The Bellevue 5150 Bohol is definitely one of my favorite races of all time. It has this calm and relaxed vibe that’s a great way to cap off the racing season. The size of the race, the venue, the course, and the timeframe is a perfect “racecation” if ever there was one. One of the smaller races of the Sunrise calendar, it lends itself to a close and intimate atmosphere that is well suited to Panglao. The island, a few kilometers from Tagbilaran airport and mainland Bohol, is the perfect mix between remoteness and civilization. This makes for great racing as the pristine beaches, wide open roads, and flat terrain allow you enjoy pushing through the race course. With the event taking place towards the end of the year, there’s less pressure as the larger races are already done and dusted. More importantly, the family can tag along as this race is a great way to combine “business with pleasure.”
The swim consists of a single loop parallel to the coastline. Since the shore of Panglao is very long and shallow, you’ll need to walk a few hundred meters to reach the swim start. Keep this in mind as you wait for your wave. It’s best to arrive at the beach early than to miss your gun start. There are sandbags laid down along the shore from the beach all the way to the start of the swim but you’ll definitely have to wade through the water. As you make your way out, keep an eye out for sea urchins as the beach is full of them. Make sure you don’t damage the corals (or cut yourself on them) along the swim course. Being a water start race, you’ll need to practice treading for a few minutes before the gun start (or begin a few hundred meters back near the sandbags). The waves and current are neither calm nor strong. I’d give it a 7/10 in terms of difficulty. Once you get past the 500m mark, the waves start to pick up and the current is more pronounced. Make sure you pace yourself correctly during this time. Once you reach the turnaround point, it’s generally easier and more enjoyable. You’ll get to see the coral reefs a few meters beneath you. Just make sure you don’t run into the larger ones especially when tide is low.
The bike is generally flat, there are some hilly sections but it shouldn’t be difficult at all. You can stay aero for most of the race especially since they close down the roads from traffic. This year, the course will consist of two loops. This means there will be some more traffic along the highway as the front pack laps backmarkers. Remember to always stay on the right side of the road. This will allow for easier overtaking and a smaller chance for accidents to occur. Riding in the middle of the road (blocking), and tailing another rider (drafting) will merit time penalties so please avoid them.
The best tip I could give any participant is to focus on maintaining a hard yet steady/sustainable effort throughout the bike course. It’s tempting to push too early (especially when there are lots of people cheering) but you’ll risk gassing out towards the end. Remember, it doesn’t end in T2! Speaking of T2, the final stretch going back to Bellevue is narrow and crowded. There are lots of spectators lined up along the roads and you’ll have to share the road with the runners also. Make sure you ride properly and safely on your way to T2! There have been some accidents here in the past so be cautious.
The run is simple. It’s an out and back course to a road that’s somewhat parallel to the bike course. Like what I said earlier, part of the run course will share the road with the bikers. Make sure you stay in your lane and be cautious while passing. Don’t go into the path of cyclists and other runners and keep your head on a swivel.
Once you pass the first two aid stations, aim to pick up the pace. It’s straight as an arrow and well-cemented. However, be weary of the incline as this segment is what we call a “false flat.” It may seem completely flat from afar but there’s a very mild 1-2% incline. You’ll usually notice it when you’re on your way back and picking up the speed. The course is generally hot and humid so it’s best to hydrate properly. A word of warning, the monotony of the course gets boring midway but stay focused and motivated, remember to push harder towards the end! I assure you, the culmination very memorable because it’s a beach finish!
Make sure you hydrate properly, get a massage and ice bath (in that order), and get some calories in. The food provided by Bellevue and Bohol Bee Farm (ice cream) is worth the 51.5km of racing!
(Cover photo by Francis Campos)