NINE triathletes from Cebu who are regular competitors in the local races have touched down in Taiwan; all but one of them will race their first full Ironman in the inaugural Ironman Taiwan in the Kenting, Hengchun Township this Sunday.
Cebu’s Lorhiz Echavez-Lopez will lead the Cebuano team as she competes in the in the women’s 30 to 34 age class.
Joining her are Merdino Jose Lim in the men’s 35 to 39 bracket; Gianluca Guidicelli in the men’s 50 to 54 age group; Dindo Arcenas in the men’s 55 to 59 years old; Joseph Mata Laride in the men’s 40 to 44 class; Rachel Penales Ngo and Virgina Besabella Janea in the women’s 40 to 44 years old; Anna Maria Neric in the women's 50 to 54; and Irineo Alano Cases in the men’s 30 to 34 years old.
They are gearing up for the daunting 3.8-kilometer swim, 180K bike and 42.2K run course of full the Ironman.
Eight of them will be doing the full Ironman for the first time; while it will be the second full distance for Guidicelli, the father of actor Matteo Guidicelli, who did the Ironman Melbourne last year.
For Lopez, a top-tier local triathlete and who recently received the Sportswriters Association of Cebu citation award for triathlon, racing in the full Ironman feels like chasing a dream.
“After almost six years of participating in triathlons, I want to take it up to the next level,” Lopez said, who started racing in 2007 but had to stop for two years after giving birth.
Lopez admitted that when she started racing in Cebu, finishing a full Ironman was never in her wildest dreams. But as time passed, she eventually dreamed of finishing one.
And now that it is close to becoming a reality, Lopez and the rest of the team decided to go head on with the preparation.
“We (all nine triathles) started a 20-week program together for this race. I only faltered on the last month because of work priorities.”Lopez said. “Our goal in this one is to finish safe within the cut off time.”
As posted on the event's website, the swim course will be closed two hours and 20 minutes from the start of the race; the bike will be closed after 10 hours and 30 minutes. There will be a 17-hour cut-off time for the whole race.
“The route is difficult, the bike segment has uphills and downhills and the gust of the wind reaches up to 52kph. This is a challenging race for us,” Lopez said.
The event is a World Championship qualifying race, with 25 slots at stake for the 2015 Ironman World Championships in Kaliua Kona, Hawaii.
A maximum of 1,600 racers in the age group and pro ranks are expected to converge in the starting area.