My Ironman 70.3 Relay Experience

Day 1:  Flying with the Fast, Strong and Famous

The Ironman 70.3 fever was felt as  soon as we arrived at the terminal 3 airport. VIP treatment was accorded all the participants traveling to CamSur.  This early we could tell that this is going to be an excellently organized event and we were not disappointed.

I was like a fan ogling at the elites especially the famous Ironman champions at the VIP lane where we were ushered in.  Most recognizable of them is the Ironman Hawaii World champion Chris McCormack,  Eagleman 70.3 first placer, Terenzo Bozzone and Ironman Hawaii third placer, Tim Marr.  Wow, imagine our team having the same flight as these famous athletes?  Of course, we were excited!  You can say we started our trip on a really high note.  The warm welcome at the Naga airport sure added to the excitement.

Hans, Pastor Ernie, me, Melody with Ironman Hawaii World Champion Cris McCormack

Team Believstrong members, Aumar, Melody, Philip, Pastor Ernie, Jason, Me and Hans

Team Believestrong members at the airport while waiting for boarding, Aumar, Melody, Philip, Pastor Ernie, Jason, Me and Hans

Day 2-3:  Pre-Race Prep

Team Believestrong  went to the site,  Cam Sur Watersports Complex (CWC), to get a feel of the place.   Some tested the waters while i did a short 4k around the big lake which was to be also a part of the run course.

While day 1 was perfect, these days in-between was a different story…

Our team experienced some misadventures.  Aumar, the swimmer for the other relay team has been having asthma attacks for the past few days and would likely not be able to recover on race day.  The runner for that same team  has issues in Manila and has  not arrived yet.  Pastor Ernie who will be doing an individual was still recovering from  flu. As if problems with some members are not enough, we also had problems with our equipment. Some of the bikes did not arrive as scheduled!  As a result, most of the team members were not able to do a bike course ride-out.  Add to that, two bikes arrived with flat tires.  And I thought that was it …  Meal fiasco awaits.  Waited for more than an hour for our ordered lunch and almost missed  the must-attend race briefing! Whew, judging from the series of events, it must have looked like God didn’t want us to continue…  But we kept the faith and embodied our team name … We just had to believe strong that God is in control and all will be well.

Meet the Pros press conference

Jason, me, Pastor Ernie, Rein, Dale with Ironman Philippines 70.3  Chamion Terenzo Bozzone

Jason, me, Pastor Ernie, Rein, Dale with Ironman Philippines 70.3 Champion Terenzo Bozzone

Day 4:  Raceday

Woke up early for  breakfast as our bus needed to leave the hotel by 4:30am going to CWC.  Body marking started 5am so I was also up early even if i expected to start my run leg at around 11am.  My mind says rest but my heart wants to cheer my teammates on.  Of course,  who would want to miss witnessing the events?

Being marked with my race number which left a mark on my arms darkened by the midday sun.

At exactly 7am, the starting gun went off.   The pros where 15 meters ahead of the other individual participants. After 10 minutes, the relay swim leg took off. It was  like seeing a huge  school of fish swimming in one direction.  Professionals, amateurs, newbies, men and women, young and old, each one was  trying to get the best position in the water.  Some were really fast, some were just taking their time and reserving their energy for the next two legs. After my teammates crossed the Big lake, i went to the relay tent area and there waited with my teammate Jason who will do the bike leg. After 45mins, Jason took off while i stayed at the relay tent and chatted with other relay participants.  All of us were cheering all those who took off and everyone just wanted to be an encouragement to others.  It was amazing!

Several more minutes passed and I could still see one bike left in the transition area owned by the Alamat Relay Team.  Their biker couldn’t take off as he  was still waiting for their swimmer to check-in.  It was more than an hour already so they were already paging their swimmer to check in. Unexpectedly sad things happened. Few minutes after,  we found out that Team Alamat swimmer was found dead in the small lake. I later found out it was the same Miguel Vazquez whom I had the chance to meet during my corporate days.  It was a sad development for all race participant.  Our sincerest condolences to Mr. Vasquez’ family.

By the time Jason arrived from the bike leg, it was  11am,  it was my turn to run.  Darn.. the hottest time of the  day…I started with my planned pace and maintained it up to 4k. Then I started to feel the  heat and caused me to slow down.  I was tiring so early and  losing a lot of energy from the extreme heat.  I didn’t stop at the first 2 water stations as i was donning my hydration belt.   On the 3rd water station, i decided to stop and get cold water and a cup of cold gatorade.  That helped me a lot fight the heat in my head and my body. From then on, i stopped  at each water station since it is located every kilometer,  got cold water to drink and pour over my head, neck and shoulders.  Upon entering the 2nd loop of the run, i saw my biker teammate Jason and handover my hydration belt to him. I’ve decided I needed the cold drink offered at the stations.  At 15k, i felt so very tired.  It felt like i wasn’t progressing at all.  I kept looking at my Garmin and it seemed like the distance reading was not moving!  It felt like the longest 1km i ran going towards the next water station.

Towards the end of my run, clouds started to form that it threatened to rain.  I would have  welcomed it with open arms.   But sadly it never came during my run.  Felt a few drops then was gone again.  I was soooo exhausted  I wanted to walk the last 4k and just finish it. But as soon i arrived at the last big loop around the big lake, i started to hear the music and announcers at the finish line.  This lifted up my spirit and spurred me to continue running.  As i ran nearer and nearer, the sound got stronger and stronger lifting my feet off the ground at a faster rate.  As i entered the last 8oom, i heard my name being announced, welcoming me and encouraging me to  continue and finish strong.  Reaching the last 100m, I heard my race number again, then my name, then our team’s name being announced again.  That really gave a big push.  I finished one of the most difficult 21k I’ve ever done. I did it! As soon as i crossed the finish line, the finishers medal was placed around  my neck.  I was given a cold gatorade and water  was poured over my head to cool me down.  I went to the cooling down area, had my second gatorade while the staff continued to pour water over my head using a water hose.  Exhausted but felt very much fulfilled.

At the Finish Line

At the Finish Line

TBS at the finis line: Me, Rein, Jason, Philip, Col. Dennis, Melody, Dale, Pastor Ernie, Jason. Not in photo (Deo and and Aumar)

TBS at the finish line: Me, Rein, Jason, Philip, Col. Dennis, Melody, Hans, Dale, Pastor Ernie, Jason. Not in photo (Deo and and Aumar)

It was one of the toughest race i have done. Running in the heat in one of the hottest places in the country, during the hottest time of the day really drained me.  During the presscon, Liza bentley, the winner of the women’s elite described it as “like running in an oven”.

It was difficult but finishing felt great.  It was a great experience worthy of a repeat or an upgrade perhaps? We’ll see …

God’s ways are different.

The kids and I were praying for rains during the run leg of the race.  From Jun’s updates, we knew it was scorching hot in that part of the country.  The whole time he was running his race, I would from time to time stop and keep still and pray for a strong run and that much-requested rain from above.  It didn’t come and I think I know why…

Had it rained during the race, it would definitely be a breeze for Jun running that 21k.  Without the rains, at 11am-1pm, that leg of the race became extraordinarily difficult.  It became a struggle even for elite participants however,  it also became a very special accomplishment to those who finished it.  Truly, God knows what He’s doing. 🙂

More pictures to come…..

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15 Responses to “My Ironman 70.3 Relay Experience”


  1. 1 kingofpots August 28, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    jun, congratulations! the feeling that you felt while running at mid day is the same feeling that the 1st BDM102 runners experienced along the stretch of dinalupihan, bataan up to guagua, pampanga. your run was tough but you made it. you are a true athlete!

  2. 3 Bro J August 28, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Hi Jun. what a wonderful experience for you and your team! Praise God! He showed that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. You and your team trust and believed in Him and in His delight in you, He gave you strength. The misadventures you had were God’s way of showing you great wonders that He can do for your team. Your faith and trust were not anchored anymore on the strength of your members but on the power of God. And because of this, He showed that He finish the race for you. God bless you and your team! Hope to see you soon!

    Hi Mariel, your prayers made the difference. Sometimes, it seems not heard because it was not granted but the fact is God even gave more than what you asked for. It was a sweet victory for Jun and his team because God was thier strength. True to thier team’s name, they believe strong in God! See you in races solemates!

    • 4 thesolemates August 29, 2009 at 12:52 pm

      Thanks Bro J and to your Sweetheart! Truly God works in mysterious ways. It was nice bumping into you at UP this morning. -Jun C

      Hi Bro. J, you’re right. A lot of times God answers our prayers in a different way. Because He knows what’s best, we just have to keep trusting Him and continue praying with hopeful and expectant hearts. I just loved reading your message. See you soon! -Mariel

  3. 5 kulitrunner August 28, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    congrats jun! that was one hell of a great experience… i noticed some pmtb peeps in your team ha – melody, pastor ernie and yep deo too. congrats to all of you! 😉

  4. 7 run unltd. August 28, 2009 at 4:16 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS.. You did it, Jun.

  5. 9 mixednuts August 28, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Congratulations Jun!!! I knew you’d be able to do. Congrats to your team too.

  6. 11 cruisec0ntr0l August 28, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    galeng, congrats jun!

  7. 13 runnerforchrist August 30, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    I supposed to be there too, competing for the solo event, however, it’s not God’s will yet I think…Reading your account gave me a glimpse of that tough race.

    Hats-off to you, Jun -a real warrior!

    God bless.


  1. 1 2009: The Year That Was « The Sole Mates Trackback on December 31, 2009 at 5:50 pm

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