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Monday, July 2, 2012

Tri United 2 - A Scorching Success!

For the hardcore triathlete or runner, the tougher the course, the greater the satisfaction. This is likely the reason why the full Ironman event was even invented. To create a race that tests the physical, mental and emotional limits of the endurance athlete. The full distance is a 3.8k swim, 180k bike and a full marathon 42.195k run in succession. Truly a suffer-fest.

The same goes for the Ultramarathon. Ranging from 50k to 150k or more of running.

I've seen both up close. As a participant in Ironman events and as a support crew for our teammate, Ultramarathoner and Ironman, Vinny Tongson. It is pure carnage on the course. But once you finish one, it is a badge of honor that you can look back to and relish the thought of having overcome a challenge of that MAGNITUDE.

The Unilab Long Distance Triathlon yesterday, entitled "Tri United 2 (it's a series of three events in a year and this one was the second) was not of Ironman proportions but I think it gave the participants a flavor of the type and level of suffering....okay, okay...let's call it "challenge" one goes through when doing an Ironman. It was roughly 39 degrees C and I wouldn't be surprised if it even peaked at 40 degrees as early as 9am. This is when the faster athletes began their run. The intense heat, the climbs when your legs are as heavy as logs and the distance that still needed to be covered reminded me of Ironman Malaysia.

Fortunately, the distance for Tri United 2 is quite manageable. The swim was 2km, the bike was a rolling 60k and the run was a 15k but spiced with punishing climbs at the 2.5k, 7.5k and 12.5k juncture of the run (it was three loops). The heat though felt like we were in a microwave on high setting. I felt it slowly creep up on the athletes as early as the bike course. My face was cooking by the 35th kilometer of the ride and I needed to douse myself with whatever water I could get from the race marshalls and aid stations. It then got ugly during the run. It was so hot that the residents along the run course took it upon themselves to set up "buhos" stations where they would voluntarily pour tubs of water on the suffering runners. That's Pinoy hospitality and bayanihan at work. If it weren't for these good Samaritans, I probably would have slowed down or even walked the run portion of the race.

The very hip Landco project, Playa Laiya was the venue for this year's Tri United. It was a perfect venue given it's pristine beach, understated but luxurious resort facilities and accessibility from Manila. With the SLEX and STAR tollways now connected, the trip only took 2 hours. Upon entering the Playa Laiya, the feel at the clubhouse is so breathtaking, you forget you're there for a triathlon.

Playa Laiya Beach Front

As I mentioned in my last blog, registration for this race increased over 100% from last year. Triathletes from as far as Cagayan de Oro flew in to do this "tune up" race as a guage for the coming Ironman 70.3 Cebu. There were so many triathletes headed the for Laiya that day. You wouldn't need a map to find the place. Just follow the cars with bikes racked on them.

Swells were high the day before and during the shorter distance, Sprit Triathlon the previous day. As such, much rumours were circulating about the waves in Playa. However, this was abrumptly resolved on race day when God decided to gift us with the blessing of great weather.

Pre-race day swells that got everyone spooked. 2km swim in this?
The Covergirls and Coverboys - PLDT Team. Co-organizers of Tri United.
Notice the water much calmer. Pati yun, they organized? Galing talaga.
The Bullrunner, Jaymie Pizarro with Celebrity Drew Arellano and
National Duathlon Treasure, August Benedicto.

Any "violence" in the swim was not from nature. It was from the swim crazy triathlon age groupers who pushed the pace at the onset of the race.

After the 3-loop 2km swim, it was off to the bikes. This was pleasant and comfortable during the first loop of the bike but it quickly turned hot by loop two of the 60k ride. Additionally, the rollers along the bike course made it extra tough but most bikers still pushed their race hard as they went on  "breakneck" speed.

Senator Pia on her bike. Pinay in Action.

Upcoming Tri Superstar, Ralph Lorenzo
Tri Superman Javy Olives of the Unilab Active Health Team
The run is the great equalizer. Sometimes runners can out sprint competiton even if they pulled away in the swim and bike. This is the portion where the sun was unforgiving and the situation made worst by the hills at the mid point of each run loop. The elite athletes of course tore the course apart.

Race Champion, Matt from Canada
If Canada has Matt...we have the Don.
The Tri Mafioso, Don Velasco
Super Woman, Monica Torres flying through the run course with a lethal run.
Man and Machine - Man is TV Celebrity, Drew Arellano surviving the heat,
Machine is Meyo Rodriguez. Di tinatablan ng heat. eager to run, she forgot to remove her bike gloves?
Bobby Go in the House!

For the rest of us, it was "survival mode" during the run portion. Some athletes collapsed, some threw up, many were like zombies wishing for the race to end already given the heat, fatigue, hunger. I personally used the bike and run portions to catch up from my slow swim (as usual) and salvage a slot on the podium. 3rd place for my Age Group to be exact. I wanted to give up because of the intense heat but I promised myself I'd Warrior this out and so I did.

Catch up mode on the bike.
3rd Place in the AG and Finisher Medal.

Super Hot Run.....Warrior Spirit nalang lumalaban....

Good for Podium
All Smiles after the Race. I love this sport.
Congratulations to my other teammates who Podiumed - Grace, Ivan and RJ. And all of us who finished the race despite the waves, the heat, the dogs on the road. Congrat to Unilab for a great event and to the organizers led by Raul Cuevas.

PLDT/Bike King at the Post Race Tent

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