Pleasurable torture: Why do triathletes do what they do?

THE fifth edition of the 2017 Cobra Ironman 70.3 ended last Sunday. To the disinterested and non-triathlon citizenry, it was a bummer for their Sunday journeys as some roads in the cities of Mandaue, Cebu and Talisay were not passable from 5 a.m. to 12 noon to accommodate the triathletes. Lapu-Lapu City closed their roads used for the event from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m.
From feedback, it has gotten better every year, starting from its first Cebu hosting in 2012. The province of Cebu, with the cooperation of the three cities, made a successful reception of the more than 2,700 triathletes from 52 countries. The IM70.3 will be on Cebu shores for quite a while as event organizer Fred Uytensu Jr. is Cebu-born. Come 2018, Regent Foods will be the major event sponsor since Cobra Energy finished its five-year sponsorship deal and moved on to other pursuits.
I used to silently question the logic and sanity of these triathletes. Why would they abuse their bodies with this endurance sport? With the exception of the elite and the professionals of this multisport event, most of the participants, be it male or female, willingly brave all the aches and pains for more than five hours and with a combination of jog-limp-hop, and gleefully cross the finish line.
And then my son Emil decided to join the fraternal order of personal affliction. He got his baptism of body persecution at the XTerra Offroad Tri Series in Liloan, and then participated in events in Bohol – I’m not sure if it was in Camiguin or Siquijor – then in some Cebu municipalities, like Oslob, Barili, Sogod, and Tabuelan. The whole family supported his endeavor, but still I couldn’t understand why people do this. I asked him once, and he said something like he enjoys it. Ergo, triathletes find delight in pain. Goodness freaking gracious!
The equipment are no laughing matter, and if you’re well-versed with these two-wheeled wonders, it is just normal to drool at them parked at the transition area. Considering my son has an MTB and a roadie. Both bikes sleep in his room, mainly for safety reasons. Yes, aside from the finishers’ medals, the stamp of the sport shows – scrapes and bruises, blisters, sprains, jellyfish stings, stepping on sea urchins, and two-toned skins. Because work won’t permit him, he’d been out of the tri-circuit for more than two years.
Sadly, this year’s edition claimed the life of a 47-year-old triathlete from Laguna. He had a cardiac arrest while on the 1.9-kilometer swim leg. This was the third time that an athlete died in the Ironman 70.3. An athlete also died during the swim leg in the inaugural hosting of the Half Ironman at Camarines in 2009. In 2012, when Cebu first hosted the IM70.3, an athlete died of pulmonary embolism during the bike leg. A policeman-athlete, who was only a few meters from the finish line, collapsed and, up to the moment, still in the hospital in a delicate situation.
Iloilo was well-represented, and they completed the 70.3-mile course. Some were first-timers, while others had joined previous IM70.3 stagings and the Xterra Offroad Tri Series. Alexandra Ganzon of Team 8lanescoaching finished third overall in the female 30-34 age group. Ganzon, in her first IM70.3, was also the 2012 and 2016 ExTerra women’s elite champion.
Other Ilonggo IM finishers were Tribe Triathlon Club Iloilo’s CG Jalandoni, Florence Yul Saquian, Jose Edgar Pequierda, and Joviel Edama. Because doctors always have the last say, Tribe’s Dash Suelo was not able to compete. Lorena Blanco, Gian Hilario and Alfred Gargolio of Team Matomato Iloilo also finished the IM70.3.
I could be contradictory but I had entertained the idea of doing the bike and run legs but I’m having second thoughts and even third and fourth thoughts. I’m five years above 50 yet we hear and read of people above 60 years old doing these things. Maybe if my doctor allows me, I just might do the bike-run. That would be the day. Chances are, just like Dash, I’ll be on the sidelines. Because of a childhood experience, I have this fear of being submerged in water, thus, I can’t swim.
The triathletes have conquered the open waters of Mactan, zipped through the tri-city roads, and had been encouraged by the cheers of spectators along the 21-kilometer run route. Yes, they happily and safely endured the pleasurable torture and enjoyed the fruits of their agony. Hala, bira pa gid!/PN


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