One of the most challenging Olympic Distance races is upon us again. The Regent 5150 continues the Century Tuna 5150 legacy by giving us a unique and challenging course that few other events can match. Whether this is your A race or even if this is a tune up race for Ironman 70.3 Cebu, know what it takes to tackle the race course with this primer.
Thankfully, the original plan to have the swim leg in boardwalk (near Gerry’s Grill and Networx) was scrapped. Although it might be easier from a logistics standpoint since T1 and T2 (Remy field) are nearby, the water conditions are subpar compared to the new swim course along Hanjin Port.The new swim course now requires a rolling start. Since seacraft dock in this area, it’s very deep and the darkness adds to the intimidation it presents. However, as some will realize later, such a setup would actually be easier than a beach/running start. In case this would be a water start (vs. starting from the dock), the important thing to remember for this part is to keep calm and expend the least amount of energy before the gun goes off. I actually prefer this kind of swim release since there will be no chance of getting engulfed by the washing machine. For those who aren’t confident with their treading skills, it would be best to start from the dock or jump in the water at the very last minute. The disadvantage in time would be a good trade off instead of having to stress about treading and risk panicking. Water is usually calm in this area, but historically, there’s a strong current which may require you to shorten your strokes and increase your turnover rate (i.e. don’t glide).
As for the bike course, It’s a tad bit more timid that the previous years (Century Tuna 5150). I would divide it into several parts based on my plan of attack.
Out of T1, riders will immediately be directed into the Airport via the seldom used gate near All Hands Beach. Most would be tempted to hammer this part since they still feel fresh and partly because they’re still riding the adrenaline rush from the swim. As you would see from the elevation graph, it wouldn’t be wise to have such an approach. This is the only flat portion of the course; the remaining 3/4ths are quite hilly. Basic physics states that the faster you go, the harder it is to increase speed. This is because wind resistance (force due to drag) is squarely proportional to our velocity. Hence, since we’re already going very fast on the airport runway, it would yield minimal returns to keep pushing harder and harder.
Conversely, our speed on the hills is drastically slower than on the flats. This means wind resistance is at a minimum. We’re fighting one primary constant which is our weight (mass x 9.8m/s2 or the force due to gravity). Simply put, we would gain more by churning out the watts in the hills rather than the flats. This is because we’re not fighting a value that’s squarely proportional to our speed.
This is the start of the hilly portion of the race. The climbs here are between 4-6% grade (similar to climbing up Antipolo). If you paced yourself well during the runway segment, you should still feel fresh here. As mentioned earlier, this is where the most work has to be done. Mount solid efforts on the hills as this is where you would get the most gains in terms of speed/time. Be careful not to over exert and keep your efforts close to Functional Threshold Power (FTP) or Lactate Threshold. There will be plenty more climbing later on.
Arguably the most technical part of the course. It can be divided into 2 parts. The first half consists of a slightly high speed downhill with lots of turns. Use a light gear here to accelerate well out of the corners and lessen the chance of slipping on the sandy portions. The last portion consists of a tough uphill (an average grade of 4-5%). You start to feel the heat emanating from the asphalt and fatigue starts to set in. Keep your focus and pedal hard as there will be a long downhill after this before reaching Zambales road.
Recover well during the downhill portion from IDESS along Corregidor road. The next challenge is climbing up Zambales Road. The steepest portion of this road is close to 6% (similar to the steeper hills in Sierra Madre). Though not as tough as Tarlac road, this is still quite difficult and would need sheer strength to overcome. After this hill, there are some flat segments before going down Aparri Road.
Appari Road is probably one of the more technical descents in this course. The turns here are sweeping and there are some blind spots along the way. For newbies and inexperienced riders, brake before reaching the turn and let your momentum carry you through (feathering the brake as necessary). Don’t slam the brakes as you go through the turn to avoid losing grip. Also be cautious of the riders around you, give the faster riders ample space to overtake and don’t take their line. Experienced riders on the other hand, should still take caution and be courteous to those who are “playing it safe.” At the end of the day, safety is more important than anything.
After Appari, the rest of the course is mostly downhill. Those who weren’t able to hit the hills hard early on would need to do some catching up here. This is the most difficult part of the course to make ground because of the faster speeds and strong winds. Choose an easier gear before dismounting into T2, it will make the transition to running quicker and less painful.
The run course is very hot and flat. Temperature management is key here as there are segments with no shade and the heat from the asphalt adds to the sensation. The wind would add a slight cooling effect but oftentimes this will be overpowered by the sheer radiance of the sun. Aim to maintain a steady pace along the run course and remember to take in the necessary nutrition and fluids. The direction of the course is clockwise (to avoid collisions with other runners and cyclists). Out of Remy field, athletes make a run towards the direction of Puregold. After the turnaround, run back to Remy field, and proceed to the direction of boardwalk. The next turnaround is in front of Lighthouse. Make your way back to Remy field via the same road.
Zip up your tri suit and pose at the finish line. You deserve to brag a bit for finishing a tough race.
Good luck, race safe and see you at the finish line!