Ironman 70.3 Philippines

Ironman 70.3 Philippines Cebu

Ironman 70.3 Philippines

While I’m waiting for the sun to come out again, let me reminisce the past sunny weekend spent in Cebu on the inaugural edition of Ironman 70.3 Philippines. After three years held in Camarines Sur, the country’s Ironman 70.3 found a new home in the Queen City of the South.

I’ve been trying to summon up the willpower and the funds to join the individual edition for a year, but when registration opened last December I realized I needed more time to prepare fully for the distance. So, my teammates and I formed an all-female relay team: ENDURE Belles. Hanna’s a strong swimmer, Ellen wanted to run, so I took on the bike leg as a way to force myself to improve my cycling fitness and skills.

Ironman 70.3 Philippines: Endure Belles

ENDURE Belles Ellen, Noelle, and Hanna

Inadvertently I found myself also doing the same logistical preparations as individual category participants when it came to traveling with my bike (a little rehearsal for the real whole thing never hurts, right?). I invested in a bike bag and paid for packing and reassembly services from The Brick, which had an outpost 1 kilometer away from race venue Shangri-La Mactan. I figured it was good practice to have professionals handle my bike instead of trying to do it all on my own.

Ironman 70.3 Philippines: at The Brick bike services

with the Tri-Bukidnon men at The Brick outpost (photo from Tri.Bu)

After getting my bike reassembled and tuned on Friday, I pedaled to Shangri-La to check out the expo. Exhibitors included Yurbuds, Specialized, and Cervelo. *drool* I was also around for the Meet the Pros event. I was stoked to see Pete Jacobs and Belinda Granger back to defend their titles, but was awed that Caroline Steffen (otherwise known as Xena the Warrior Princess) was in attendance especially after she’d won the ITU Long Distance Championship a few weeks ago.

Ironman 70.3 Philippines: gwapo bike

Cervelo, Xena’s bike brand of choice

The next day a few teammates and I were up early to help marshal the Alaska Ironkids triathlon. Coach Ani had just finished doing a recon of the Ironkids swim course and had realized it was quite shallow because the tide hadn’t come in yet. So she gathered the kids around and briefed them on a swim recon to help them get familiar with the course.

Ironman 70.3 Philippines: Ironkids briefing

Coach Ani briefs the Ironkids

Seeing the kids out on the water reminded me that aside from the bike and run disciplines, I really need to work on my swim in order to survive a 70.3. I’m not just talking about strokes; I’m talking open-water swim confidence. While other kids jumped into the water right at the gun start, I related very much with one little girl who needed cajoling to get through the swim leg. Gulp.

Ironman 70.3 Philippines: Ironkids swim recon

swim recon

After my beach marshalling duties (I had to keep parents and bystanders from crowding in too close), I headed to the Ironkids finish line, where Coach Dan and last year’s Filipino elite champion Arland Macasieb were waiting to drape medals around the finishers’ necks.

Ironman 70.3 Philippines: Dan and Arland

Dan and Arland

I think if kids go into triathlon, they have to be self-motivated; they can’t be pushed into it by parents or coaches. And the same goes for anyone heading into the long-distance triathlons like the 70.3 distance. Even if everyone else around is going for it, ultimately the decision is personal. You’re ready when you’re ready in the head and heart for it.

Ironman 70.3 Philippines: Ironkids

congrats, Endure Ironkids! (photo from Vilma Vizcarra)

The next day, Sunday, was for the big kids. Walking through transition to get to my bike, get things prepped and stowed properly, and wait for Hanna to come in from the swim was nerve-wracking.

Ironman 70.3 Philippines: Endure Belles

Ready, girls? (photo from Pyds Cayetano)

Being the relay cyclist can kind of suck. You can’t watch the exciting mass swim start because it’s an ordeal getting from T1 to the beach and back. There’s nothing happening until your swimmer gets in, and then all of a sudden it’s a mad dash to grab your timing chip, run back to your bike, and get going. So basically it’s a whole hour of feeling antsy about how fast your swimmer can finish their leg. It was nice to get to meet others in the same boat though — to finish the bike course before the bike cut-off so their relay runner can start.

Ironman 70.3 Philippines: Endure relay bikers

with Endure teammate Pyds (photo from Jun Neri)

Ironman 70.3 Philippines: Relayists

with Tessa Valdes and son Bryan, teacher Tina Zamora and yogi Tristan Choa

Ironman 70.3 Philippines: mounting

out of T1 (photo from Frances Bocalbos)

Finally, Hanna showed up at transition, and it was my turn. Getting out of Shangri-La and onto the narrow roads of Mactan was quite daunting with the number of cyclists I shared the road with. Not only did I have to keep my wits about me to avoid a crash with them or with spectators, but I also had to keep a non-drafting distance (four bike lengths) between myself and the rider in front of me.

It wasn’t just avoiding drafting that was tough. The bike course involved passing the same length of road four times — twice against a prevailing headwind, and twice with a tailwind. Patches of road were quite rough and bumpy, jarring my bones if I assumed aero position. And after all that, we would have to make the steep climb up Fernan Bridge.

Ironman 70.3 Philippines: tough ride

tough, tough ride (photo from MTB Ph)

Finally, I was headed towards T2. My goal was to make it back to Ellen in 3 hours 20 minutes or less. So I was extremely happy to dismount with a time of 3:18.

Ironman 70.3 Philippines: heading in

into T2 (photo from Mickie Go)

Ellen was off in a flash, and I went off to find a shower and change into some clean clothes in time to welcome her at the finish line some two hours later. We finished in 5th place in the all-female relay category!

Ironman 70.3 Philippines: finishers

relay and individual finishers

Afterwards, we picnicked on the Shangri-La golf course grass using our finisher towels as mats while we waited for our teammates to finish. We also needed to wait for the awards ceremony because one of our teammates, Izah Sueno, had placed second in her age group. Congrats, Ice Monster!

Ironman 70.3 Philippines: picnic!

picnic! (photo from Pyds Cayetano)

I registered for the relay because this was supposed to be reconnaissance for joining the individual category next year. Given the difficulty of the course as I and others experienced it (even Pete Jacobs said it was one of the toughest courses in the world!), if I intend to join next year there’s a lot to improve. A lot.

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About Noelle De Guzman

Noelle De Guzman is a freelance writer and recreational athlete with over 12 years of experience in wellness and endurance sport. She believes sport and an active healthy lifestyle changes lives.

6 thoughts on “Ironman 70.3 Philippines Cebu

  1. Congrats, Endure Belles and Team Endure! 🙂
    Time to start saving up and training for individual. 😉
    Best of luck!

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