Potholes & bad roads? Triathletes loved them

By: Dale G. Rosal, Mark Tongco August 04,2014 - 06:27 AM

Uytengsu: Repair roads and we will come back next year

Triathletes maneuver their bikes through a dilapidated stretch of S. Osmena Road at the North Reclamation Area going to the South Road Properties in Cebu City during the 90-kilometer bike leg of yesterday’s Cobra Ironman 70.3 triathlon. (CDN PHOTO/ JUNJIE MENDOZA)

Potholes and bad roads be darned. Participants of yesterday’s Cobra Ironman 70.3 are loving the “extra challenge” they posed during the event’s 90-kilometer bike leg.

The dilapidated condition of the roads has been the main concern of race organizers days before Cebu hosted its third and final staging of the country’s premier race.

However, for the foreign pro triathletes who raced yesterday, the potholes and the uneven road surface provided a new set of challenge making the event more exciting.

“I enjoyed the bike course a lot because it was challenging. The potholes and the uneven surface of the road provided a different kind of challenge,” said Australian Rebecca Hoschke, a first timer in the Cobra Ironman Philip pines who placed second in the women’s pro division. “I loved the whole experience. The community is very friendly, very warm and all of us were treated very special and I made new friends.”

Even the thousands of cheerers lining the streets to greet tired and weary triathletes drew enthusiastic reviews.

Sam Betten of Australia, also a first timer in Cebu said ““I like the route. There were lots of cheerers and I loved them. I initially thought the M loop of the bike course will be bad for us but it turned out to be more fun and challenging. There was no congestion in the bike course’s looping area,” Betten said.

SEI, the Cebu Provincial government and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) worked together to fix the roads used in the bike course by patching up the potholes overtime.

This however, did not prevent accidents from happening.

Dr. Peter Mancao, head of the Ironman medical team, said a participant had to be brought to the hospital for serious facial injuries he sustained when he crashed after hitting a spectator who suddenly crossed his path during the bike leg. He refused to name the victim though.

Some also fainted due to dehydration while a few suffered cramps.

Princess Galura, the project director of SEI told CDN yesterday that they have already anticipated accidents to happen the reason why they requested more paramedics to be stationed along the race route.

For 2011 women’s champion Belinda Granger of Australia, the Cebu experience is simply different.

“The reason we have continued to come back is not just about race day. It’s the entire race experience that you get here – from the time we get off the airplanes to the time that we all end up going home. There is no place in the world where we get treated like we’ve been treated here,” Granger shared.

However, Sunrise Events Inc. President Wilfred Steven Uytengsu has one paramount requisite.

“Cebu has been a fantastic host to us but we need the assurance that the somber road condition is going to be rectified so we have better, wider and smoother roads for all of our athletes. And if that can be done, we’d like to keep coming back year after year because we have seen the outpouring of support from the community. If that will be resolved then we will be here next August,” Uytengsu said.

Cebu’s bid for another 3-year contract with Ironman 70.3 organizers may be in jeopardy if the rehabilitation of the road network is not attended to with utmost urgency. But Uytengsu’s statement also  offered a glimmer of hope – hope for another three years of help to Cebu’s tourism industry and local employment through the Ironman 70.3 Philippines.

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