–Impressions of Xterra Philippines 2014 by a (local) foreigner: John Sadler
Wind back one day as Marv, Penny and I step down from our flight, PAL PR847. It’s 8:30am and it is raining. The bikes clatter their way through the airport carousel. Luckily, the bike crew at All-Terra did a good job with the box and packaging. Our van is here so we load up and we are off to the Crimson Hotel for registration. It’s slick here, within 10 minutes, we have our race pack.
Our race numbers were applied in four locations by maganda babaes and the local mechanics were building our bikes (all at no charge!). I opt for a massage while Marv sorts the Transition bags. Smooth as!
We dropped the bikes at the transition, checked in to a Liloan hotel by the beach and catch up with 20 other athletes from Manila. We hanged out and talked sports. We ate heartily and went to bed early. Early 4:00am start tomorrow…
The open sea swim is a two lap 750m box course (named after the local jellyfish) with a nice 100m run in knee deep water to the bike transition. It was text-book… Gica our swim coach put us through a set of comprehensive warm up drills prior to the starter gun.
Transition was smooth, I’ve been here before; Ironman NZ and Xterra NZ, no problems. Drop the googles and cap, MTB shoes are lubed, quick drink and squeezy, helmet & glasses on and we’re all running with bikes to the gate. Cranking down the road then it’s 4WD and single track weaving through houses, trees, kids and dogs, Filipino style! I’m feeling good, legs are fresh and I’m passing riders. The first hill climb is concrete but it’s long, steep and I just noticed how hot and humid it is today…better drop into the 32T, I might need my legs on the run.
The bike course is two laps approximately 20km each climbing one (substantial) hill. I hit the top of the climb (it’s hot as hell), and we are going down, so it’s time to recover. But wait! This is full on technical coral rock steps and drop-ins! Plus, it goes on forever! I’m through it, all my skin in place but I can hardly hold the bars with sweat pouring down my arms!
My muscles are tight …
”Oh no it’s a false bottom!”
Just keep going!
The riders are finally in premium single-track, it flows tightly with kickers and big fun! The crowds are seamless so I give them some air-time off the kickers…oh yeah! This is why we mountain bike!
The new FS01 from BMC kicks serious butt! The carbon fiber frame made the full-sus a sub 23 pounder dually 29” rocket-ship. Hats off to All Terra for they sure know how to put the pieces together!
I’m 16th place at the transition. I passed a few elite riders and I’m off again.
Hey, what’s up with my legs? Cramp in the quads AND hamstrings. Good thing the calves are still working. Maybe taking only one bottle on the bike was a BAD idea. I’m dehydrated and 10km to run up and down two exposed rocky hills and the weather is not helping—its getting hotter! I’m taking in every drink station, water & sports drink into and over the body. I was in contention for a Podium but now it’s going to be a battle to make the line. You hear athletes talk about ‘hitting the wall’ and being in the ‘pain basket’… well, I’m in deep and it hurts!
The run is rocky and the climbs are almost easy compared to the descents where my quads keep cramping. I’m coming down a loose shale descent; this isn’t good I’m suddenly on my butt sliding to the base. Wouldn’t be so bad but I’ve got a hamstring cramp and I’m doing 5km/h on my back down a rock face.
I’m limping a bit but I can see the finish banner, I zip up the Tri-suit, wipe the saliva off my face and try to grin while I stride out…actually, I’m shuffling but it’s going to get me there. The girls put on my finisher’s medal, gave me Gatorade and steer me to the massage tent. I get a Cebuana goddess who works every muscle for what felt like an hour.
I’m relieved, had a little cry and I reflected on a tough day out.
Come award giving time, “John Sadler first place 50-54 age group”
Pare, are you serious?
It must have been tough out there for everyone.
Watch out, Maui, here I come.
John is a former pro mountain biker, engineer, and father. His family is now in Australia but he lives in Manila presently.