by Norman Aceron Garcia
Sulong Triathlon Group athletes overpowered summer heat in two July triathlon events in Morden, Manitoba and Kenora, Ontario. In the July 11 race in Morden, the air temperature rose to a high of 36 degrees while water temperature warmed to above 22 degrees. These temperatures prompted the race director to forbid the wearing of wetsuits in the swim legs of both the Foilman and Sprint distances, while wetsuits were optional in the Half-Ironman. This directive was to ensure the safety of the race participants from heat stroke after swimming intensely for more than 10 to 15 minutes. Despite of the hotter than normal weather that day, all eight Sulong triathletes triumphantly finished the Morden race, namely:
Edward Friesen and Philip Habacon in the Sprint (750m swim / 20K bike / 5K run); Jimmy Antonio in the Foilman Duathlon (5K run / 45K bike / 10.5K run); Paquito Brucal and Ferdinand del Rosario in the Foilman Triathlon (950m swim / 45K bike / 10.5K run); Melody Balane, Norman Garcia and Murray Vanderpont in the Half-Ironman (1.9K swim / 90K bike / 21K run).
The prohibition of wetsuits didn’t dampen the willpower and determination of Ferdinand del Rosario as he completed his first no-wetsuit race. Ferdinand admits, “With my race experience, having only started to train for swimming six weeks ago, having to swim 950 metres in open water, and for the first time without a wetsuit, it was very intimidating. After a few moments of panic and self-doubt, I collected myself, prayed for guidance and strength, and broke the task down into more manageable segments of just making it to the next buoy. The more buoys I reached, the more my confidence grew, and that carried me through the rest of the race.”
Melody Balane, 45-year-old accountant working for the City of Winnipeg, was the most experienced triathlete in the Filipino contingent. She finished the prestigious Full Ironman, consisting of a daylong 3.86K swim, 180K bike, and 42K run. Melody reveals, “There is always a feeling of elation as you near the finish line. It was a very hard run due to the heat and humidity. Near the end of race I was excited knowing teammates would cheer me over the line. Every finish line is magical.”
On the following weekend, July 19, Sulong triathletes Jimmy Anis and Wystan Celestino competed in the Olympic category (1.5K swim / 40K bike / 10K run) of the Kenora Borealis Triathlon.
“The only one who can tell you ‘you can’t’ is you. And you don’t have to listen,” says scuba instructor and paramedic Philip Habacon. He was introduced to the sport just this year and came to Morden as a first-time triathlete. Philip is now setting his sights on longer triathlon distances as he intends to race in the Olympic category in Hecla, Kenora, and Pinawa and to finish a Half-Ironman next race season.
Next in line, the team will participate in various races in Manitoba such as Hecla, Riding Mountain, Pinawa, Rabbit Lake, and Kenora, as well as in Ironman-brand races in Boulder, Colorado and Madison, Wisconsin.