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LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Disabilities did not deter nine persons from competing alongside able-bodied racers in the 7th edition of Mount Mayon Triathlon on Sunday, August 14, here.
Jake Lacaba, 21, an amputee from Leyte, raced for 40 kilometers along a slippery road in the challenging bike course, right after teammate Manny Lobrigo, 45, from Legazpi City finished a 1.5km swim at Albay Gulf in the relay event.
Like Lacaba, Lobrigo is an amputee who swam the Albay Gulf despite strong currents due to the southwest monsoon.
Another amputee, Al Fernandez, 55, from Makati, ran the 10km stretch after Lacaba to cap off the team’s swim-bike-run race.
Fernandez, who was running with a blade prosthetic, had his teammates cheering him on at the finish line.
“There are no boundaries and limits if you are determined to participate in any event,” said Lacaba. “What we need is courage to get the work done despite our physical disabilities.”
Lobrigo told Rappler that nine persons with disabilities (PWD) from across the country joined the relay event. They were trained and urged by Vine Garcia, coach of the Finis swimming team, to compete in triathlon.
He said Garcia shouldered their training cost and other expenses as part of his advocacy to help out the PWDs competing in mainstream sports.
“We’re grateful to him because we’re integrated into mainstream sports,” Lobrigo said.
Mayon Triathlon kicked off with a 1.5km swim at the Albay Gulf in Barangay Puro, Legazpi City, followed by the 40km bike leg from Legazpi City down to the first district of Albay, and back to Legazpi for the final 10km coastal run along the Legazpi City Boulevard to the upland area of the city.
The event, touted as the “Most Scenic Race” in the country, returned after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around 500 racers competed in the event, including Southeast Asian Games veterans led by 2019 SEA Games silver medalist Andrew Kim Remolino, elite racers, and sports enthusiasts.
Although heavy downpour occurred for more than two hours before the start of the event, the Philippine Coast Guard gave the green light to proceed with the race at 7 am as the weather improved.
Albay Governor Noel Rosal and Legazpi City Mayor Geraldine Rosal graced the event and lauded the triathletes for braving and supporting the competition that promotes camaraderie, sportsmanship and sports tourism in the province.
The Philippine Coast Guard District in Bicol and the young sailors of the Albay Yacht Club and Legazpi City Integrated Coastal Resource Management also rendered assistance during the race.