During one of the hottest weekends of the year, more than 800 triathletes participated in the K-Swiss ITU Subic Bay International Triathlon 2014, a.k.a. SuBIT 2014. The longest running triathlon event in the Philippines, it was made up of five events: Asia Cup 2014 Series Event, National Age-Group Championships, Inter-Club Competition, National Triathlon Try-Outs and the Asian Paratriathlon Championships 2014. The Sprint, Mini Sprint Distances and Paratriathlon events were scheduled on the first day while all the standard distance: Elite, U23, Age Groups and Clubs were on the second day.
I was there, not to race but, to support Moche because it was his first triathlon ever. He joined the Age Group category which meant that he had to swim 1.5km, then bike 40km and finally run 10km. All this under the scorching summer sun as the race started past 7am and lasted until well into 12nn.
We were at the race area as early as 5am on Sunday morning, which didn’t prove to be early enough as we had difficulty in finding a parking space. There were already lots of triathletes milling around, warming up or getting their body marks. The swim leg of the race was held at the All Hands Beach and it started at the NCT Junction. The first ones to start were the male Elite triathletes who had to dive off from the platform. Not twenty minutes later, Dickson Tam Joe Dick was already off the water and running to the first transition area to start the bike leg of the race. After several minutes, the female Elite triathletes set off into the water and the fastest one, Pei Yen Hsu was also out of the water and was rushing off to her bike.
Then, next were the triathletes from the Age Group Category. Instead of diving off the platform, they had a water start, meaning they had to get into the water and tread for a few minutes before they can start with the race. One of the local celebrity triathletes, Isabelle Daza, proved to be a force to be reckoned with, being one of the first twenty female triathletes to finish the 1.5km swim. Another local celebrity triathlete that I saw was Kim Atienza racing with Team Gotta.
Meanwhile, the triathletes who really struck a chord were the unexpected ones. I saw about a couple of overweight girls finish the swim leg and I was really glad that I was wearing shades so that people won’t see the tears in my eyes. I already have a hard time imagining myself swimming that punishing distance of 1.5km, but those girls really put me to shame. And they weren’t laggers, either. I believe they finished ahead of a good percentage in triathletes. I was so proud of them! Then, there were also those who definitely belonged to the 50 and up category, swimming strong and running to the transition area. What endurance!
Moche was one of the last swimmers and I was already so close to having a heart attack at that point. I kept imagining worst-case scenarios in my head, knowing he was undertrained in swimming and that he had a tendency to experience cramps while running. The heat and anxiety were really getting to me and I was really so happy when I saw him get out of the water. After Moche finished the swim part, it was time for the gruelling 40km bike ride along Subic’s uphill, downhill and twisting roads. Ate Wheng and I drove back to the hotel to have some breakfast for the meantime. We had agreed earlier that we would watch out for Moche during the run part of the race because the route passes near our hotel.
After breakfast, we walked towards the Harbor Point mall to look out for Moche. It was barely 10am that time but the heat felt like it was already 12nn… in Tuguegarao (a.k.a. hottest place in the country). It was really heart-wrenching to watch all those triathletes run/walk/trudge their way around the course. Then I saw Moche running and still with enough energy to smile for the camera. It was amazing that he seemed to be well ahead of a lot of the other triathletes who passed him during swimming. He would later told me that he made up for all the lost time in running, which, I guess, was his best leg. Me, I was just happy to see him alive.
The triathlon was finally over and a mix of exhaustion, relief and elation was on the faces of all the triathletes that we passed. Some were limping, others still seemed to have plenty of energy to horse around, but everyone looked particularly burned.
It was my first time to witness an actual triathlon and I’m pretty sure that it would stay with me for a very long time. The camaraderie, dedication and determination that I witnessed was really something else. Although I still wasn’t inspired to engage in a triathlon – not knowing how to ride a bike – I was definitely moved enough to up the ante when it comes to the sports I know. The sedentary life is not working for me and I really need to do something soon if I want to be an aquathlete. Next year?
Subic Bay International Triathlon 2014 photos here:
April 26-27, 2014