Some of our our favorite Ironman memories

By Nicole Ganglani | Photos by Samantha Ong and Javier Lobregat

Right now, we’re supposed to be on our way to Cebu where the biggest triathlon event in the country takes place annually. Sadly, 2020 had different plans for the triathlon community. It got us thinking about what we miss so much about the sport. From witnessing ironkids turn into certified superstars to the intensity of the professional triathletes (and the heat!) every race day, here’s everything we miss about Ironman right now. 


The pre-event orientations 


A day before the events take place, the media is always oriented about what to expect throughout the weekend. That is, the schedule of activities, race routes, triathletes to watch out for and latest updates on the Ironman organization. I could go on and on because nothing beats the excitement you get after hearing what’s in store for the weekend. 


Witnessing the ironkids shine bright 


Witnessing proud parents on the sidelines and hearing the loud cheers for the ironkids is an absolute joy to watch. What makes every ironkids tournament so exciting is knowing that some—if not all—of these kids have a good chance of representing the country one day. Last year alone, almost 400 participants ranging from six to 14 years old completed—a good sign for the future of triathlon in the country.


Meeting the pros


Meeting the pros happens at least 24 hours before the race takes place. This is when the audience meets the professional triathletes competing and hears their stories and accomplishments throughout their career. Personally, what I miss most about this is seeing how competitive the triathletes are with each other—something that makes me look forward to race day. In the 2019 Regent Aguila Ironman 70.3 race, a lot from the audience expected Mauricio Mendez to nab his second straight title but Tim Reed was on a mission to prove he was the best triathlete—and he did just that. 


Keeping track of our triathletes


Two time SEA Games gold medalist Nikko Huelgas had one of the best races of his life in last year’s Regent Aguila Ironman 70.3. Huelgas’ first-place finish in the Asian Elite category was a breakthrough for him and in his own words, a sign that he still had a career in triathlon. It’s stories like this you hear every race day that make Philippine triathlon so captivating. This is also an opportunity to follow and get to know local triathletes that represent the country regularly. 


The pre race jitters


Waking up before sunrise and feeling the excitement combined with nervousness in the air before gunstart is all part of the Ironman experience. It’s what comes with the race and makes triathlon so special for many. 


The intensity every race day


The race itself is the most intense part of the weekend. For the media, this involves a lot of hours spent under the sun to track the competitors. Experiencing the journey of these athletes (1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21km run course) leaves you in awe and makes the competition more special. Who’s going to cross the finish line first? Who’ll beat another triahtletes’s personal record? These are some of the questions that can be answered only at the end of the rigorous race. Most of the time, the intensity during race day is like the country’s scorching weather. 


How the community gathers together


Every Ironman weekend is an opportunity for the community to unite and celebrate the sport of triathlon. After each race, the spirit and excitement in the air goes unnoticed. It’s a celebration of how far triathlon has come in the Philippines and its potential to grow even more. The triathlon community stays together through the ups and downs and there’s no doubt that it will be back one day.