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Monday, June 25, 2012

My take on the Inaugrual Century Tuna 5i50 Triathlon

One of the most exciting things about the Century Tuna 5i50 Triathlon was that the race course was to most, a "mystery still to be revealed". Though true that some of the athletes got to do a recon of the bike course, I don't think anyone was really able to bike ride along the airport in practice. Moreover, I doubt if anyone was able to do the swim according to race specs. Only a handful of individuals were able to really try the course before actual race day and most of them were race officials led by Guy Concepcion, this year's Race Director.

This added to the lure of the race. The triathlon community is always in search of a new challenge and race course. This fueled a lot of speculation and deep curiosity on what Coach Guy Concepcion and his team would put together.

The Concepcion opus was magnum. Truly the best standard distance course ever designed in this country.

The 1.5km swim course was both a thrill and a technical challenge even to the well experienced. Everyone had to jump off the Hanjin Pier and into the water which was 90 feet deep, dark and cold. Sighting was also difficult as we had to swim towards the strong glare of the sun after doing a u-turn a few minutes into the swim. The bike was reward and punishment at once. A treat to every cyclist via the fast ride along the Container Terminal Road and on an actual Airport Runway. And punishment via the long climb to Ocean Adventure, the IDESS loop and the very steep 1km climb up the Tarlac road. The run course was a hot oven but very scenic. Pain and suffering married with thrill and addicting challenge. Hats off to Coach Guy and his team for a truly epic race course.

Deep water start
Arrival at the Venue

We arrived in Subic via convoy at around 830am and immediately got absorbed by the energy of the event. A giant banner greeted us at the gates of Subic. And as one drives into the Subic Bay Exhibits and Convention Center (SBECC), the energy grows even larger. Century Tuna, Alaska, Timex, Gatorade and many other sponsors went all out in creating the atmosphere of a world-class triathlon event that the 5i50 truly is.

Epicenter of the Century Tuna 5i50 - SBECC
Proud to be a sponsor of the 5i50.
With hardcore triathletes, Art Ifurung of Tri Clark Yellow Cab Team
and Mr Swim Bike Run himself, Carlo de Guzman
Claiming my Race Pack. Very organized.
Race pack collection is very efficient and the expo is a venue to see all the other triathletes and even the pros. This is what you see and experienc in world class events but this time, on local soil. The expo and media center treats the participants to first class event merchandise, services, freebies and gives the Century Tuna 5i50 a truly international feel.


I had to do a bit of work and attend the Presscon to introduce the Elite Athletes and to talk to the press about the event.

Doing a welcome speech as if anyone was listening.
Presscon with Mr Marcelo of SBMA, Fred Uytengsu of Alaska and Sunrise Events.

The Race Briefing and Carbo Loading Dinner is superior to any of the international triathlons I've had the opportunity of joining. I've been to Ironman West Australia, Ironman Langkawi and Ironman Korea and I can attest that the 5i50 here in Subic is far better in handling both activities. We even had a video to explain the race course thus giving participants a visual of the actual race course. Meanwhile, the food during the Carbo Load Dinner was restaurant grade. Tasty and in generous servings.

Team during the Carbo Load Dinner and Race Briefing

Tri Hard Team Captain Vic Magno with Ryan and George checking in their bikes.  

Race Day

Unlike most races here in the Philippines, the race start was not at an unholy time. 630 is a perfect start time to ensure that the water was still calm and that we'd all likely finish early enough to avoid the high noon heat. This also gave athletes the premium of a little extra time to sleep.

Angel Locsin look alike, Carol Lorenzo taking body marking.

Super Swimmer, Rob Papa (our secret weapon) checking his bike one last time.

I had a good night's sleep and had more than enough time for a light breakfast, morning rituals and still be at the race site by 5:20 or so. The line for body marking was once again very efficient and we were out of there in just a few minutes. All these small details frees athletes from unnecessary hassles and allows us to focus on the race. Given the point-to-point swim, we had to take a shuttle to Hanjin Port.

Triathletes getting High on Olongapo and the Event.

Marching off to war.
Hardcore Team - Tri Clark at the Swim Start Area


The promise of the swim to be a THRILL did not disappoint. Hanjin Port is a floating pier thus could only accomodate around 50 athletes at a time. We were made to jump into the cold, 90-foot deep water to avoid any mishaps with the pier. Triathletes started to crowd around the bouy lines or start treading quietly in the water. There was a thick air of anxiety amongst the crowd that had swelled minutes before race start. You could tell the newbies from the veterans as the vets were more calm and relaxed and the newbies chatty and nervous.

As the horn signalled the race start, a powerful energy was released and everyone pushed forward on attack mode. All the tensions, doubts, nervousness melted away as we all became 100% race machines.

I positioned myself in the middle of the pack and swam a conservative but very straight direction marked by the bouy lines. It felt like swimming along a school of fish as each one swam the initial straight then the u-turn and then the remaining 1,200 meters or so headed towards the beach. I am a sinker. 36 years of running does that to you. My bones are dense from all the pounding and my legs are packed with run muscles. But I was happy with my swim. 0:34 minutes. Typical of slow to moderate swimmers.

Transition 1 - that's what happens to your face when
you wear swim goggles for 30 minutes.
Doray Ellis of Team Fitness First leading the female swimmers.
 Is that Popo Remegio behind her?


This is were I tried to recover some of the distance. I kept a 33kph average and powered up the climbs. If you are from the Tri Hard Team, chances are you are a strong climber on the bike. Our coach and our team rides ensures this. I pass many of the faster swimmers and relished the painful but richly rewarding 6km climb up Ocean Advernture. I rode a conservative pace in the IDESS loop and played safe in the down hill rides. My only issue was that my gears weren't working. I couldn't shift to the small chain ring which is used for lighter pedalling. I ended up doing the both the Ocean Adventure and the dreaded Tarlac Road climb on heavy, big chain ring gears. Despite this, I felt strong.

Racing down Aparri Road
After the fast and fearful downhill rides along Aparri Road, I felt relieved and thanked God for keeping me safe from any accidents. I pushed the last 10k at speeds of 36kph++ average. Total bike time was around 1:26 hours.
Overall Runner Up and 3 time Olympian Csaba Cuttur of Hungary on the bike.
The Race Champion!

This is where I poured it on. I knew I was out of contention for podium given my conservative swim and safe bike ride but I enjoyed running as hard as I can until the "tank runs out". By this time, a lot of the guys were suffering already from the heavy toll of the climbs in the bike and the microwave heat on the run course. This is my hunting ground. I pushed hard and finished the 10k run in 0:51 minutes giving chase to anyone I saw in front of me.

Still had some left in the tank to push the run.

I was able to finish the tough course in under 3 hours. Total time including transitions was 2:59:43 hours.

Tri Clark Yellow Cab's Abe Tayag ripping the run course.

My Century Tri Hard Teammates

My team did very well in this race. Most notable were of course, our Coach George Vilog who placed 4th among the Pinoy elites with a time of 2:22 hrs. or so.

Ryan Marbella

As predicted, Ryan brought his A-game to the Century Tuna 5i50 Triathlon. He attacked the course with the audacity of youth and the confidence that he had a souped up engine from training religiously under the watchful eye of Coach George. Truly a 100% product of the GVT (George Vilog Training) methods.

Ryan after a powerful swim.
Ryan biking his way to the Podium

Podium Moment for Ryan. That's me awarding....
did I mention my company was title sponsor?

Ryan finished first in his Age Group and has officially entered the ranks of the Elite Age Groupers. A true Tri Warrior.

Ivan Fojas

Our Attack Specialist raced like a fanatic inspired! He powered his way through the swim, climbed the hills with superior horsepower and still had a lot left to kill in the run. He is certainly a man to watch in the coming 70.3 Ironman Cebu.

Ivan on Attack Mode! Tri Warrior Mode.

Mayi Maligaya

Our silent assasin killed once more. Very patiently swam the 1.5k calmly but surely then unleashing an awesome bike ride despite the hills and the fast flats. She then negotiated the oven-hot run with cold-blooded precision to secure 3rd place in her Age Group.
Mayi the Silent Assasin on the Podium.
Mayi's Trophy up close.
Samantha Allen

After a solid swim, Sam was doing well with the bike until her front wheel was clipped resulting in a crash. She ended up under a truck but was pulled out by good samaritans as the truck mindlessly started to move. Despite this, she soldiered on and in true Tri Warrior form and finished the race.

Tri Warrior Samantha

Our other women's team members finished and finished in style. Conquering the distance despite being tri newbies who only recently either didn't know how to swim or to bike.

Housewife and Miracle Woman, Elaine Andaya who conquered her
fear of biking to run to an unbelievable finish.

Finance Executive Vanj who only learned to swim
recently proving nothing is impossible.

Done with the race.....
Beer at the race finish line. Reward for a hard day's work.

I'm proud to be part of the Century Tuna Tri Hard Team.

Special mention for Lara Parpan

Lara flexing her superbod biceps. Photo also shows other Superbods winners
who took home as much cash as the Pinoy Elites.
This Editor in Chief of Women's Health Magazine stood proof that she lives her profession by not only finishing the tough race in Warrior fashion, she also bagged the runner up post for the Century Tuna Superbod special award.

Lara in action coming out of the water.
Congratulations to Princess Galura and Fred Uytengsu of Sunrise Events, Guy Concepcion and his team, Gela Gamboa of Century Canning and all the participants of the inaugural Century Tuna 5i50 Triathlon. Thanks to all the volunteers and to the SBMA.


  1. Enjoyed reading your account, Greg! You had a solid, amazing performance out there! Hope you, Chris, and Century Tuna continue supporting triathlon!

    1. Read it again! I added your pic!

    2. Yaaaah! Ha ha! =D Flattered! Pressured to train more so I can keep those biceps and muscles!

      Thanks a lot, Greg! See you at Cebu 70.3!

  2. great blog greg! i want to be like you when i grow up :) regards to raul and rene