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Dinagat Island Challenge Race Report. « Mathieu O'Halloran's Blog

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Dinagat Island Challenge Race Report.

Hey readers – yes this race report is over-due but as I mentioned in my last blog, the memory card in my camera stoped working after swimming in 10 foot waves in Cloud 9!!! Okay, so this race was on Dinagat Island in the Mindano region of The Philippines which actually has a bit of history to it since its the home base of the Philippines Benevolent Missionary Association founded by Ruben Ecleo Senior. Having traveled some around the globe and knowing how the media can paint a very cynical picture of some locations, I always like to check it out for myself and then judge from there!

Honestly, this is what I race for these days, to see new places, meet new people and get new experiences! There was a nice chunk of prize money for top spot as well to paying 10 deep in both men and women respectively! The only down side is, that it was a tedious 12 hour travel from Manila by car/plane/tricycle/boat!

Thats Banjo crammed in the back of a tricycle with a couple bike boxes on the roof!!!

Our vessel to the Island!

The race course was honestly the HARDEST short-course race I have done in my life! It was a 2pm start, which meant 35 degrees celcius and 100% humidity as well to some decent sized waves on the 1000m swim course since it was mid day and it was an out and back 3/4 of the way to an island and back with lots a current!

A large crowd of locals was present to watch their first ever triathlon!

The bike course, was basically 27km of the Naithon Beach section in the Laguna Phuket Tri in Thailand. NO FLAT sections and all concrete with a few ‘off road’ sections with multiple 2-3km uphills that where around 15% gradient – I kid you f*cking not!!! I remained hydrated by sipping on my I.N. Refresh Tangerine Passion Fruit drink from start to finish.

This shot was taken the day before @ sun-set while checking out the bike course - there was some spectacular views!

One of the few sections I could stay in my aerobars!

The run, well it was *ONLY* 4.9km long where we had to run UPHILL for 2km strait up the same type of hills as the bike towards the Ecleo residence near the PBMA shrine. We had a whole 50 meters of flat to get ‘ready’ for this ascent that had 100′s of supporters cheering outside their homes that where slanted on the steep roads!

The castle here on the top of the hill was near the turn around point - you get the idea, sea level to there in 2km!

The spectacular Ecleo residence was one of the highlights of the run course!

Another cool view - a guitar shaped pool!

Once @ the top, well you can only go down for 2km and that was just as painful but in a different kind of way where I was glad to be running with my ON Cloud Racers to absorb the impact!  Once @ the bottom, we got discount and ran half way up the 2km half before turning left to towards the administration area.

Up, up and UP some more as every part of the course was lined up with spectators!

Woah – I did win the race but more importantly I conquered the terrain. Banjo was 2nd place and effectively earned is largest ever pay-check while Joyette won the female race and also won her largest paycheck ever!

Post race refreshment!

Who's thirsty?

All in all is was a great experience – I felt very welcomed, we where all well taken care of and it was all very safe! The course was FULLY closed to vehicular traffic as well to me personally finding the residents of Dinagat Island to be disciplined and respectfull where I was informed as well to believe  it has very low crime rate due to the dictatorship type of ruling! There is plans for a bigger race with more prize money next year =) check out for updates —> www.triathlon.reesfi.com

We had more than enuff escorts for the pre-race course reckon!

The spectacular view from our hotel balcony!

As well to a very classy carbo load supper with lots of lechon - ahahahaha!

Now, the major take away from this race is that you got to be in it to win it. This event had plenty of prize money but few locals showed up…Im sure they all have ‘reasons’ why not to but as a development coach and 3rd tier pro triathlete I am cognitive of the ‘prize fighter’ mentality needed to make a living from triathlon.

Competing for money is what pro sport is all about – when an athlete can rely’s or fall back on sponsors or funding, it can make them weak or complacent if they dont have a strong ego drive and not make them push that final 1% or take that risk and go to to that far away race that ‘cherry pick’ event in the middle of no-where against a bunch no-body’s.

Being able to race under financial pressure is no different than the pressure of racing for ‘points’ or for you countries honor – its part of the process of athlete development to be able to get a direct and tangible return from a race instead of being content with performance, which is also very very important but not what will always pay the bills and of course, its impossible to always out-perform your last race.

This is a lesson I look to ingrain in the heads of my scholars here in The Philippines. They need to be able to compute how much money can they win on a good day? How much money can they afford to lose on a bad day? How much is the travel? Entry fee? Accom? Food? Whats your next race after? Ect.?

These are all things that must be taken into consideration and are part of their apprenticeship. My girl friend Joyette has won 60 000 pesos in prize money ~1500$ USD in the past 6 months from racing. Yes its not much in the ‘real world’ but here in the 3rd world its significant as well to considering she’s an age grouper! Just like with my development athletes,  we sit down together, look at the race calendar, plan our travels/budget and see which ones she can get a return or gain experience or get a nice race-cation in. This event, she got all 3!

Anyway, after the race me and Joyette spent part of our winning and a couple nights in Siargao Island which is a world renowned surf-spot and really cheap to stay! We had some lazy mornings, after-noons in the waves and evenings getting drunk and food-tripping – ahahaha!

Here are some pictures:

Our cabana's during our stay!

Cruzin' on a cruiser ;)

Checking out the surf tower!

To surf or not to surf?

Ummm lets go body surf instead!

One of the last shots I got in before the memory card stopped working...

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