The Rock Conquered: Aquathlon Challenge

It was a feeling of trepidation for the nth time. Being an aquathlon participant was not part of my plan this year. At some point, I did email the organizer that it was a no-go for me. However, the organizer emailed me back to tell me that registration was extended.

The spirit of camaraderie as well as the support from the group of fellow runners is the reason why I said, “Yes,” for this race. Tough decision, as I had to consider my mileage for swimming—which was a real boo for me. The last swim I had before this race was after the QCIM simulation run, just barely a one-kilometer swim. Not enough for this competition. So I just consoled myself to finish the race no matter what or even if I end up as the last swimmer, it doesn’t matter.

The group met at the Cultural Center of the Philippines terminal. Some friends were already there as early as 5:30AM. We boarded Sun Cruises ship at around ten minutes before 7AM. Inside the ship, I saw quite a number of aquathlon participants. At the far end were AMCI mountaineers who would be staying in the island for their orienteering activity. I couldn’t sleep during the whole trip due to moderately choppy waters. I couldn’t even appreciate what the tour guide was saying. For me, it was one of the longest trips I’ve ever had en route to the island.

We arrived exactly one hour and twenty-five minutes. The water was calm, looked very promising, and not too intimidating. But when we went to the other side, we saw big waves. It was the area where everyone will be competing for the swim. “My, my,” I said to myself.

Participants were given enough time to rest and prepare while race marshals were busy setting up the stage, markers, and water stations. All of us were then asked to fall in line for the body marking. My number was F4. I couldn’t help but remember the famous Taiwanese boy band, F4, who attained popularity in the country sometime in 2003 for their Meteor Garden series.

This is our group photo before the race started. (From left to right: Glen, Pepsi, Rico aka Sheer Will, Running Diva, Jonas, Ellen, Ziggy, and Raff)

What happened next was one of the most unforgettable moments of my life. Here is where I competed with some of the best swimmers and runners. Here is where I had to overcome my fear of the sea. Can you see the hands of swimmers moving like flyingfish?

Here is where I finished my first aquathlon competition. I wanted to write more about the experience but no amount of words can explain what I felt during that day except pure bliss.

It wouldn’t have been made possible if not for the constant prodding of some people who I consider instrumental for my being a participant. Super duper thanks to Rico for the encouragement and support. To Carina who believes that I can do it and, ey, for the photos, too, thank you so much. I hope to see you Carina swimming with us soon. To the many faces of friends in the group like Raff, Glenn, Jonas, James, Ian, and Ellen. Kudos to kababayan Ziggy, the lifeguard, who placed second overall in the competition. How can I thank you guys?

That’s us holding our loot bags after finishing the race . (From left to right: James, Ian, Jonas, Ziggy, Ellen, Raff, Running Diva, Glen, Pepsi, and Sheer Will)

The 1st Corregidor Aquathlon Challenge is a 400m swim, 7km run, 400m swim race coursing through the island dubbed as The Rock and which was held last Saturday, Oct. 10, the day before the 33rd Milo Marathon Finals. It was organized by RunPlus. Below is the map showing the race route.

Corregidor or The Rock, is known for its role during WWII-the brave people behind it and its history. It’s a rock island remarkably shaped like a tadpole and measuring three miles long and 1 ½ miles at its widest point, facing the China Sea and flanked by the provinces of Bataan and Cavite. Corregidor came from the Spanish corregir which means to correct since it was a checkpoint for vessels entering Manila Bay during the Spanish and American occupations.

Corregidor became the headquarters of the Allied Forces and also the seat of the Philippine Commonwealth government. It was from Corregidor that Philippine Pres. Manuel Quezon and MacArthur left for Australia in February leaving behind Lt. Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright in command.

At present, Corregidor’s rich history continues to draw Filipinos and foreign tourists alike, making the island one of the most visited tourist spots in the country. In fact, I accompanied foreign visitor friends in the past to visit the site. I was their tour guide during their visit.

For those of you who are planning to conquer The Rock next month, don’t forget to do hill training as the course is more or less a three-kilometer steep uphill run.