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Thursday, August 22, 2019

After Ironman drama in Cebu ‘Best race so far’

VICTORIOUS, NOT VICIOUS, CYCLE. For the 90K bike leg, about 2,500 triathletes had to cross Mandaue-Mactan Bridge 6 times in the Regent Aguila 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championships. (Sunstar foto / Arni Aclao)

DESPITE the drama in the buildup of the 2018 Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championship, everything turned out better than expected.

“Overall, it was a resounding success and perhaps our best race yet,” said Sunrise Events Inc. (SEI) owner Fred Uytengsu.

Less than six weeks before the international race, SEI had to change its usual course for the bike leg, which included the South Road Properties (SRP), after Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña barred them from using it to avoid adding to the heavy traffic caused by the construction of an underpass on N. Bacalso Ave.

It, however, was a blessing in disguise as SEI got rave reviews for the new course.

“You know, sometimes you get lucky and you find a new course, and so we might stay with the course that we have. I don’t know if we need them,” said Uytengsu, on the possibility of working with Cebu City in bringing back the old course.

“There are many good things in the course and a couple of things that we will change. I think we need to do our homework and find out what we can do with the course we have now to make it even better. But the feedback I get is very positive.”

SEI General Manager Princess Galura shared the same and said that everything went well, including the cool weather conditions.

“We are very happy because we were very scared about how the participants would view the bike course. So it’s a big relief that they found it very good. A lot of people were saying that the course was fast and that they liked it. Although a little bit hard, because it was more technical than the previous course, at least with the age groupers. We have found an alternative course,” she said.

“A lot of people say this is the best race, this is the best medal, these are the best conditions. After all the Cebu drama, we end up with a happy ending.”

Men’s pro champion Mauricio Mendez and women’s pro champion Radka Kahlefeldt were both pleased with how the race went, from its organization down to the spectators.

“This is a world-class event. Every single event that Sunrise makes they make us feel like we’re part of it, like we are family,” said Mendez. “We had a lot of support from all the marshals and everybody out there.”

“Exactly, a world-class event,” said Kahlefeldt. “I’m so excited to come back.”

Tabuelan Mayor Rex Gerona, who competed in the 45-49 age group, was all praises for how the event proceeded.

“I like the bike ride in this race. Even though we had to come back a couple of times, I like it because it’s flat. It was easier and there were a lot of people on the side of the road,” he said. “It was a well-organized event. I can’t say anything bad about it. It was great and the weather was very good.”

The oldest athlete in the race, 82-year-old Garth Barfoot of New Zealand, was all smiles even though he failed to finish the race.

Personal experience

“The water is very clear, I was quite surprised. And the road is very smooth but the run was too hard for me,” said Barfoot, who has been competing in triathlons for the past 24 years. “You can tell they have been organizing events for 10 years because it runs very smoothly, very experienced.”

Barfoot completed the 1.8-kilometer swim and the 90-kilometer bike ride before calling it quits halfway into the 21-kilometer run.

“I’m really exhausted. I had a very good swim, a fairly good bike but on the run, I ran out of energy and had to give up halfway,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza apologized to commuters who were affected by the road closure.

“I want to ask for the people’s apology. It was a misunderstanding; it’s a total road closure but there is a part that opens and closes just for emergency purposes,” said Radaza.

Aside from some disgruntled commuters, the 10th Ironman race in Cebu was close to perfect, according to organizers and most participants.


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