It’s another season and the Sante Barley Practical Race Execution and Preview (PREP) series is here once again to make sure you’ve got all the points ticked off for race day!
There are some minute changes to the first race of the TriUnited franchise. Last year’s TU1 has been renamed to The TriUnited Exceed Standard. However, apart from the name change, the race is almost identical to last year.
For your reference, here are the schedule of events. Make sure you register and check in your bike the day before (race morning check ins are not allowed). Attend race briefing for some last minute reminders.
This year, we will have a single, out and back course once again. This course is as simple as it gets but can still pose some small challenges.
Given the current weather conditions, make sure you’re ready for a very cold swim! Expect air temperature to be close to 23°C! Warm up properly to get your engine going. The swim start is divided into waves based on age groups (see schedule below). It heads out in a westward direction for 750m before heading back to shore. To a lot of newbies, the sensation of swimming out so far may seem daunting. As you swim out, you will reach a point where you will only see pitch black darkness (yes, it gets quite deep). However, don’t panic! Relax and stay calm as you try and navigate the course. There are plenty of lifeguards and marshals in the area. You’ll be safe as long as you stick to your game plan (i.e. swim!) Luckily, the water is generally calm with only a slight current towards the North-West direction. This would only pose as a slight problem once you head back to shore. At times, you feel like you’re being pushed closer to the rocks on the side. Pay close attention to sighting properly and navigating in a straight line. Since we will have to swim in an eastward direction going back, we will probably be blinded by the rising sun. Thus, you need to pick the right pair of goggles. Avoid using clear or smoke lens. I personally prefer using polarized or mirrored lens. These goggles will help cut out glare and help you see well.
The bike course, is identical to last year. This is both good and bad news. The good news is that a lot of athletes are already familiar with the terrain and conditions. The bad news is that it’s one of the hardest courses in the Philippine triathlon scene.
The first part consists of a series of long and steep climbs. The hills add up to roughly 9km of climbing (in total) with a maximum elevation of 160m. The first hill starts out at 5% near Triboa Bay (grade is quite similar to the hill going up Miriam in Nuvali). This is followed by a long descent into the police checkpoint/gate. A few hundred meters after is where the fun begins.
The long 1.5km climb has varying degrees of incline. It starts off with a very steep 8% grade (similar to the steeper segments up Antipolo) then evens out at roughly 4%. Before you reach the turnaround, you will need to tuck into your aero position as you ride a very fast downhill segment. After the U turn, the pain reacquaints itself with your legs. Climbing back up is 2x more difficult this time around because of the heat, fatigue, and possible dehydration. It’s important to pay close attention to nutrition and hydration to avoid cramping. 14km into the course, you will encounter a very fast and technical descent back to where we came. Pay very close attention to the terrain and avoid any rocks, potholes, or obstacles. Brake before you enter each turn and make it through the bend in a calm, collected, and precise way. Don’t slam your brakes nor make any abrupt changes. Be polite and courteous to other riders. Ride on the right side of the road and let others pass on the left. No drafting!
The second part of the course consists of a flat and fast stretch of road with some significant crosswinds coming from the east-northeast (25-30kph). Avoid using super deep rims as they might even be a disadvantage for this course. After the punishing hills earlier in the race, this is where a lot of triathletes like to let loose. Be wary as you hammer the course. Remember, the race doesn’t end in T2. No one gets extra points (for this race anyway) for the fastest bike split. It’s all about managing one’s efforts to nail the fastest overall time possible. Pushing it too hard on the bike and frequently going above lactate threshold will prevent you from running to your potential.
The run is almost pancake flat with a very minimal grade of 1% along the course. This is the point where everyone is tired, dehydrated, hungry, or cramping. For some, this is the longest 10k of their life! However, despite the tough conditions, the cool breeze from the sea helps douse the scorching heat from the sun. Current weather forecasts estimate the ambient temperature to be between 25-28°C. Aid stations are scattered along the run course so make sure you hydrate properly. As you take your cup, make sure to move out of the way immediately to allow other racers to grab their share. Start off relatively easy then build speed as you go along. Remember that it’s safer to have a little left in the tank than to gas out with several kilometers left.
At the end of the day, don’t forget to have fun! Remember this is something we should enjoy. Yes, take the race seriously but try and relish the journey, not just the destination. Hope to see you all in Subic!
As a side note, please pay very close attention to the following pointers: be polite to other less experienced riders along the course. Make yourself known but do not rattle them. We all just want to head back safely in as little time as possible. So please RESPECT other racers. As for the newbies or first timers, don’t stay in the middle of the road and follow a predictable path around each corner. “Keep Right” is something you will hear often. This means someone will probably pass you on your left. Hogging the inner lane is a recipe for disaster as the person overtaking will have to go against traffic (which is illegal) or overtake on your right side (which is also illegal). Again, for everyone’s safety, please stay on the right side of the road. If you still feel uncomfortable riding so close to the side, please practice this in training. The race is non-draft legal which means you should keep a 9m gap between the rider in front of you (riding alongside one another is illegal too). Drafting is considered cheating since you save energy by riding behind another person. It is also potentially dangerous for inexperienced riders. Also, don’t litter! Stash your gel or bar wrappers into your pocket and throw them away properly after the race.
Try and make an honest effort to throw the cups into the trash bins near the aid stations. Pace yourself intelligently during the run course.