Tri United 1 (Philippines) – Race Report
Bike King runs 4 triathlon races in the Philippines, beginning with Tri United 1, which offers both sprint and olympic distance races in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. I was already headed to Subic for the inaugural Century Tuna Ironman 70.3 when I found out about the Tri United Race. I love smaller, local races, so I was excited about Tri United. Registration was technically closed when I tried to sign up, but I emailed the organizers and they were kind enough to accommodate me.
Although Tri United is more of a local race, it has all the badges of a larger, international event, at least compared to the local races I’m used to in Saipan. The registration took place at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center, complete with a product expo including booths by BMC, Saucony, Zensah, and more. The registration packet had the usual goodies – a really nice tec shirt, timing chip, bike and helmet stickers, race number and a tote bag. Oddly, there were also a few packets of random pills, which I opted not to take. The organizers were really welcoming and there were photographers and videographers already documenting the event.
The bike check-in was the day before the race, and I was glad to see red carpets and legit bike racks alongside Dungaree Beach, which served as both T1 and T2. One word of caution is not to leave any food or loose items on your bike the night before the race because there are monkeys in the area that like to scavenge for anything edible. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a pre-race dinner, but there was a race briefing (which I missed), and there was a decent lunch at the registration expo. Still, I like pre-race dinners for the social aspect of meeting new people, especially when I’m traveling.
The race started at 6am, and there were two wave starts for the olympic course. Wave 1 was pros, asia elites, and female age groupers, while all the male age groupers were put into Wave 2. There were approximately 800 participants and normally this wave organization would bother me because swimming through hundreds of slower swimmers is always a battle. Luckily, the waves were 15 minutes apart, however, which was enough of a gap to thin out the swimmers and allow room for passing. Another nice touch was a rope lining the entire swim course, which is pretty convenient for sighting, and I guess for not-drowning if you’re new to the sport. It seems they might have learned a thing or two from the 2013 Cobra Ironman 70.3 in Cebu because the swim course went clockwise around the ropes so right-sided breathers (the majority) could watch the rope. The water was warm and clear, though you couldn’t see the bottom after about the first buoy, and I did get a minor jellyfish sting on my hand halfway through the swim. Anyhow, I got through it fairly well and was glad to see a pretty full bike rack at T1.
The bike course was two fast and flat loops along the water’s edge, with race officials at all of the major intersections stopping traffic and directing the racers. Knowing that there were basically no hills, I more or less just tried to stay tucked and hammer it to pass as many people as I could. Luckily, I didn’t have any mechanical issues or flat tires despite some rugged sections of road that took a chunk out of my rear tire. I didn’t notice it until after the race though, so it was a none issue.
The run was four loops along the western end of the airport, with aid stations at both ends serving fruit, water and Pocari Sweat. I finished the race in 2:23, which may be my PR for an olympic distance race. Anyhow, it was good enough to earn me third in my age group (40-45). Not bad for a race of about 800 people! I had a blast, met some really cool people along the way, and highly recommend Tri United to anyone. I’ll definitely be joining more of their races in the future.
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