Short video of my time in the Philippines for the Asia Pacific 70.3 Championships, some condensed footage from RJ Media and shots fromAsiaTri Live. Race report below:
Sunrise Events who puts on 70.3 Cebu (which was the Asia Pacific Champs this year) does more than just put on races. They not only put on a great event, they also have the athletes get involved with the local community, and also do community projects. After a long day of travel and a total of 9 hours of delays due to the plane crash at Dubai, I finally arrived to Cebu a little before midnight. By the time my bike was built and I was in bed it was close to 1:30 am. The next morning, Friday, 2 days before the race they had us meet for a morning run with anyone that wanted to join. We ran a little under a mile down to a local elementary school where they had a huge gathering where the kids did local dances and skits. The theme was to promote Alaska Milk and for the kids to get to drink milk, which most of them had never had. So it was a great experience, and once we were done, there a short run back to the hotel.
This is the first time that I have had one of those surreal moments where it finally hit me that I might have actually (slightly) "made it" in this sport. Only a few years ago I was just a "fan boy" and age group athlete. In Kona, I would wait in line to get free product and meet the pros at sponsor booths. Having no idea that a few years down the road I would be sitting down at breakfast with some of the greatest in the sport. Here I am, a 2nd year pro with a mediocre at best resume and I am sitting down with the likes of Cam Brown, Craig Alexander, Tim Reed, Tim Van Berkel and a few others. All of which are extremely accomplished athletes. The race organizers had every meal provided for us, which brought all of the pros together. It was a great experience to just sit back and listen to all their stories and attempt to gain as much knowledge as possible. I asked a few questions here and there, but for the most part I just tried to absorb as much as I could.
The lead up to the race was pretty typical. I felt pretty rested going into the event considering it was some of the best sleep I had gotten since Asher was born. Race morning came quite early with a 0330 wake up and 0400 breakfast. Race start was at 0600, which was great due to how hot the day was going to be, but quite early compared to the 11am start at Iceland a few weeks back.
Swim - 28:29
I got out for a decent warm-up and felt pretty good in the water. It was my first race in the blueseventy PZ4TX, and it felt really good. The horn went off and the start was extremely fast. I hung on for as long as I could to what would end up being a big group of guys that would then split into 2 groups. After about 300 m I was out the back of the group and swimming on my own with a few guys on my feet. It would remain like this until about 300 m to go, when the women's pro leader came by me, and then then 2nd and 3rd women ended up exiting the swim with me. They started 2 mins behind us, so it wasn't a complete disaster of a swim for me, but still pretty disappointing to not be able to make the second pack. So I will continue chipping away at the swim--it is improving, just taking time.
This was probably the most frustrating part of the day. I was riding really well but at the first U-Turn (there were 3 on the course) I was able to get a time split and I was 6 mins down from the lead group of 6. I was making time up on everyone else except the lead group. Their lead continued to grow and I believe coming out of T2 they were 10 minutes up on me. They were the only guys that out biked me, so it was a bit frustrating to lose that much time to so many. Only solution to this problem, swim FASTER. I came off the bike in 15th, and knew to get into the money & top 10 I was going to have my work cut out for me.
I felt good early on in the run. James Hadley who has run some blazing fast splits off the bike was around 30secs ahead of me out of T2. I just kept him in my sights and slowly started making up ground on him. The run course was 2 loops and there were a few places to get good splits. I ended up catching him around 6 km and then he repassed me shortly after. He just hovered out in front of me for a while and I just kept clicking over the miles and eventually repassed him. As the race went on, a few guys started blowing up and with 4 km to go I had moved up to 11th. I saw Belinda & Justin Granger at this point and they said guys were blowing up ahead of me, but I was running out of miles to catch them. I just kept going and hoping that I could catch one more guy so I could collect a pay check. That didn't happen and I ended up crossing the line in 11th.
This is by far one of the toughest fields I have raced in. There were 9 out of the top 50 in the 2016 70.3 World Champ Rankings in the field, and 12 out of the top 100, so needless to stay even though I was not in the Top 10 or able to collect a paycheck, I was extremely happy with how the day went and how I raced. It was a big confidence boost heading into Chungju 70.3 next weekend (14 August) and into 70.3 Worlds on 4 September.
HUGE thanks to Sunrise Events for putting on an AMAZING race. Big thanks to Fred, Princess Galura, and Emma for taking such good care of the pro athletes and allowing us to be a part of the whole cultural and local experience. I look forward to doing more of their events out here in Asia and I would highly recommend you look into them as well!
Lastly, but most importantly, I cannot say THANKS enough to my wife, Hila, for continuing to allow me to chase my dreams. With a 4 week old baby at home I know it was not easy letting me go travel for 2 weeks to race both of these events, but THANK YOU for believing in me and taking care of Asher while I am on the road. Additionally thanks to Hila's mom and my cousin Danielle for helping out while I was gone, if it wasn't for them I would not have been able to leave. As the saying goes "It takes a village", and that couldn't be more true as I continue to chase this dream.