Tuesday, February 05, 2008


This Tri Community

wrote this article the week after White Rock Triathlon 2007, where I was volunteer because I was too broken-hearted to train and race that year haha... somehow hindi ko siya na-post kahit saan...so ngayon lang...

For an individual sport, triathlon – at least in the Philippines, ha – encourages and builds such a strong sense of community among athletes and supporters. Perhaps because the Philippine triathlon community is relatively in its infancy and quite small that we more or less know each other. Though at times it's like a Hollywood teen flick with all those cliques and stereotypical characters, but despite the differences and the tsismis, it's a great group – a pleasure and an honor to belong to.

People would happily give advice and make you feel welcome. Every post-race party, Ige Lopez would be dancing around, encouraging everyone to have fun. You don't feel the air that only the elites or the winners have a reason to celebrate. Every race is gruelling that just taking part is enough reason to party!

This tri community is also very sharing. Reinzi del Rosario patiently answered my phone queries about the right bike shoes to buy. Jojo Macalintal willingly taught me the proper cycling and running forms (which I'm still working on). At a race, Jon-Jon Rufino volunteered the technique of taping gels by the top so they would easily tear open when I grab them. Rizzo Tangan calmed me down minutes before tackling my first WRT last year with this piece of advice: “Just enjoy it.” The physical demands of triathlon is so much that finding reason in each other to actually enjoy it is very, very essential. And actually quite easy.

I've only been in triathlon for a few years and I'm sure there are lot more stellar examples of this sense of community but among the firsts that come to mind is how everyone rallied behind the Philippines' largest contingent ever to an Ironman event, last February in Langkawi. Team affiliations became inconsequential for everyone was just behind everybody else. On the day of the race, the local triathlon groups were abuzz with discussions, updates on the racers, even real-time tracking via Google Earth!

Just recently a group of triathletes were harassed while riding at a highway in Pampanga. While reading the accounts, like everyone else who could easily empathize, I was enraged and was immediately thinking how I could be of help. Any triathlete knows the perils of biking in our streets that being chased by armed men would certainly be an unnecessary danger. Again, this small tri community rallied behind these “victims” and I hope those responsible would be punished. They should know not to mess up with triathletes next time!

Personal reasons (personal reasons daw, o!) put me in a slump this triathlon season but true to the “Tri-DAWGS” acronym of “Willing to Give Support,” I was accepted as volunteer at the White Rock Triathlon last October 6, 2007. I was envious of those registering, thinking just last year I was on tip-top form but now I'm just some sluggish piece of lard. The common, “O, bakit hindi ka kakarera ngayon?” added to my frustration. But it was great meeting most of the people I've long admired, whose excellent time splits I've read and re-read. I was too shy to actually chat them up but some like Frank Lacson, Abe Tayag, Jumbo Tayag, and Bombee Narciso were very friendly.

We appreciate the support of foreign athletes like Australia's Bevan Leach and those from Team Bike Boutique. Their mere presence was affirmation that the our country is slowly becoming an important triathlon destination this part of the world. When first-time half-Ironman racer Rayzon Galdonez (Team PMI) came in third after Leach and Canada's Matt O'Holloran, we cheered at the emergence of this promising talent. (This former biking champ, had to learn the rudiments of running from Jomac when he decided to join his first triahtlon just this year!)

The highly competitive race for Over-all Female standings has another tale about this tri community. Eventual 2nd Placer (after Ani de Leon) Monica Torres and Fiona Ottiger were mere seconds apart at the finish. Upon crossing the line, the two hugged and left behind what was supposedly a nail-biting footrace between the them.

It's been said many, many times over that you compete against yourself in a triathlon. Everybody else, then, becomes an ally, a source of strength and inspiration. Congratulations to all the winners and the finishers of WRT 2007! I'll see you again at the next race (hopefully, with the honor of racing alongside all you again.)

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