the one for IM70.3.
After the 20K on wheels, it’s back to CCSC to deposit the bikes and the last leg was for the legs. It’s a short 5-km. run from the rubberized oval in Abellana towards the Provincial Capitol and back… with a nice downhill boost on the return before circling the oval until you cross the finish arc.
The fastest? CCT: Chiongbian & Chiongbian Tandem… brothers Justin and Yuan.