The swim is pretty straightforward. It consists of two loops and waters are generally calm. From experience, there are a lot of jellyfish during this time of the year. In the event that you get stung, don’t panic and proceed to the medic’s tent after. Unless the sting is very severe, it should not cause you any more trouble for the rest of the race. Remember to seed yourself well during the swim start. For everyone’s safety and convenience, those who aren’t very confident with their swimming abilities should stay at the back. This will lessen the effects of the dreaded “washing machine.” It will also allow the other swimmers to avoid collisions. Also remember that if you get hit, don’t hit back. We just want to get from one point to the other; nothing is intentional. Use a strong and steady stroke; focus on streamline and form. You won’t be fighting any current for this course so you won’t need to rely on sheer power.
I graphed the course using .gpx data and based on my analysis it consists of 3 main parts.
1. Climb out of Subic (Tipo) 2. Flat Portion From Dinalupihan to Floridablanca 3. Rolling hills for the Floridablanca-Porac area (2 loops) Going out of Subic after the swim (Maritan Hway) get some proper nutrition and hydration in. It will be difficult to do this once you get to the Tipo gate. Use a light gear and spin your legs to get some blood flowing to them.
The climb out of Tipo is quite difficult. The first part is a long 3km climb with an average grade of 4%. On average, this is similar to the climb up Antipolo. It will take some proper pacing to handle this climb well. It would be foolish to go out hard since the next climb is less just 2km ahead. The second climb towards SCTEX is less than a kilometer long but has a steeper grade of 5% (similar to Bugarin). There are long technical downhills after each climb so take caution. Play close attention to traffic since the roads aren’t completely closed.
(2) The second portion of the bike course consists of a long 21km stretch of road from Dinalupihan to Floridablanca. This is relatively flat but quite windy. According to the wind data I aquired recently, there have been gusts of wind coming from the west with speeds up to 25kph. This means that relatively strong winds will hit us from the side. If this trend continues, it’s better to avoid deep section wheels especially for those who aren’t that confident with their handling skills. Aside from the wind, the roads are actually quite nasty. The vibrations from the rough concrete/asphalt can sap your strength. Thus, pacing and nutrition is absolutely crucial for this stretch. The hardest part of the course is yet to come.
The most difficult part of the course consists of two loops. This is the final stretch from Floridablanca to Porac. Heat, fatigue, and dehyrdration will make this stretch even more challenging. To reach transition, one must hurdle 3 main hills (with an average length of 1km and an average grade of 3.5%) twice. That means there will be 6 challenging hills towards the end of the bike course. While the grade might not seem daunting, heavy tired legs will make them seem like mountains. Proper pacing, a good mental/emotional outlook, and pure grit are the keys to success for this segment.
Take note of the transition flow below. Make sure you remember your number and rack your bike securely.
Think of the run course as a hill repeat workout. Each loop is 7km long and each athlete would need to do 3 loops.The grade is close to 2% making it quite challenging. The lack of shade and the ambient heat from the cement, soil, and lahar make it worse. Out of transition, most people would probably go out blazing through the downhill segment; however, it would be best to respect the hill and pace yourself properly. Fatigue is like a leech that gradually saps you of your energy. By the last loop, things will feel 3x more difficult than when you started. Once you cross the finishline, it will be pure bliss!
In closing, the race is quite difficult. It’s roughly 20-30mins slower than the Ironman 70.3 in Cebu and would need a lot more focus and determination. Because of this it is a very fulfilling and inspiring race. One would need to push hard to finish it. As Rikki Rogers once said:
Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.
Images from http://www.bikekingphilippines.com