Top guns weigh in

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014


CEBU is not just the home of the Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines for the past three years, it is also where some of the top triathletes in the county reside. And this year marks the end of the event’s contract with Cebu.

As of the moment, Sunrise Events Inc. (SEI) could not give a final answer as to whether they will extend the contract with Cebu or not.

SEI CEO Fred Uytengsu said last Sunday that as long as Cebu can assure that the roads will be fixed by next year, then there will be a fourth Ironman 70.3 in Cebu.

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In the latest staging of the event last Sunday in Lapu-Lapu City, Cebuano triathletes raised Cebu’s banner after pulling off impressive finishes in the Filipino elite and relay categories, and all of them hope that a fourth staging will still be held here.

John Philip Dueñas of Isuzu D-Max and Parklane’s Kristiane Lim placed second and third, respectively, in the loaded men’s Filipino elite, while Omega Pro’s Lorhiz Echavez-Lopez and Cianyl Gonzalez were top four and five in the women’s Filipino elite.

Milo Marathon Finals record holder Mary Joy Tabal and the 2014 Olango open water swim Challenge champion Keith Ocampo of University of San Carlos (USC) topped the mixed relay with teammate Mayor PinPin Uy of Dipolog.

For Lopez, who’s into triathlon since 2007, it was the toughest race she has ever joined.

“It was really a tough race course. The bike was not for the faint-hearted due to strong winds, cross-winds and terrible road conditions towards the SRP. The only thing that kept me going, though, was the cheering crowd. Cebu has the best audience for triathlon; not a stretch in the entire route was a dull moment,” said Lopez.

“If the local goverment units (LGU) and Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) promise to fix the roads, then I think Cebu will get one more shot at hosting the event. I would like it to still be held in Cebu for so many reasons one of them is that we already experienced the new race course so we can train better and try to simulate the head winds,” she added.

Dueñas added that holding the event in Cebu will make it easier for the organizers because of the accessibility.

“It will be easier for the organizers because it is accessible to all participants,” Dueñas said. “Cebu has an international airport, hotels, a great venue with the perfect course for swim, bike and run. Not to mention a very supportive Cebuano community.”

There had been several feedbacks about the bike route, which was affected by the road rehabilitation in Cebu City.

Lim said he encountered challenges along the route last Sunday but considered it as part of the competition that made the race memorable.

“Overall, it was a good race. There were elements that we had no control over like the brutal winds. But the potholes in the bike route were patched up making it like a spring classic race on cobblestones. The rugged terrain towards SRP was an extra challenge,” Lim said.

“I think they just need to improve the surface of the transition area and the road surface so there will less congestion and will make for a better bike course,” he added.

Tabal said that the Ironman 70.3 hosting will help boost Cebu’s tourism.

“It will help boost our tourism because of the huge number of tourists who travel just to watch the event,” said Tabal.

For the 21-year-old Gonzalez, should the event be held here again, the impact on the local triathlon community would be huge.

“The local triathlon community will definitely grow bigger than it already is . I already have friends telling me they are planning to join next year if it is still held here.

Princess Galura of SEI said should the DPHW finish in time, it might pave way for a new record in the Ironman 70.3 Philippines as they target to attract 2,750 participants in 2015.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 06, 2014.

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