Provence of Cebu, 9th biggest island of 7600+ islands (only 2000 are inhabited) that make up the Philippines. Know for its high end resorts and exotic diving and snorkelling. Race day is held out of the Shangri La Resort with its own beach, golf course, 3xswimming pools and elaborate gardens. The event is well supported by the region, the Mayor of Lapu-Lapu city was even at the swim start.
Very accessible. 20min taxi from Mactan-Cebu airport. (a cheap domestic flight from Manila or some other major Asia hubs). I came from Switzerland, 38hrs, one bus, one train, three flights, one taxi and an airport transfer to the hotel. Pretty smooth flowing just long.
Coming from a diet of bread and cheese I wasn’t too explorative pre race this time. But do love the fat rice noodles with veges, a salty broth, topped with chilly garlic flakes and sping onion. - served at the breakfast buffet. Lucky prerace local beverage: San Miguel Pilsner.
The opening ceremony for all participants and supporters was on Friday night with an epic modern dance competition, decent array of ‘carbo’ party food and a few introductions from some key people behind the event. They really make an atmosphere for this event and try to accomodate everyone with iron kids and the iron girl run on the saturday. Blowup banners are everywhere, huge expo and interactive sponsor games, help create the hype. As a pro you feel a little bit busy pre race with sponsor and media commitments but it is actually really nice to be able to give back a little for the amazing hospitality we are provided.
Water temp 28 degrees. I much prefer a swim skin swim and being able to feel my toes upon exiting the swim so this was great. We were swimming amongst heaps of coral, bright blue star fish and a ton of different sized and shaped fish (though I only noticed all this in my warm up). I’ve been trying to work on a more explosive start for the first 400m or so without getting too panicked. Today was a smaller field so had plenty of space so I managed to keep under control but didn’t have that acceleration I wanted off the mark. A group of 6-7 of us all swam and exited together.
Drone footage of the swim that will make you want to race: https://vimeo.com/229067308
Air temp 31 (40 real feel). Flat, untechniqual, out and back M shaped course. I was first onto the bike and our group narrowed down to three of us after 10km or so, through the initial corners and over the bridge. Tried to get a break for the first half of the ride, but with a bit of wind, straight roads and an elevation of less than 100m it made it difficult. The support on course especially at the start and finish was epic, with spectators three rows deep at key places. I picked up the pace for the last 10km back over the bridge and was 1st off the bike.
I started with a 1minute lead. I was hoping to have a bit more than this as I haven't done as much running as I'd like in the last few weeks and was unsure what my legs would give me. After the first 10km I was pleased see I'd extended my lead to 7mins so I was able to hold a steady pace home for the second half and enjoy the energy of the spectators, flags, kids chanting, dancers and motivational music everywhere on course. Definitely made the most of the the aid stations every 1.5km; cola, ice sponges and buckets of cold water poured over me by the spectators.
Won gold. Very Happy to get a win in this season after a slow start to my year with some injury. Atmosphere and orgainisation wise the best half ironman in Asia! (If the bike course was hilly it would rank no1 on course too.)
Ice baths, really good long massage, more dancers, exhausted but very satisfied athletes, lots of post race food combined with outdoor prize giving. Also the coolest trophys and finishers medals I've ever seen. Pretty cool that this event gets 70.3 Asia- Pacific Champs title again next year (they had it in 2016).
Filipinos all seem to speak fluent English. But always greet you with ‘Mabuhay’. One of the guards taught me- Mabuhay, Tumawa, Magmahal. Live, Laugh, love