It’s always a pleasure to visit Cebu. I’ve been here several times yet I still haven’t fully explored the place. This trip was a really short one as its board meeting week for me but I just couldn’t resist the temptation of Cebu plus the chance to support friends as they conquer the 70.3 Ironman distance. Had this trip booked as early as December last year upon registration of my team mates to the Ironman 70.3 in Cebu. I stayed with Jeff and his Tito Jim at Sotogrande in Mactan which is also where most of Team Total Fitness was booked. This trip was more of a sporty one rather than for tourism but the Shangrila, Mactan was really such a visual treat for guests and participants of the Ironman 70.3 event.
Just to get the most of the weekend, I started my trip in Cebu doing the balance of my training mileage for the week which is a 10K run. Cebu’s weather was opposite that of Manila as it was real hot in Cebu. My 10K run turned out to be a heat training starting from Soto Grande and towards Punta Engano Road even way past Shangrila, Mactan and back to Soto Grande. The road felt longer because of the hot weather but it was also a nice way to see Cebu. Aside from Shangrila, Mactan, I also passed Lapu Lapu’s shrine along the way. After lunch, we went to Shangrila for the bike check in, appreciate the facilities and visit the expo where Ironman and sponsors merchandise were available. The beachfront area was really beautiful. It had fine white sands with few small pebbles and corals. The shoreline was wide and the waters were crystal clear. The swim leg which is a total of 1.9km would be held here. The expo really had cool stuff. I ended up buying a 2xU Ironman polo shirt, a visor and a lifeproof case for my iPhone 4. Goodbye, stingy mode since this happens just once a year. Next up was the race briefing which showed the race course and the bike leg was really scenic passing through several cities/towns in Cebu, Fernan Bridge and even an underpass. I sure wish I could also bike that part but there will be another time for that. Last part of the day was a regular Cebu favorite of mine, dinner at Sutukil which had us eating crabs, squids and scallops. Somehow, a visit in Cebu won’t be complete without droping by Sutukil.
We were up as early as 3:30 am for early breakfast. There was a mix up with our shuttle but a kind participant allowed us to hitch a ride to Shangrila so was at the event venue before 5 am. Ironman participants had their body markings and for us spectators, we proceeded to the swim area for the gunstart at 6:15 am. It was a different swim start as the participants started in the middle of the water instead of the shore. After that we shifted to the swim transition area to take photos. After most of the athletes are done with the swim, we then started looking for a place to take photos for the bike leg. Since it’s a 90 kilometer ride, they won’t be back for about two to three hours from the swim transition. We walked a few kilometers before settling back near Shangrila entrance. It took another hour before the first bike came and it was defending champion Pete Jacobs with Cameron Brown just a few meters away breathing down his neck. Then came the familiar faces Coach Andy, Ferdz, JR, PJ, Jeff and Moby.
After seeing the last rider from Team Total Fitness, I shifted to the finish area to take photos. It was difficult getting to the finish area as some roads have already been closed so had to find alternate routes to the finish line. At the finish line, the participants of the elite category and age groupers started to cross the finish line. At just a shade over 5 hours, I saw Coach Andy cross the finish line then Ferdz at around 5:30+ hours, JR at 5:40+ hours, PJ at 6+ hours, Jeff at 6:30+ hours and Moby at 6:50+ hours. 70.3 miles complete for them. Aside from the pain of going through 1.9 km of swim, 90km of bike and 21.1 km of run, you can clearly see a sense of satisfaction from them since it took them several months to prepare for this event. People crossing the finish line had different approaches as some were limping, some had sprint finishes, some were walking and some were just running on heart alone. Joan also joined the swim leg as part of the relay. And yes there were also celebrity finishers for the 70.3 miles Ironman and they all finished strong too.
After everybody had crossed the finished line, I stayed a while for photos with the Team and by past 2 pm I realized that my flight was at 5 pm so had to rush back to the hotel to fix my stuff and take the shuttle back to the airport. After watching people chase the 70.3 distance, I was successfully able to chase my own flight, though barely. It was an exhausting weekend as throughout the whole Ironman event I was either standing taking pictures or walking from one place to another. That explains me immediately dozing off upon taking my seat in the plane. Even just watching Ironman needs a lot endurance and tolerance of the heat but it was nice watching them conquer the distance, pain and the hot and humid weather. And speaking of the sun, that’s one of the things I would be missing in Cebu as its been all rain in Metro Manila lately. Til the next Iron weekend, makes me think should I just watch the next one???
Team Total Fitness (homepage)