by Juli Ann M. Sibi ,UP Cebu Intern
Cebuano priest Fr. Brian Brigoli said he knows that his mission as a “man of God” requires him to stay healthy.
At 36, he finds time in his busy schedule to train for triathlon, a grueling sport that challenges him to bike, swim and run at high levels of endurance.
“We priests should be healthy. If we are not healthy, how do we serve our parishes and our people?” he said.
On Sunday, he will be doing his second stint in the Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines.
Brigoli is a professor and formator in the San Carlos seminary in Mabolo. Formally trained in conservation, he is sought after for advice in the design and restoration of old churches and serves as vice chairman of the Archdiocesan Commission on Cultural Heritage.
He’s also been busy these past months as head of the venue committee for the International Eucharistic Congress in January 2016.
“Despite everything I have to do, I find time to train because I believe it has motivated me to be a better person, and to have a life-changing attitude, which is something everyone needs.”
Fr. Brigoli will be competing again in the 35-39 years old category with over 400 participants.
“I hope I will be among the earlier finishers,” he said.
Last year, he finished the triathlon in seven hours, 30 minutes and 31 seconds.
“My first Ironman triathlon was nerve-wracking. But it was an experience I would do over again,” Brigoli said.”
A self-trained triathlete, Brigoli has prepared for months to complete a race course that includes a two-kilometer swim, 90-kilometer bike out and 21-kilometer run.
The priest gets up at 5 a.m. to go for a run at the nearby Cebu Business Park, before attending to his seminary classes and church duties.
In late afternoons, he bikes uphill, goes for another run or swims laps in the pool. He also turns to coaches for training programs.
He avoids oily foods and sweets, and has built up his stamina on protein-rich food and vegetables.
“The diet with a healthy amount of training has really helped me with my day-to-day activities. As I do my work, I feel more energized, and I feel like I have the capacity to do anything,” he said.
Fr. Brigoli said he never saw himself as the athletic type before.
“When I first heard of triathlons, I thought to myself, why would anyone put themselves through that?” Brigoli said.
Two years ago when he was assigned to Carcar City as parochial vicar of the St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish, he was inspired to keep fit by joining the Kagumkum Runners of Carcar.
As a team member, Brigoli joined a marathon, Ika-2 Halad ni Leon Kilat, which proceeded from Parian in Cebu City to Carcar City.
With fellow members, the priest also trained in biking, and refined his swimming skills.
Since then, he began joining multi-discipline events like the XTerra Off-Road Triathlon as part of a relay team, and several triathlons like the Tabuelan triathlon.
Fr. Brigoli said becoming a triathlete is a year-round commitment that has changed his outlook on the importance of good health.
He said he hopes colleagues in the clergy would be encouraged to choose a healthy lifestyle as well.
For Sunday’s Ironman 70.3, Fr. Brigoli will be pounding the concrete in his Asics running shoes and wearing a tri-suit sponsored by Deca Homes.
He will use a two-year-old customized bike tuned up by mechanics in Bikeology.
He said he isn’t upgrading the gear of his bike because he believes this was his “lucky gear” that will take him to the finish line.