Local triathlon gets further boost as top Asian multisport brand TRI-Factor holds the third leg of its Asian Championship series in Camarines Sur in May with a slew of rising and leading triathletes in the region expected to see action.
Put up to provide multisport beginners, enthusiasts, and veteran triathletes or even kids a venue to hone their talent and skills in swimming, biking, and running, the TRI-Factor have grown from organizing multi-sport events in Singapore to creating the premier short-course championship series across the Asian region.
It features kids triathlon (100m swim-5K bike-1K run), freshmen triathlon (200m swim-10K bike-2K run), sprint triathlon (750m swim-20K bike-5K run), standard triathlon (1.5K swim-40K bike-10K run) and long triathlon (1.5K swim-60K bike-15K run).
“We’re pleased to announce the TRI-Factor Asian Championship series with new races in the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and China. Our purpose is to provide our athletes diverse race options throughout the year, catering to the specific needs of the athletes across Asia,” said Elvin Ting, managing director of organizing Orange Room Pte Ltd. and Tri-Factor series founder.
The 2018 Asian Championship series will kick off in Singapore on April 22 then to China on May 13 before action shifts to the Philippines on May 25 to 27 at the CamSur Watersports Complex in Camarines Sur.
The TRI-Factor is also staged to promote an active and healthy lifestyle, particularly among the youth, and its Asian Championship leg will be held here for two years— 2018 and 2019, where hosting of more events including new race formats like Cycle-Run-Cycle are being looked into. Its staging in the country comes at a time when local triathlon is enjoying tremendous boom with top-notch events held regularly across the country in the last few years.
“Tri-Factor’s coming to the Philippines would be a great opportunity and new challenge for the newbies to engage in triathlon and pioneer triathletes to take the opportunity of racing in other parts of Asia especially in China under a different triathlon format. I’m looking forward to be in both the Philippine and China legs of Tri-Factor and I am really excited to go back to CWC, which is a great venue for a triathlon,” shared Taguig Congresswoman and triathlete Pia Cayetano upon learning about Tri-Factor’s arrival in the Philippines.
Founded in 2009, TRI-Factor is aimed at building a community and culture of Asian athletes racing with the region with its short distances and secured courses allowing beginners to master swimming, cycling, and running and prepare them for the regular triathlon events. Each TRI-Factor race finish gives athletes points counting toward a year-end ranking. For the Asian Championship series, each race will be assigned a Race Course index depending on the degree of difficulty where points awarded will be multiplied with the index, allowing athletes to rack up bigger points at the tougher races.
Titles at stake are the Series Asian, Best Country Athlete of the Year, Best Country Junior Athlete of the Year, Best Veteran Country Athlete of the Year, Top First-Timer Athlete, and Top First-Timer Junior Athlete.
Earlier this year the invite came from runner-blogger and Busan-based Del aka Argonaut Quest, who advised me that the best time to go to Busan, South Korea would either be in April in time to see those beautiful sakura flowers blossoming just about everywhere, or in the autumn months between October and November where leaves are changing from the vibrant greens of summer to a colorful palette of yellow, orange, red, and cooling temperatures. I was a bit hesitant to say yes not because I didn’t want to, but because of some important stuff.
Since triathlon (tri) off-season was also underway, a few weeks off from my last big races would mean some time doing other activities, eg household chores, filing stuff, and a lot of catching up on life. But what the heck! The call to come to Gurye (pronounced gu-re or gu-ræ) to support teammate Raffy’s IRONMAN (IM) Gurye quest at the same time get to watch the IM event was too much to ignore that I found myself securing needed documents, crossing my fingers that I could get through the dreaded visa process. To my surprise, getting one was not bad at all. Funny, too, the flights were booked way ahead of time. Super thanks to Tri Taft and Team Ninja Jerome for making it possible for Raffy and me. Well, I got mine just a few hours earlier than that of teammate Raffy. Obviously, wasn’t too excited, right? Yay!
The send-off party attended by Endure teammates and some friends put Raffy in a good mood days before the trip. The occasion was also made extra special in a way that only a videoke can! The final night before flight next day, I still managed to sneak time to meet Endure teammates Jemai and Vic for Raffy’s IM finisher’s poster including helmet and bike stickers. Super thanks, Jemai and Vic!
Everything went well as planned. We were picked up from Busan airport right on time by Del, or around 8 PM local time. Manila is one hour behind Busan. Then we immediately went to his place for a quick stop to bring our luggage in. Del was letting us stay in his place during our short visit in Busan.
It was a good idea to start the night with a short walk. Seeing the lights and buildings, my initial impression of life in Busan was the city had a more laid back atmosphere and perhaps a more beautiful city at night than it was during the day. We visited a nearby restaurant for Thursday dinner and enjoyed a spicy Korean soup with rice, fish and kikiam cakes partnered with (to my relief) fried chicken, potato fries, and cola drink. Super thanks Del for the welcome dinner. Simple things yet they have transformed our arrival in Busan extra special.
We agreed to do a short run around the nearby area early next day. Del maintained a daily routine that is, squeezing in some morning run workouts before going to work. Who could resist such cool morning where the sun added an unbelievable light to the already foggy mountain range. I so wanted to stop running for a few minutes to savor the view, but I didn’t want to lose sight of Del and Raffy who were running ahead of me. The partly shaded flat run around the block worked wonders, which eventually led us to Eulseok Island, a paradise for migratory birds and happened to be home to one of the most runner or cyclist friendly paths in the city. The amazing view would always be imprinted on my mind.
We left Busan on Friday evening for Gurye and had a short stop to grab something to eat at a restaurant along the expressway. County Gurye is a two and a half to three-hour drive from Busan. We arrived late in the evening to our hotel, and soon as we stepped out of the car, we were greeted by the chilly mountain air. After some initial confusion about our reservation, the staff at the front desk immediately sorted it out with smiles and a bit of humor. Visiting Gurye for the first time, I found the locals to be quite friendly and helpful. “This is it!” I said to myself. I would have to wear many hats in the next two days—as a teammate, support crew, cheerer, overseer, spectator athlete, la la la. We went to our rooms and decided to meet up early next day (and in our minds) to officially kickoff race weekend.
We all got up early on Saturday morning and headed to the swim venue for the official swim practice. I was mesmerized by the breathtaking views of the town of Gurye. It was simply amazing! It was a cold foggy morning at Jirisan Lake, and the fog looked like steam rising off from the lake water.
As participants trickled in, some were engaged in conversation and others were busy changing into their wetsuits. I saw familiar faces including friends Maximus owner coach Andy, RaceDay Triathlon Monching, recent Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® or UTMB CCC finisher Erick, Jay, and Doc Art among others. Swim practice didn’t take long for Raffy, except for Del who decided to swim, well, almost the full course. Whoa! Go, Del!
After the swim, we had to meet some members of the Philippine IM Gurye KOREA delegation for a quick photo op, and the four of us then proceeded to claim race kits at the race expo. There were clearly people that had arrived at the expo, which was at another location accessible either by walking or by car.
The expo where participants pick up their race packets, have photo ops, register or listen to race briefing, is a triathlete’s dream place. Couldn’t help but feel a twinge of envy after seeing Raffy’s, Del’s, and Yap’s race kits. In my mind, “I wish I were a participant, omgee!” LOL to myself. Kit claiming is one of my favorite race-day moments. In Gurye it was orderly, organized, and most importantly, it happened real quickly. We got the opportunity to take some time to check out race items and see what the vendors had to offer. After all, it was not a bit silly to try other goodies on offer, and they were reasonably priced, too. And if you were lucky enough, you could even get a substantial or good discount. The guys bought some race essentials and IM Gurye mementos. We also watched a bit of the IRONKIDS Gurye wave start.
Since all bikes and transition bags must be racked on Saturday, after having brunch, we went back to the hotel to prepare the bikes and pack gear and transition bags for check-in later in the afternoon. Del drove his car so he and I could go straight to the gear/bike check-in area, while Raffy and Yap biked their way to the expo to see a bike mechanic for last minute bike checkup.
I stayed at the waiting area or near the M dot for Del to rack up his bike and gear first, then I scanned the crowd to check whether Raffy or Yap had already arrived. From afar, I watched officials checked helmets as athletes entered the transition area. It took sometime before Raffy and Yap could join us. It turned out, Raffy’s bike was thoroughly checked for other mechanical problems. Once everyone was done, we all headed back to our hotel and opted to go out again to have an early dinner.
Raffy and I joined Greenhills Tri James at a nearby local restaurant frequented by some Pinoy triathletes. Del and Yap opted to check out foods from other restaurants. Afterwards, Raffy and I joined Del and Yap, and together we bought some groceries at a nearby convenient store.
Raffy and I went back to our hotel to prepare other race essentials: (1) race number tattoo, checked; (2) transition bag for special needs, checked; (3) timing chip, checked; (4) wetsuit, checked; (5) goggles and cap, checked; (6) outfit of the day (OOTD) pre-race, checked; and, (7) OOTD post-race, checked. We agreed for an early night on Saturday to get that well-deserved rest because we had a BIG day planned for next day, but Raffy had difficulty falling asleep. My thoughts, “I so can relate. Race jitters here you go!” Deep breathing exercise didn’t help him either. I just said to Raffy this, “Don’t worry about bad sleep; having good sleep days before the trip is what matters. Being a little nervous for tomorrow’s race means you cared about your performance and have put in a lot of hard training to prepare.”
The day has finally arrived!
On race morning, Raffy and I availed of the hotel’s breakfast, which was specially prepared for IM participants. It was a fairly early start as we all had to travel to race venue with a bit of time for the guys to check their gear in the transition area. Race suit on, transition bag ready, bike Tomoe race ready, I believe Raffy was focused. A good sign!
The early dawn silence was suddenly broken by the booming and energetic voice of IM race announcer. In a few hours, the starting line would soon be filled with that too-pumped feeling, pre-race jitters, and adrenaline! Looking up at the sky, it was cloudless, clear, and purely beautiful. I told Del about it and was a bit surprised when he replied, “Just wait. It would be foggy in a few minutes.” Finally, it was time for them to go to start!
From afar, I could see IM officials supervising all participants during the self-seeding for age-group rolling start. It was like watching penguins congregating at the water’s edge since most athletes wore wetsuits, and diving one by one into the cold water. In reality, one by one racers jumped off the dock to get round the first buoy. Then what Del said earlier happened. The fog crept by and had slowly enveloped the swim course. Not more than ten minutes after the race had started; a swimmer had veered completely off course, and tried to go back while kayak safety marshals looked on. A few minutes later, two swimmers asked to be rescued and were aided by race marshals at the dock. I think, it was a DNF for these two athletes.
I could hardly see anyone out there in the water now. Even kayak marshals and the biggest IM buoy disappeared into the fog. It wasn’t too cold, but the evaporation fog over the lake made it look like a scene from a movie where a predator could come out any time soon of the mist in front of us. Then came emcee’s voice on the mic again announcing that the swim might be cut short to bring the swimmers to safety due to the thick fog. Spectators muttered as he was announcing this. As I watched the scene before me, I prayed hard for the safety of the participants and my friends. After a few seconds, perhaps an answered prayer, emcee’s voice came again and jubilantly announced that the swim would continue after all! We cheered and clapped our hands! I was positioned for a good view of athletes as they came out of the water. Spectators encouraged participants with cheers. I saw who came out first. It was a Caucasian, perhaps from the US. Then followed by more athletes now out of the water. I stood there for almost two hours and waited not only for Raffy, but also for other friends to come out of the water. And, when they finally did, it was a huge relief!
In the next moment, who would have thought that you could hear the emcee shouting an athlete’s name followed by a dialect of your own language in this foreign land, “Philippines! Astiiiiiig!” LOL! By the way, there were over a hundred Pinoys who joined this year’s IM Gurye Korea, third biggest contingent, if I were not mistaken. Thanks to Tri Taft JR Hizon for doing much of the coordination and for making this possible for our Pinoy triathletes. Also, great thanks to Yap for leaving his pocket WiFi with me. Because of it, I was able to share race-day highlights to Endure teammates in Manila.
Except for tidbits or stories shared by friends, I couldn’t say much for the bike leg. “Bike course wasn’t that too easy. It was like riding two Tagaytays,” according to coach Andy.“I was emotional and I even cried when family back home came into mind,” Raffy said. “I was careful while riding down the hills,” Del shared. And Yap said, “The best!”
After the swim leg, decided to walk to the other side of the lake to meet briefly coach Andy’s Mom and family who stayed at a place called Guest House Hotel. Spent time with them over a quick late breakfast then went back to my hotel to rest while the competitors were still on their bikes. The athlete IM tracker was a huge help to track my friends’ standing in the race including expected time to finish. Getting back to race venue or finish area was not a problem since shuttle bus services were made available until midnight on that day.
I arrived at the race venue at half past three in the afternoon, and positioned myself near the 17K/30K turnaround point so it would be easier for me to spot incoming athletes. Almost all participants looked so strong despite having had to finish biking a 180-kilometer distance. The 42-km run race was still on, and you’d never know what could possibly happen in the next few fours.
Finally, saw Raffy as he was approaching the 17-km mark and cheered on him. On the second time he was about to turn around it, having reached the 30-km distance, and as I was about to take a video of him to update teammates when suddenly he stopped running only to tell me he felt dizzy. Of course, in IM tri you couldn’t lend extra help to a participant for this would mean a DQ or DNF. I did try to seek help from the marshal, but the language barrier did not help. Looking at it positively, I believe it was a blessing for my asking help made Raffy continue his run. Though a bit worried for Raffy, my assessment was Raffy’s overworked muscle was getting into him. He was exhausted. I could see that. But it was up to him now. IRONMAN, as an endurance sport, is also mental. It’s mind over matter now for Raffy. From where I stood, I saw him ate something at the aid station, and ran again. Crossing my fingers and knowing how much Raffy prepared for this, I never for one reason or another doubted his capability to reach the finish line. He would be OK.
With only over 12 kilometers to go, expected time to finish was about sub-15 hours. A block away from the finish arch, I positioned myself at the corner. Readied the poster that teammate Jemai prepared for Raffy. With only 30 minutes to go, Raffy would, finally, be an IRONMAN! In those minutes, I kept shouting at the passing runners to cheer on them shouting, “You’re stronger than you think you are! You’re about to be an IRONMAN, go, go, go! Girl power! Your running form is still OK, you can do this! Still running strong!” It was like a litany while waiting for Raffy to arrive. In that moment, while watching them, a realization dawned on me that it was easier to be out there racing than to patiently wait. Omgee! LOL!I reminded myself, “RD, patience is a virtue.”
Finally, I spotted him a few meters back, he was slouching already and looked tired. As soon as he was near enough from where I was seated, I opened the tarp for him to see. Written on it was “IRONMAN (his complete name) CONGRATS! From your team ENDURE for conquering IRONMAN Gurye KOREA 09.10.17!” Entirely, I’ve noticed his stance changed. Now that was what I call second wind. I was running alongside him on the sidewalk now while holding the tarp, too excited and shouted, “Almost there … IRONMAN, ka na! Woohoo! Congrats!” till he reached the red carpet at the finish line. From outside the corral near the finish arch, I stood there waiting for the emcee to announce his name ending with these words, “… you’re an IRONMAN!” He crossed the finish line with a pretty impressive time for a first-time finisher! Nothing was easy, but anything was possible.
I was feeling happy during the race and I believe it had something to do with the fact that I was part of something big. Though some close friends back home thought that I would be racing full IM, no, not this time, not yet. My task has officially ended. Mission accomplished. Now I could finally relax and remove my invisible support crew hat.
Congratulations to all Pinoy triathletes who participated in year’s inaugural IM Gurye Korea! Kudos to IM Gurye Korea organizers, event partners, volunteers, cheerers, Gurye residents and officials, and to the many people for a job well done. You guys, rock! See you next time! Gurye saranghæ! Busan saranghæ!
I raced this event as my first triathlon (tri) back in June 2016; and by complete surprise, landed third place in age group! The inaugural Sunrise Sprint or S2 was a 750m open water swim + 20km bike + 5-km run, a side event of Regent 5150 Triathlon sponsored by Regent Foods Corporation and was hosted in Subic Bay, Zambales.
I had been eyeing the Cobra 70.3 IRONMAN in Cebu 2016 so this sprint tri was never part of my preparation and repertoire prior to the big day in August. But two of my Endure teammates, Raffy and Clark, including Jerome, a Tri Taft member and good friend, encouraged me to register for a sprint tri so I could experience triathlon firsthand and familiarize myself, especially, at transition points considered crucial links in the outcome of a tri race. Their efforts were not put in vain.
Made a few new friends as well and saw old ones during race kit claiming. After I checked in my equipment and had myself body numbered, I walked around at the expo and immersed myself in the excitement and nerves before race day. Later in the afternoon, it was a total cool experience seeing a sea of nice bikes during the mandatory check-in at the transition area. The group decided to forgo attending race briefing and opted to go back to the hotel and get an early night instead in preparation for next day’s event.
Before the race started, as I was heading towards the beach area, I chanced to walk and chat with professional IRONMAN triathlete Dimity Lee-Duke of Australia who raced the standard distance. I asked her if she ever get nervous before every race. She was kind enough to answer the question by sharing her own experience as a beginner triathlete, and gave me these encouraging words, “Give your best. Fear is natural but you have to conquer it. Just have fun!”
While waiting for our wave start (all women), I’ve never been more nervous in my life than seeing the 750-meter rectangular course. The sprint swim course started at the ACEA beach following a counter clockwise flow. It was far too nerve-wracking for someone who transitioned from training in a pool to racing in open water after such long years and swim in a “washing machine” or in a pack of a more experienced triathletes. Well, the distance looked longer than in the pool and the buoys were too far! I had no choice but to meet the challenge head on. The countdown began with ten seconds to go and then we were off. Trust your training was my last thought before plunging into the water.
Swimming in a pack can get a little rough when you could be hit by swinging arms and kicking feet or climbed over by faster swimmers, which made it difficult to race at your best sometimes. At the start of the swim, it was like we were one large school of fish trapped in fishing net, swimming about, seemingly trying to escape. By the time I reached the first buoy, that moment felt like I had been overtaken by everyone and so I felt the need to strategize. I stopped for a few seconds to tread water and sight. I even managed to shout jokingly, “Ang lapad-lapad ng dagat nagsisikipan tayo!” Of course, no one was paying attention to what I said because most were swimming frantically in an endeavor to reach the shoreline and finish ahead of the cut-off time. Towards the end of the lap, I had settled into a rhythm and swimming like it was one typical Sunday morning. I tried as much to slash seconds off my race time by doing a quick change gear at transition 1.
The bike course was relatively flat with slight ups and downs but no major climbs to worry about. A major section of the race took place at the airport runway. It was a bit too windy that day. Bike leg ended in Remy Field where transition 2 was located. All I could recall during the bike leg was I was trying to move at a speedy and steady pace, pedaling to catch up and overtake other cyclists to compensate for time consumed during the swim. Just wanted cycling done and over with so I could finally do the run. It was a glorious day for a triathlon with the sun shining bright. A number of standard and sprint distance participants were already running by the time I reached transition 2. Running off the bike can be uncomfortable. It was for me, initially. My legs so heavy and I felt a little discomfort. It took ten to fifteen minutes before things started to feel right. The sides of the street were lined with spectators who cheered and shouted to say the names of their friends or family. I only made a quick stop at the aid station near the turnaround point and kept going for the last few kilometers to the finish. A foreigner guy was clapping his hands and cheering for me as I neared the finish line. Saw the finish line arch, crossed it, and then it was over. I completed my first tri!
We stayed a few hours to wait for the others to join us, went for food, claimed our bikes and walked back to our hotel to pack and rest. I was taking a shower when Endure teammates Clark and Raffy excitedly shouted from outside that I won. Inside the bathroom, I was wondering how they could know about it so quickly. They even knocked on the door asking me to finish real fast and go back to the venue ASAP. Another teammate Dido also won in his age group. Fellow blogger Vimz aka Kulit Runner of Sunrise Events also sent me a message that I won. By the time we reached the venue, my name was already called and I was not able to go up on the podium to accept my award. Never really expected that I would win (finishing 3rd in age group) that day!
Race results showed I was second-to-last to exit the water or 9th out of 10 competitors in my age group. I finished the 20-km bike in a little over an hour (1:06:47) and finished my run in 33:10 minutes. I placed 29th out of 69 female participants and 137th overall out 236 sprint participants. For a first-time “triathlete” … not bad at all! I owed this win to my Endure teammates and “Team Ninja” for their support and encouragement. Most importantly, to Him who made this possible. This race will be forever etched in my memories as one of my best tri races! Congratulations to all finishers and winners of this race. Kudos to the organizers, volunteers, and community for such a top notch race! Till next time!
Century Tuna’s Superbods: The Underpants Run returns for the third time! Happening on March 11 at 9:30 AM, the fun run kicks off at Subic Bay Yacht Club to take runners through a scenic route along the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.
Inspired by the tradition at Kona, home of the renowned Ironman World Championship, Century Tuna continues its own local fun tradition with the Superbods Underpants Run. Started as a pre-race activity for the Century Tuna Ironman 70.3 back in 2015, it has since then made headlines when it brought some of the world’s super athletes racing alongside superbods finalists and raised funds for a cause.
This year, Century Tuna invites everyone to come to Subic Bay as it opens the race to anyone who wishes to showcase their superbod fitness. Individual runners get a chance to win P 15,000 while groups of four can vie for the P 20,000 prize. Century Tuna will also be giving away P 15,000 to the individual and P 20,000 to the group with the most inspired costume. Loot bags with tons of exciting freebies, and finisher shirts are up for grabs for the first 150 finishers.
Interested to join Century Tuna Superbods: The Underpants Run? Register for free at the Century Tuna Booth at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center on March 10 and at the Subic Bay Yacht Club on March 11.