Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The 2011 Ironman Philippines: a race for the ages

The 2011 Ironman Philippines: a race for the ages
by rick olivares with photos by brosi gonzales

Camarines Sur – There’s a sense that the 2011 Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines, the third edition of the race in Camarines Sur is going to be the most special given what is at stake. At the same time, there’s the sense of finality as the franchise awarded to the Philippines is in the final stage of a three-year contract.

“Right now, I want to concentrate on Sunday (August 14) and make sure that we mount a memorable race,” said Wilfred Steven Uytengsu, President and CEO of Alaska Milk Corporation and Chairman of the local staging of Ironman. “The bidding for the franchise has to go through a normal process where it is evaluated by the World Triathlon Council. It’s nothing we can control. But Sunday is something we can control.”

The Philippine Ironman event, with its 1,108 participants from 28 countries has been given the rare honor (despite being a half-Ironman event) of serving as a qualifier for the Ironman World Championship 70.3 in Las Vegas Nevada on September 11 and the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii in October 8.

Twenty-five slots are available for Las Vegas while there are 30 for Kona. “Fifty-five people will be very happy at the end of the day while there will be some who will come away feeling disappointed by not making it because of a matter of minutes or seconds,” pointed out race director Guy Concepcion who conceived the new race route that is doubly harder than the previous two stagings.

“The hallmark of an Ironman race is the level of difficulty,” explained Concepcion who teaches marketing in his day job. “Some of the people in the organizing committee were thinking of putting up signs at intervals during the race that would say, ‘This is Guy’s fault.’”

The killer part of the race is what organizers have dubbed as “the rice cooker.”

“That’s nine kilometers of running through rice paddies to your left and right under a blazing sun with no shade,” impishly described the race director. “They will have to hydrate well, drink lots of water and Gatorade to get through this.”

Amanda Stevens, one of the 11 registered participating pro athletes who won the Ironman 70.3 in Cancun, Mexico says that what made her decide to come over was hearing about the hospitality of the Filipinos that made the race special. “I’ve heard good things and about how triathlon is really alive in this country,” said the California native who generally does well in the heat. “The landscape and all these available slots for Kona is also a huge incentive.”

The 2010 Ironman Philippines champion, Australian Pete Jacobs, who finished the race in 3 hours, 58 minutes, and 41 seconds said that he’s now healthy after suffering a stress fracture on his foot. “When I was injured I wasn’t able to run as much but it did give me time to improve on my swimming. This race is big for me for a couple of reasons. One, I’m defending a title, and two, I’m looking at this as a build up for Kona.”

Jacobs admitted that he will cast a wary eye at New Zealander Cameron Brown and fellow Aussie Luke Gillmer who he said are outstanding athletes are should be considered contenders to win the Philippine race. “But the great thing about winning here last year is it gave me the confidence to get it done. And with the stakes at hand, I’m going to count on that confidence, the memory of getting the job done (against Terrenzo Bozzone, the winner of the 2009 Ironman Philippines who came in five minutes after Jacons in last year’s race).”

The Sydney-resident has completed 17 Ironman races in his career. Completing the roster of pro athletes are Justin Granger (Australia), Dan Brown (Australia), Erich Felbabel (Hong Kong), and Jesse Thomas (United States) for the males, and Bree Wee (United States), Belinda Granger (Australia), and Katya Meyers (United States) for the females. On the local side, among the participating personalities are Sen. Pia Cayetano, Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Richard Gutierrez, and Drew Arellano among others.

With Amanda Stevens (above) and Pete Jacobs (below).

Interviewing 2011 Ironman 70.3 Philippines race director Guy Concepcion at the media center.

No comments:

Post a Comment