The Cebu Trip and the Cobra IronMan 70.3 Philippines Experience Final Part

At  the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, Lapu-Lapu City

At the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, Lapu-Lapu City

Despite coming to Crimson Resort and Spa a little late the previous night and having a few hours of sleep, I still have a good sleep. Thanks to the very comfy accommodation at the resort. I woke up around 3am to get ready for the big race. The warm shower and the oh-so-mouth-watering breakfast buffet sumptuously prepared at Saffron Café jumpstarted the day. I was later joined by Tin, Rudnie, and Rone.

It was a cold rainy morning. While waiting for the van, rain was drizzling as gusts of wind occasionally send ruffles of leaves and branches nearby. We boarded the van as soon as it arrived and we headed off to the race venue at Shangri – La Mactan. Roughly a kilometer or so from the venue entrance, traffic was already building up, not to mention the continuous drizzle. Race participants and non – participants have decided to go on foot instead. The weather wasn’t really good to reckon with.

I knew that it’s gonna be a long and tiring day. But then again, I knew that it’s gonna exciting and a whole lot of fun. After the short briefing, I met up with my rider and took the early grayish, cold, rainy and deserted road of Lapu – Lapu City down to the turn-around point in Talisay. Droplets of rain felt like cutting through my skin and the cold wind numbing my skin. At half past 6 in the morning, we drove past groups of people who lined up along the streets waiting for the racers to pass by.

Students in their PE uniforms, CAT uniforms and in civilian clothes have already filled the sidewalks. Children and adults alike mingled with the rest of the crowd.

In the photo (left to right): Top - Jacqui Slack & Ben Allen, with IM World Champion Pete Jacobs, with IM World Champion Chris McCormack; Bottom - with Belinda Granger; with Luke and Meg Gillmer

In the photo (left to right): Top – Jacqui Slack & Ben Allen, with IM World Champion Pete Jacobs, with IM World Champion Chris McCormack; Bottom – with Belinda Granger; with Luke and Meg Gillmer

Soon, the lead pack of triathletes came rushing at the first turn around point. Courtney Atkinson was leading the male pros, Banjo Norte of Alaska Team TBB was leading the Filipino Elites, Caroline Steffen, also of Alaska Team TBB was leading the female pros. The crowd never failed to give the racers a boost with the loudest cheers, giving them a push. As it has been the talk of the town, young and old alike were anticipating for celebrity triathlete Piolo Pascual to pass by. And whether you would like it or not, despite the murmurs hounding his preference, he still got the loudest cheers ever. Tessa Prieto-Valdes was in her usual flamboyant outfit. Well, I guess she won’t be a Tessa if she doesn’t dress up like the way she always does.

The 90 – kilometre bike ride seemed like a breeze for the pros and the elites. However, along the route, there were racers who had to go off road due to a broken chain or a flat tire. From the bike course, we moved to the run course to catch up with the lead pack. We were driving at around 60-80 kph! When I got to the race venue, I proceeded to the run course. I had to go on foot as all motor vehicles were not allowed along the run course.

I was running along with some of the triathletes – with a backpack, a mobile phone on my hand. And yeah, I was in my running gear the whole time so I was kind of prepared for it.

While at the run course of the race, I witnessed a lot of really good and positive things. One – Bree Wee who is a female pro triathlete, gave one male participant a really good push when she saw him walking. Caroline Steffen, also a female pro, gave her team mate Filipino Elite Jenny Guerrero a push that she needed. Sometimes, a light pat on the back is all someone would need to keep going. Later that day, I had the opportunity to speak with Jenny, who placed second in the Filipino Elite W Category. She shared that at some point during the run, she felt almost giving up and she her family was her source of strength to make it to the finish line. Ironman World Champion Pete Jacobs, at one time, was pacing with Alaska Team TBB mate David Dellow. They were in a chika-pace. You could see either men grinning.

It was a pretty tough competition for the male pros. Towards the last 2 kilometres of the race, Courtney Atkinson was way ahead, and Pete Jacobs was catching up. Pete could have sprinted the last 2 kilometres or so to make it to the second spot, just a few seconds behind Atkinson.

In the photo (left to right): Ramon Pestaño, Nylah Bautista, Jeff Lo & Coach Ani de Leon-Brown

In the photo (left to right): Ramon Pestaño, Nylah Bautista, Jeff Lo & Coach Ani de Leon-Brown

I had the opportunity to cheer for my triathlete friends like Tess Leono, Ramon Pestaño, Jonah Rivera, Tito Don Causing, and pros like Jacqui Slack and Ben Allen, Belinda Granger and Justin Granger, Elite triathletes like Jenny Guerrero and Dhill Anderson Lee.

Having grown up in Cebu and being a Cebuano himself, Matteo Guidicelli had a huge following as well. People holding flaglets printed with his name were lined up along the run course.

The race was very festive. Students cheerily chanted everytime a racer passes by. Their positivity and their happy disposition radiated that you would feel energised. Indeed, the Cebuanos love the festive ambiance of the 70.3 Cobra Ironman Philippines.

Back at Shangri – La, we took our lunch after a pumped up race. It was only then that I felt tired. While waiting for the press presentations and the awarding, I can’t help it but take a power nap.

Later that afternoon, the awarding was held at the Shangri – La Mactan grounds, recognising the top five men and women in the Pro category, top three in the Filipino Elite, Age Group and Relay categories. Winners deserve the medals and trophies created by world – renowned designer Kenneth Cobonpue.

AMC Media Team

AMC Media Team

That night, we stayed at Be Hotel. Before retiring, I packed my bags just to be ready for the flight back to Manila early morning.Our flight was scheduled an hour later due to a long queue in the check in counter. I took the chance to pick a couple of baggage tags and a souvenir shirt at the Island Souvenir Shop before heading to the boarding area. The four day event was pretty hectic but it was worth all the efforts. The experience was one for the books. Tired but I had fun. I learned new things. I met new people. I rendezvoused with good friends. Can’t ask for more. And I can afford a really big Smile.

Big Thank You to AMC Team!


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