Saturday, 12 March 2011

Xterra Philippines 1st

Last weekend saw the start of my 2011 international campaign, with the first of 4 races in Asia, and the first ever running of Xterra Philippines.

The whole race was a fantastic spectacle, from being greated like royalty at the airport in Cebu by local band, to being putup in one of the best hotels i've ever stayed in, an amazing pre race dinner hosted by the Governer of the Province with 200 local dancers putting on an amazing show in local dress, and finally the race itself, where the crowds lined the roads like you see in a mountain stage of the Tour de France (chanting songs and waving flags).
Competitors came from Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States to make it a truely international event.
The race started with a 1.5-kilometer swim in the Camotes Sea near the century old Liloan lighthouse, followed with a 32-kilometer mountain bike and finished with a 10-kilometer trail run through thousands of cheering spectators fronting the San Fernando Rey Parish Church and Papa Kits Marina where we ran on a 200m bamboo walkway above the water.
I was 5th out of the water behind some top local swimmers, onto the bike I was anxious to build as big a lead as possible because I have missed 10 days of run training trying to rest my calf from a recent injury. This plan worked perfectly and although I could still feel my calf injury on the run I was able to jog the run at 80% effort and hopefully not do any additional damage. The 2nd place male pro was the current Philippines 70.3 champion Neil Catiil. The womens race was won by World Champion Shonny Vanlandingham of the USA, ahead of European Champion Renata Bucher of Switzerland.
The race has already received a lot of publicity with 20+ journalists at the pre and post race press conferences. Thanks to an enthusiastic team of local volunteers this race will go from strength to strength in the next few years I'm sure.

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