Here’s my report on the Fontana Sprint Triathlon which was held on 6 July 2008 at the Fontana Leisure Parks in Clark, Pampanga. The race was organized by Thumbie and Popo Remigio. This is the same couple who has organized a host of adventure races in the past (i.e. Clark Off-Road Duathlon, 24 Hour Endurance Race, etc. )
I woke up at around 4am and prepared my gear in earnest: swim goggles, helmet, GU gel, gatorade, shades, running shoes, cycling shoes. Just a couple of peanut butter sandwiches and then I was off to Clark. Arrived at around 6:30 am and was glad to see a number of triathletes on hand prepping up for the race. I’m guessing there were about 60+ of us who raced yesterday. The registration went smoothly even though most participants appeared to have registered on the day itself. Popo gave the race briefing at 7:45am and the race promptly started at 8am. We were released in 4 waves. First were the women racers, the next were those competing in the open category, the 3rd wave were the age-groupers and finally, us the ones competing in the 31-40 age category.
We swam at Fontana’s brand new olympic-sized swimming pool. We had to cover 800 meters and there were 8 lanes. So all the participants swam the 8 lanes twice. Of course, there was the usual bumping and tugging all throughout the swim. Part and parcel in any triathlon race. About 2 laps before the end of the swim portion, I noticed that my watch had stopped. Must have pushed the stop/reset button at some point during the bumping and tugging I described earlier. At any rate, there was no time to fret about it, so off now to the transition area to prepare for the bike portion.
It began to drizzle at this point and I remember debating with myself whether to wear shades or not considering the sun was not shining anyway. I finally did wear the shades and I’m glad I did because it really did start to rain hard during the bike portion and if not for the shades, it would have been really difficult navigating the bike course. Took a long time in transition because I have this thing about setting the odometer to zero (which I normally do before the race but which I forgot at this instance).
The bike course is 30 kms. All the participants were required to do three (3) loops of around 10kms. around Clark, the Expo Area, Clearwater then back to Fontana. I liked the first 5 to 6 kms. of each loop because it was descending and I was able to go at speeds of around 45 km/hr, topping off at 50 km/hr. However, in any descent, there’s always an ascent. Each loop had a gradual ascent of 4kms right to Fontana where you begin another loop again. This was an interesting bike course because I remember during the first loop where I encountered a number of goats trying to cross the road. The goats were kind enough to let me pass though. (Thank you goats!!!) Also, getting overtaken by the elite triathletes in their bikes was a thrill in itself as I saw them pedal so effortlessly even though they were probably going at speeds of about 50 to 60 kms/hr. The sky began to clear when I was on my 3rd loop. Off to the transition area again to prepare for the run portion.
The run was a basic out-and-back 5km course just outside Fontana. The first 2.5km was downhill and then going back to the finish line was uphill. This was the only portion of the race where I was able to time my effort accurately. I did 27:38 for the 5k.
- Registration Fee was only Php 500. I say ‘only’ Php 500 because other races of similar distance peg the fee at around Php 800 to P1,000.
- For a minimal registration fee, the participants were provided gatorade at the finish line, there was ample supply of water at the aid stations, buffet lunch, and a finisher’s T-shirt.
- The presence of elite triathletes like Matthieu O’Halloran, George Vilog and Mark Candelaria who finished 1-2-3 respectively.
- The race started on time. For a sprint distance, I appreciated the “late” start of 8am because I normally have trouble sleeping the night before a race. Other races normally start at 6:30am
- The distances were accurate. One thing I also liked was that this course is short enough for beginners to try and venture into the world of triathlon and yet, is challenging enough for the grizzled veterans to incorporate as part of their training.
- They also had cash prizes for those who placed.
- Had pictures taken with Raymart, Claudine and family.
- It rained. It was my first time to bike in the rain. Let’s just say, I’d much rather bike under the sun.
- During the bike course, there was one point there where marshalls had to give strings to the participants to indicate that they have passed a particular area in the course. According to the organizers, this had to be done to prevent shortcuts. I just thought maybe it would have been better if the marshalls just listed the numbers of those who passed that particular portion.
All in all, I really enjoyed this race. Congratulations to all the winners!! Special thanks goes out to Thumbie and Popo for organizing this Sprint Triathlon. I’m sure those who tried triathlon for the first time yesterday had fun. According to the organizers, the plan is to hold a quarterly Fontana Sprint Triathlon. Count on me being there when it happens. Cheers!!!