By HENRY EMPEÑO
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — In what could only be an affirmation of the claim that Subic Bay Freeport now stands as the triathlon capital of the Philippines, it was announced on Wednesday that the country’s first-ever full distance Ironman race will take place here in June next year.
The 2018 Century Tuna Ironman Philippines triathlon, which is the newest addition to the globally phenomenal Ironman series, was announced simultaneously in Manila by Sunrise Events, organizer of local Ironman races, and in Tampa, Florida, headquarters of the Active Lifestyle division of Wanda Sports, the Chinese conglomerate that operates the Ironman series.
Accordingly, the Subic race will be a full 140.6-mile event composed of 2.4-mile swim leg, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run, in contrast to the 70.3 races that took place in the country in the last decade.
It will offer a US$25,000 professional prize purse and 30 age-group qualifying slots for the 2018 Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
However, next year’s much-awaited competition will only be a special edition race to mark the tenth anniversary of Ironman in the Philippines, said Wilfred Steven Uytengsu of Sunrise Events.
He recalled that Ironman debuted in the Philippines with the first 70.3 event that took place in Camarines Sur in 2009 with 583 participants.
“We at Sunrise Events are happy to be at the forefront of this triathlon renaissance and are proud to organize the 2018 Century Tuna Ironman Philippines in order to showcase one more time the best the country can offer,” Uytengsu also said.
For the 2018 full distance Subic race, athletes will begin their journey with a one-loop, 2.4-mile (3.8 km) swim in the calm and pristine waters of Triboa Bay, starting and finishing at ACEA Resort, which will also be the first of the split-transition areas.
Once onto their bikes, athletes will head out of the Subic Freeport and onto the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) for a fast and flat two-loop 112-mile (180 km) ride, which will bring eventually bring them back to transition 2 at the Remy Field here.
Then 26.2-mile (42.2 km), two-loop marathon run will follow as the last leg, taking the participants along some of the best coastal views that Subic has to offer.
The upcoming event has stirred much anticipation in the business community here, said Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) administrator and chief executive officer Wilma T. Eisma, adding that the full-distance Ironman “will be another milestone in the Subic Freeport’s storied timeline of hosting popular sports events.”
Eisma added that the SBMA takes pride that Subic “has become a favorite destination for races and sports events that require a combination of superb natural environment, challenging but beautiful courses and modern facilities for both the players and their families.”
She pointed out that race events in Subic have become a steady source of tourism revenue here, especially since the Freeport has been the site of Ironman 70.3 events in the past three years.
Meanwhile, Greg Banzon, vice president and general manager of Century Pacific Food, Inc., the title sponsor for the Subic Ironman events, said the Ironman races are seen as “the perfect platform to promote a healthy lifestyle— the core value of (Century Tuna) brand.”
“We hope that the Century Tuna Ironman Philippines will inspire many Filipinos to pursue their own fitness journey,” Banzon added.