One of the ‘must do’ triathlon event here in the Philippines especially if you’re joining the Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines, Tri United is considered a tune-up for next months’ Camsur event. Tri United was a huge success and certainly lived up to its expectations. My second triathlon, it was a huge leap (distance wise) for me from doing the Animo Sprint Triathlon in June - 900m Swim/30km Bike/7km Run to Tri United at Matabungkay – 2km Swim/60km Bike/15km Run, not even doing a standard Tri-distance race like Subit.
Tri United at Matabungkay 2011 will certainly be memorable to a lot of participants probably because of the open water swim leg at Matabungkay beach featuring huge waves that made the swim like HELL! Imagine doing 3 loops in open water with waves so big its a perfect day for surfing. This wasn’t my first time to swim at Matabungkay but this was the first time I saw waves this big in a nice sunny morning at Matabungkay beach. Swimming against the huge waves was so hard some participants didn’t even pushed thru the swim while some resigned from the race after the 1st loop. Good thing I have open water experience and swimming against the waves didn’t bother me at all, it was the seaweeds and garbage that made the swim a bit harder not to mention jellyfish stings that were so itchy. After the race, one of my tri-buddies Kevin got patches of red skin all over his back due to jellyfish stings. Since I’m a Total Immersion swimmer, my approach for the swim was to take it easy and let others pass me. The ‘take it easy‘ approach worked well but the ‘let others pass me‘ was a big FAIL – got kicked in the face about 3 times by passing swimmers and knocking my googles off in one occasion.
Right after the swim, participants have to run about 1km to the transition area located at Matabungkay Beach Club. The roads along Matabungkay were already full of spectators right around the time I were running towards the transition area. Locals and even tourists cheer bring the festive atmosphere boosting me ahead to run with my wet and slippery sandals. Quickly grabbed and wore my helmet, cycling shoes and WheelBrothers jersey and ran out of transition for the 60km Bike Leg. The roads going out of Matabungkay weren’t that good if you compare it to the main roads where we will be mostly doing the bike leg so you can’t pedal hard for the first 2km, well you wont be pushing hard anyways considering there are still participants running towards the transition area to get their bikes.
Cycling along the roads of Lian was a breeze! There are barely any oncoming traffic and the roads are top notch… A cyclist paradise! The bike leg was short of 10km because the course re-rerouting to Balayan (due to a major road rehabilitation, was supposed to go straight to Calatagan’s flat roads) which included another climb. Going back to Lian to complete the loop was a challenge if you aren’t a good climber like me, the last kilometer included a steep curving climb towards Puting-Kahoy. My original game plan was not to push it hard during the bike, but somehow I pushed hard especially during the climbs which I paid big during the run leg.
After completing my bike leg, its time for the last part of the race – run 15km (3 loops) along the Matabungkay to Ligtasin road. Again, the festive atmosphere along the route was a welcome sight. Locals now splashing particiapnts with water that really helped you keep cool, just when the temperatures where getting hotter and hotter during that time of the day. The first loop for me was good, but struggled the last 2 run loops. Pushing the bike during the climbs was the biggest mistake I made in this race, cramps were imminent and made me control my pace doing a walk-run approach just to finish the run w/o cramping my legs. The scorching heat added to the difficulty of the run, passed by several participants succumbing to the heat and suffering from cramps.
After struggling on a slow Run leg, the finish line was a welcome sight for me finishing with a time of 4hrs and 41 mins. Things that I would like to complain – water stations weren’t giving bananas and Gatorade/Powerade, really important especially for long distance events like this. A lot were also complaining about the awarding ceremonies being held early since some participants were still doing the run leg. Tri United is definitely a must do for triathletes even if you aren’t joining the Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines. I had a blast and had a chance to meet a lot of big Pinoy triathletes during the awarding ceremonies. Even better, got invited to join the Greenhills Tri team!
Overall, I give my SportyTechie two thumbs up for the organizers - job well done! Up next… Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines!
Click here for the Tri United 2011 Results.
Click here for the Tri United 2011 photos/video