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Gun start 2021: Ironman Philippines is back

By Bim Santos Published Nov 23, 2020 2:34 am Updated Nov 23, 2020 3:31 am

A year after the COVID-19 pandemic put a damper on what was supposed to be another big year for the country’s fast-growing triathlon community, endurance athletes again have something to look forward to — the confirmed resumption of Ironman Philippines next year.

Sunrise Events, which holds the local franchise for the global brand, has announced that Ironman Philippines will be held on June 6 next year in Subic, with registration opened starting November 20.

Sunrise Events general manager Princess Galura told PhilSTAR L!fe they announced the resumption of the race after securing clearance from the Regional Task Force for COVID-19.

Registration fee is currently at $819 (about P39,474) for Tier 3 and $874 (about P42,113) for Tier 4 (or late registrants).

Galura said the plans and protocols for Ironman Philippines “were based on the five pillars created by Ironman to stage races during the time of pandemic.”

These five areas are education and screening, enhanced hygiene, density reduction, touchpoint minimization, and athlete self-reliance.

Galura said these protocols were already implemented at Ironman races held this year, namely Ironman 70.3 Arizona, Ironman 70.3 Taiwan, Ironman 70.3 Japan, Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast, and Ironman Cairns.

Below is a video showing the various safety precautions that the Ironman organanization have put in place in order to stage a race during the pandemic.

The fineprint, however, for this year is that the race will only be opened for athletes residing in the Philippines six months prior to the race date. Asked for further details on the precondition, Galura said that the situation “will remain fluid.”

“For now, this is what we have been able to secure approval for, but we will continuously monitor travel restrictions and protocols as we move forward and get closer to race day. The situation will remain fluid and we will continuously adapt in close coordination with  the regional task force,” Galura said.

The Subic race was also given a participant cap of 800 for now, a far cry from the record turnout of 1,500 that participated in 2018 for Ironman 70.3 and Ironman full distance in Subic.

“Again, the cap will change depending on travel restrictions, level of quarantine during that time, and hotel capacity of leisure hotels,” Galura said.

Galura said they will still follow the same calendar for next year, meaning they are looking to stage races again in Davao, Cebu, and Bohol. The Davao leg is currently in open registration, while Galura said they are hoping to open registration for Cebu (slated for August) and Bohol (slated for July) by December or January after they secure the needed clearance.

“We will monitor the situation and seek guidance from the government unit involved as we get nearer race day,” Galura said.

A full Ironman Triathlon is composed of a 2.4 mile (3.86 kilometer) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km bike), and a full marathon run of 26.22 miles (42.2 km). The 70.3 distance is a 1.2 mile (1.9 km) swim, a 56-mile (90 km) bike, and 13.1-mile (21.1 km) run.

This year was supposed to have been huge for the country’s triathlon community with the slated return of the full Ironman following a two-year absence. But with the pandemic throwing a monkey wrench on everything that 2020 was supposed to offer, most endurance athletes weaned themselves on a diet of virtual races just to tide everyone over this annus horribilis. Virtual races are done on one’s own time, where participants need to complete a specified distance and upload the tracker data to the organizers as proof of completion.

For this year, Sunrise Events mounted the Ironkids virtual race from August to October.

“We also  worked on the protocols created by Ironman to stage races during times of pandemic and tailor-fit it to the different races we have locally.  We presented these plans to  the local government units involved so when they feel that it is a good time to race again, they know we are ready and have protocols in place,” Galura said.

“We have to adapt to what circumstances are thrown at us. We need to be patient and sensitive to the times and rely on each other in the community for support and encouragement. The triathlon community is closely knit so we continue to talk to each other, support each other, and provide hope that we can race again someday,” Galura added.

Despite the setbacks of 2020, Galura is bullish that the local triathlon community will be raring to race again once the heady fumes of endurance racing are again given the green light.

“The triathlon community will remain closely knit, inside and outside the sport.   One thing is for sure, athletes are raring to race once again. It is part of their DNA already so the moment we can race, I am sure we will be able to have a good number of participants,” Galura said.

“However, we know that some athletes are affected personally and will remain cautious, and this is okay too. There may be others that are immunocompromised or may have been greatly affected by the pandemic. This is expected and we know that when they are ready, they will be back, and we will be here waiting for them at the start line,” Galura added.