Tri United participants share their inspiring stories
As the first leg of the four-part Tri United concluded in February, Cuevas, organizer of the annual and national triathlon, is happy to report that it’s not only the growth of participants that he considers a success, but also establishing a platform for triathletes to outdo themselves and continuously exceed their performance through the ascending difficulty level of the triathlon series.
Cuevas says, “It’s about getting the trust of the athletes to provide them with good quality race that’s value for money and provide them an avenue to exceed themselves through the sport,” he said in an interview.
More room for improvement
Despite still recovering from surgery, Claire Adorna has already bested competitors even with a gold medal from the 2015 Southeast Asian Games. The 22-year-old triathlete said, however, that she still has a long way to go.
“I have seen a lot of improvement [in myself]in the past two years, but there’s still a lot to learn. Hindi porke’t nanalo ako dito malakas na ako, hindi pa. Madami pang mas malakas when it comes internationally,” she said.
She began swimming at the age of 4, encouraged by her father who taught her using instructional books and tutorial videos. Eventually, a family friend encouraged her to give triathlon a shot. At first she thought it was quite expensive, but the same person funded her racing fee and the rest, they say, was history.
“Hindi naman kailangan mayaman ka to practice this sport. It’s really up to the person. I think the reason why people think this is an expensive sport is because everybody here is passionate about the sport. It follows that if you’re passionate about something, you invest in it. Not only your money, but your time with the sport,” said Cuevas.
Five months after an operation on her ankle injury, Adorna is already up and running, finishing the 1.5-kilometer swim, 40-km bike, and 10-km run course in just two hours, 37 minutes and 15 seconds. Adorna ranked first in the Elite-Female Category, heavily tanned with her smile gleaming from the finish line. Filipina Ironwoman Ani de Leon-Brown followed suit with 3 hours, 9 minutes and 9 seconds on record.
Vying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Adorna expressed she feels ecstatic regardless of the pressure that is placed on her. She said it’s not the gold medal that she earned during the SEA Games that imposed the gravity of expectations on her, but the fact that people are starting to look up to her.
“People are looking up to me and people are expecting so much from me. For me I just do my best in every race kahit anong mangyari hindi man ako manalo ng gold. There’s always another race,” she said after finishing her second race of the year.
She encouraged others to push past their boundaries and discover their own abilities. “Always keep on trying you will never discover your capabilities unless you risk it. Kasi lagi mong kalaban sarili mo lang eh. All the time.”
Age doesn’t matter, literally
For Sandra Reid, 59 is simply a number, expendable, like the number of races she has joined over three decades.
A frontrunner in the Tri United series, Reid has coursed past competitors in the 45-and-above age group for the standard distance with a record of two hours, 55 minutes and 54 seconds, only 18 minutes away from Adorna’s record. In 2010, she was listed by Triathlon Australia as the champion for her age group, as well as an Olympic distance representative for the country.
“It’s my first race for the year so it’s pretty tough. The hills are always tough and I run at the end,” she said, catching her breath.
The turning-60-in-September triathlete only chuckled when asked how many races she has competed in, though she recalled having competed in Ironman and in different countries in the past. In 2015, she bagged the gold medal in the Asian Triathlon Cup for nothing less than being the top overall female finisher in the Olympic distance category.
“I set myself challenges and I train shorter and faster but not too much. I’ve trained for a long time, but now it has to be shorter and faster training,” she said.
Breaking the status quo
Healthy is the usual sight in racing tournaments, but hefty is what Christian Albert Gacias is—for now. Over the course of a year training and signing up for the Tri United series, he has managed to shed 25 pounds. Now standing at 260, he proudly shows his fifth finishing medal, after completing a 750-meter swim, 20-km bike and 5-km run course.
He started running in marathons in 2014 as a means of getting fit, which eventually led to competing in triathlons. After four months of training, the Ayala property manager embarked on a race of a lifetime.
“Nagugulat sila. Paano ko daw nagagawa yun. Well, nung una hindi ko din alam kung paano gagawin. As time went by, may friends ka na makakasama ka sa training, yun yung [isa sa mga]magpupush sa iyo,” he said.
Aside from physical improvements, Gacias earned more than what he signed up for. Due to his everyday training and lifestyle change, he has learned to balance his time more and exert more discipline. Not only in training did he manage to focus, but in his work as well, boosting his daily productivity.
“At first you will think it is difficult, but you’re only setting a limit for yourself,” he explained. “To beat myself every day—the feeling of being fat—this is just one way I am able to exceed myself, because hindi ako yung couch potato na mataba.”
He also said that losing weight is only a bonus because he continues to join for fun and enjoy the sport.
“I like the races of Active Health. The distances vary, which is why you have to train harder and harder. So losing weight follows,” the 28-year old said.
Triathletes are encouraged to register early to avail of slots in the upcoming races: Tri United 2 on July 3, Tri United 3 on October 23 in Subic, and Tri United 4 on November 27 at Fontana Clark, Pampanga.