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Pico De Loro Invitational – take 2. « Mathieu O'Halloran's Blog

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Pico De Loro Invitational – take 2.

Hey readers –  last Saturday I competed in the 3rd annual Pico De Loro Invitational Triathlon in the beautiful region of Batangas in the Philippines! Its part of the Hamilo Coast Development run by SM Land which is actually the location sponsor of Alaska TeamTBB Philippines and where we had our team launch around this time last year!

I was very exited to return and compete again because last year when I won, it was in fact my biggest paycheck of the year so I knew that my athletes could also maybe win something significant for their efforts! To add, the race is on a Saturday which allows for a great beach after-party with a live band and delicious food to give an all encompassing experience to all participants!

In fact, this year had double the participants from last year, a testimony to the growing triathlon population here in the Philippines!

To add to my excitement, there was hype of a ‘King/Queen of the mountain’ competition where a special prize would be given to who would ride up the fastest over the very steep 1km incline @ the start of the bike!

I dont consider myself to be a great climber, as im tall-ish and somewhat ‘muscular’ so I have to put in more effort due to gravity versus the lighter weight Filipino Elites competing against me!

Two weeks before the race, I was informed that the prize purse would be 50% from last year…Considering me and my athlete got free entry’s and the race was close to home, I wasn’t all that bothered – simply grateful I had been lucky enuff to win the big prize last year :)

How-ever, at the race briefing, only a few hours before the race, it was announced that it had been cut further, where basically the winner would get ~80% LESS than last year…The prize purse was to be spread out across the age groups champions which allowed my little Joyette and many of my local tri friend to make a bit of cash as well to part of the entry fee going to the preservation of the environment!

What did rub me the wrong way, is that I was ‘called out’ over the micro phone in a room full of triathletes during the briefing and told “Matt your are NOT eligible for this prize” as the Elites where not eligible for the ‘King/Queen of the mountain’ competition…I mean, considering the massive drop in prize money, it would have been a nice compensation to have a shot at this prime or at-least have 2 categories: Elite, Age Group and maybe even relay for extra excitement.

The poster clearly states “fastest athlete at the top will be crowned” and of course, in the end, me and my athlete Jenny would in fact record the fastest time up the very steep 1km hill (excluding the relay) but would simply sit at our tables and look on as a pair of athletes who had climbed the hill slower than us be crowned ‘King/Queen of the mountain’…

While I may appear petty speaking out about this small predicament, its simply not in the spirit of transparent/honest sport. I love endurance events because its a ‘no-spin-zone’ where results are cut and dry – we dont get judge on our out-fits, there’s no style points, no half time break, no pre-lims, no practice runs and not time outs. Once the gun goes off, its just you and yourself to get to the line the fastest you can according to the circumstance.

I did also feel for the Filipino Elites who came behind me, picking up much smaller paycheck than expected for their hard efforts on a challenging course in the heavy heat. Elite sport performance is very much lacking in The Philippines and a situation like this does not help, in fact, it may deter some from  stepping up pursing sport more seriously due to the financial un-certainty…You can take my word for it, that the best/hardest local athletes are in fact the ones who come from under-privileged backgrounds and know what its like to work for it.

THE RACE: start was in fact @ 14h30 and when we drove into the venue, Joyette’s car indicated it was 36 degrees Celsius with very thick humidity! Just going around registration, race briefing and transition, I was sweating buckets! The beautiful white sand on the beach was like walking on fire! It was quite amusing to see all the athlete ‘tip-toe’ towards the ocean!

Once the gun went off, me and Dhill quickly took charge in the warm water and opened up a big gap on the rest of field pretty quick! In fact, last year was when I meet Dhill for the first time, he was doing the relay as a ‘pure swimmer’ and I had actually dropped him good on the 2nd loop – how-ever after 1 year of triathlon training, he stayed on my feet until I gaped him in transition!

Once on the bike, I went over the initial up/down hills and technical sections near the marina, it was an out and back so I got to see my lead over the chaser! Once on the flat/strait roads, I put my chin closer to my stem and cranked up the big gears! It was hot and windy out so I took it conservative, slam down a couple Ignite Naturals Reload Energy Gels and made sure I hydrated regularly!

Thanx to Ricky Led. for this cool pic and post race over-view!

Up and down the big hill and I bounced onto the run course with my ON Cloud Running Shoes! I knew from the first few steps this was going to be a heavy run for me…I always know from the first few strides how my run’s are going to be and this one,  I would have to fight for it – I just did not know how hard!

I ran the first lap pretty conservative with a short stride and deep breaths, hydrated, cooled myself with water and keep focused! Mid-way into the 2nd lap, my friend David rode pass on his Cervelo towards transition and shouted “he’s 45 sec behind you!”

WHAT???? WHO????? WHERE??????

I swear the closest athlete was around 5 minutes at the last bike turn around!

Now I had to fight, I bit my lip, pumped my arms and opened up my stride! All triathlete will agree, to pick up the pace in the 2nd half of a race on the run when its crazy hot it very difficult! I ran hard, no for the prizes, but rather for my ego and the fact I wanted to repeat my victory from last year since I was in fact wearing bib #1!

It was  3 lap course and starting the 3rd lap I could not tell who was where, I was lapping athletes and some where starting the run! With 1km to go I started to feel some chills and got dizzy around the small lake so I slowed down…Once over the bridge, I felt like I was loosing my balances so I walked for about 30 sec…

SHIT! I looked back and all I could see was a line for 20-25 athletes running behind me – my vision was blurry and I could not tell who was who? I started running again and ran the best I could regardless of how weak I felt!

I came down the finish shut and once again walked, about 10 steps as I struggled with my balance …I ran again in the last 50m and hit the line absolutely drained and cooked!

I made my way to the ocean with a Gatorade bottle and laid in the water for about 10 minutes, just to relax…By that time, I realized I had won with  a 4min gap – thanx for the good intention David ;)

I was happy to see Banjo get 4th place overall after being sick earlier in the week and finish off all his school exams as well to have Jenny come in 2nd Elite female less than 3 minutes from the winner while holding a full time job and being a mother! Then Joyette came across the line 3rd female overall and 1st in her age group –  as usual!

The effort really took a toll on my system, I had chills for some time after the race and really took a lot of Gatorade (thanx Ton) to get me feeling good again! After the awards, I was tired and grumpy so we just decided to drive back home and call it a race!

Anyway, I strongly suggest all Pinoy triathletes to do this event at one point or another as its an honest/challenging course with a festive atmosphere! It has everything one would want for a local triathlon and the venue has great facilities if you want to bring your family along for the weekend – in fact, if your not a member of the Pico De Loro Club, this race is actually one of the few ways you can stay overnight and enjoy the pristine beach!

See you all next year as I look to go for a three-peat!

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