XTERRA off-road triathlon: Rugged and grueling

Ed Ching

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Rappler blogger Ed Ching recaps the rugged and grueling weekend that was the XTERRA off-road triathlon in Cebu.

FIRING OFF. XTERRA participants surely had a grueling but fun-filled weekend. Photo by Ed Ching/Rappler

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Set in the beautiful city of Liloan, Cebu, over 800 people converged to participate in the Vaseline XTERRA off road triathlon.

Developed by race master Dave Nicholas in Maui, Hawaii in 1996, the XTERRA competition in the Philippines has grown from just under 100 athletes in 2011, to more than 420 in 2012 and now in its third year here, has attracted more than 800 competitors from 17 countries across the globe.

An off road triathlon pushes the human body and mind like no other, taking the grueling triathlon to the next level: the great outdoors.

Through rough trail, rugged terrain and the unbelievable beauty of nature as back drop, the Vaseline XTERRA Championship weekend was a rousing success. Outside of attracting the big names in the XTERRA circuit around the world, it also got the participation of big time health buffs in the country, namely Sen. Pia Caytano, Alaska Milk CEO Uytengsu, Celebrity Matteo Degucelli, and TV host Paolo Abrera.


Back-to-back champions

The weekend kicked off with the main event: The 1.5KM swim, 36KM bike, and the 10KM run that had the participants sweat it out around the city of Liloan. Farm land and grass land awaited the competitors, along with stony roads along the rocky terrain.

Ben Allen of Australia won the men’s division with a time of 2:37:41 while Lesley Patterson of Switzerland led the women with a time of 2:45:41. Both competitors defended their titles, having won the competition last year, in Liloan as well.

It was Allen who got the attention of most of the organizers. Immediately after the race, he spoke with the media, went around congratulating other competitors and took pictures with numerous fans. It was definitely not the look of an exhausted man. A true champion, his charisma and ever smiling presence is a huge asset to the sport, which has a star they can build around.

“This year is much tougher than last year” said Allen, while flashing his medal. “It’s phenomenal” he said about the race weekend.

Joseph Miller of Zamboanga was the first Pinoy to finish in the competition, clocking in at 3:05:51

The ‘Lite’ competition

The second part of the weekend was the lighter competition, a 21k, 10k and a 5k trail run in Liloan.

Relatively speaking.

This trail run was like no other. Organizers discouraged the use of MP3 players because they suggested the course needs your full attention. And boy, did it.

With the heat on full blast Sunday morning, over 400 competitors braved the trail run. Celebs Rovilson Fernandez and the guys of Boys Nite Out (Sam YG, Tony Tony and Slick Rick) came to participate and they were not disappointed. The terrain was a tough one for everybody.


‘Everybody has a fun story’

At the end of the weekend, the man with the biggest smile was “Kahuna” Dave Nicholas. He told stories of runners seeing goats and chickens along the route, noting the Filipino hospitality.

“No place on Earth like the Philippines,” beamed Nicholas.

Lesley Patterson even said, “Honestly the hardest I’ve ever done. I’ll be back next year”

Nicholas tells a story of him going through the trail to take pictures. While he was about 100 meters or so away from the nearest spectator, a lady came up to him and offered him a chair to sit on. “It can’t happen anywhere else.”

Group effort

The sponsors and organizers made sure the event took care of the athletes. Near the finish line, there were places where competitors could get a massage, cool down with showers and of course, plenty of Cebu’s finest meals.

A fun part of the XTERRA Triathlon was the Vaseline booth, where competitors, after running the grueling course could wash off with the sponsor’s products. A clever way of promoting their stuff to the happy athletes who were more than happy to wash off the dirt they accumulated.

Smiles all around

Liloan Mayor Duke Frasco awaited the athletes at the finish line, presenting them with specially made medals out of oysters for the event. Fred Uytengsu, who not only participated in the XTERRA triathlon but also helped organize it through his company Sunrise Events.

The awarding ceremonies held at the CICC was a joy to behold, as the international competitors were treated to a cultural show of Cebu traditions.  At the end of the Vaseline XTERRA weekend, everyone has their fun story to tell. – Rappler.com

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