The Final Countdown to Ironman 70.3 PH

In just a few short days, I’ll be toeing the starting line at Ironman 70.3 Philippines once again. I’ve been a regular at this race for four years: my first year I was a relay cyclist, and this will be my third year as an individual starter.

Despite all the races I’ve done since I started doing half distance triathlons, my personal best was still set on my maiden one in 2013 in Cebu. It was a combination of great weather, good training, and not being exhausted from doing so many long races earlier in the year. :P

2013 Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines

This year I haven’t had the razor-sharp focus on training that defined my first 70.3 or last year’s Challenge Roth race, but anything can happen on race day so I’m just going to give it a go. It will be my last half for the year unless something comes up work-related, so I need to make sure I enjoy it!

Cebu-based triathletes and some early birds did a bike course recon last weekend and I’m glad it’s back to the original route with only one pass through the “M” section on the SRP Highway. I’m less enthused by the fact that some sections of the road remain full of craters — the same sections that were already bad back in 2012. I wonder how the residents of Cebu province can put up with it…

Ironman 70.3 Cebu
on the bike course during last year’s race

This year my whole immediate family is coming to the race: my mom and dad as well as my sister, her husband, and my adorable baby nephew. I know they won’t be bored in Cebu because there’s so many other things to do aside from watching the race, and it will be wonderful to cross the finish line with them all there.

To make my race hassle-free I’m availing Primo Cycles‘ bike services again. They will pack and unpack my bike both ways in Manila and Cebu and will give it a nice pre-race tune-up. This is vital since I really don’t want mechanical issues to put a stop to me crossing the finish line. (Incidentally, Primo Cycles just celebrated their fourth anniversary.)

win Pete\'s gear!While I’m there, I can’t miss out on the yurbuds Meet and Greet with Pete Jacobs on Friday, July 31 at 5pm at the yurbuds booth in the Marquee of Shangri-La Mactan. While Pete struggled with back-to-back ironmans last year and competed only in the relay division, this year he’s fresh and ready to go with the pros and is still one of the most insanely talented endurance athletes on the planet.

Get a chance to win a prize pack of Pete’s favorite training gear at the Meet and Greet: this contains a pair of Asics shoes, an ISM seat, a signed replica of Pete’s 2012 World Champion race singlet, and an exclusive pair of Pete Jacobs signature yurbuds. To win, visit the yurbuds booth from July 30-31 to register your name, and be present at the Meet and Greet to claim your prize. The winner will be drawn at random after the Meet and Greet event.

Pete will be up against two-time Ironman and Ironman 70.3 world champion Craig Alexander, who even at the advanced age of 42 is still no slouch at the 70.3 distance. He will also have to go through last year’s winner Brent McMahon, who forms part of the Bahrain Endurance 13 assault on the race with his teammate Caroline Steffen. Caroline is going for an unprecedented fourth consecutive win in the women’s pro division.

This will also be Belinda Granger’s last half distance triathlon as a professional, so it will be nice to catch up with her again. I’m sure she’ll hit the podium one last time too. :)

If you’ll be in Cebu this weekend, hit me up in the comments. Let’s make this race one to remember.

A Pedestrian in Bavaria

After Challenge Roth week I spent another week exploring a few cities in Bavaria, which is the federal state in Germany in which Roth is a district. While the Tri Clark boys had a rental car to drive around in (and would eventually tour some countries in Eastern Europe), I would make my journey by rail and on foot. I’ve always loved exploring new places with my own two feet, but this would be my longest period without a car to do so. I would be passing through the city of Regensburg for two nights, and then stay in Munich for two nights before flying home. I also planned a day trip to Salzburg, Austria, which historically and culturally is Bavarian.

In Manila we are used to motorized transport, and our city has grown so large we can’t walk comfortably from one appointment to another unless we’ve scheduled them all within one place. Even though I’m a runner capable of covering long distances, I am still guilty of looking at one of my fellow runners askance when he said he’d walked from Ortigas to BGC. This is doable, but no one does it unless out of dire need — no taxis, shuttles, or trains available. So it was quite refreshing to be a pedestrian on those roads that had been designed not for cars, but for people.

Nuremberg Tour

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Return to Roth, Part 2

So here we are four days after the race, and it’s only now I can even begin to write about it.

First off, I need to clarify something. I DID NOT RACE. I was at Challenge Roth for many reasons, but it wasn’t because I had planned to redeem myself from last year’s mishaps. I feel that truly I’m done with ironman triathlons, and I am glad that I’ve already finished the only one I ever wanted to do.

I had, however, planned to see how enjoyable Challenge Roth is from a spectator’s point of view. How is it that more than 100,000 spectators make their way down to the little town in Franconia every year? (This year, the number was more than 200,000!) What would drive people to spend at least 8 hours to as much as 15 hours of a day waiting around for masochistic athletes to pass by?

Return to Roth

Continue reading “Return to Roth, Part 2”

Return to Roth

It’s now July, one of the best months in the year ever because, you know, my birthday’s in it. I’ve been wondering about how to celebrate this year just because it seems like I have everything I would want or need right now.

But I’ve been getting little signs of sorts from unexpected places, like the spiffy new passport cover from Globe Telecom’s media launch for their Slipstream event. Or the really nice cover feature Overseas Filipino World magazine did on yours truly. And the German embassy granted me a visa.

#ChallengeRothTeamPHI 2014
all roads lead back to Roth

So in just a few days’ time, I’m flying back to Germany to revisit the world’s biggest long-distance triathlon, Challenge Roth. One of my biggest regrets from last year when I raced it was that I didn’t get to do any sightseeing (save that done from my bike and on my two feet running the marathon). This year, I’m a spectator and the self-appointed cheering squad for all the Filipinos who are entered in the race.

Last year, there were four Filipinos who took on the course which has seen world records on the ironman distance set by Andreas Raelert and Chrissie Wellington — yours truly, Ani de Leon-Brown, Arland Macasieb, and a gentleman based in the Middle East (sorry, sir, I don’t have your name). SWIMBIKERUN.ph’s Carlos de Guzman was on the start list but wasn’t able to start.

This year there are eight set to fly our flag across the finish line. Meinardo Opiana from Smart Tri Team won a Challenge Roth package at the 2014 Challenge Philippines. We have the Bangkok-based Jeff Laguitao of Thailand Triathlon and Cycling Team. And of course my friends from Yellow Cab-Tri Clark Team: Jeremy David, Alan Galang, Mac Mandap, Jumbo Tayag, Abe Tayag, and John Villanueva.

Challenge Roth stands out from other races because it’s an experience both for the participants AND the spectators. With its schedule of events leading up to the race open to the public as well as race day itself (the website suggests routes for spectators to follow), if you’re following athletes around to cheer for them it won’t be too hard. You also can’t help getting swept up in the emotion of the crowds cheering athletes on.

Although I’ve only done the race once, when I close my eyes I can still see myself swimming past the giant buoys in the Main-Donau Canal, cycle alongside beer tents at Eckersmuhlen and up Solar Hill, and run over the cobblestones of Roth into the finish line. I don’t have any desire to repeat this, but I’m excited for our boys to experience this for themselves and am looking forward to being there for them after they cross the finish line.

And this time, of course, I’m going to do all the things I missed out on last time: take a tour through Nuremberg and head up to Nuremberg Castle; run the many beautiful trails around Roth; swim at the public baths; attend the big town pre-race party; and head off somewhere else in Germany after the race via rail!

It’s going to be a great birthday present to myself, and I’m taking you with me via this blog. I’ll be updating and posting while I’m there so I can bring you all the action.

Now, time to figure out what I’m packing… :)