Batangas Duathlon

The duathlon is my favorite kind of race. I like biking, and I like running, and there’s nothing quite like combining the two in one event. So when I got an invitation to try out the Batangas Earth and Water Festival duathlon, I immediately said: Oooh… Hell… Yeah!

Besides, how could anyone say no to a race which promised to take participants down to Taal Lake? So, even though, I had absolutely no practice, and could never do any track read, I signed up for the 5k-20k-3k race. I knew I would suck, but I didn’t care. It’s not everyday that you get to race in a special place like Taal Lake. It also helped that the guys who invited me to the race also threw in a free stay at the excellent Lima Park Hotel.

I just had one problem: was it going to be a trail duathlon or a road duathlon?

Apparently it was the latter. And as I looked at the rows of slick road bikes and road-optimized mountain bikes being slung on the rack at the transition area, I could only hope that these intimidating, ripped, hardcore-looking guys would bonk at some point in the race. I hoped that maybe they got dumped by their girlfriends the night before, drank several longnecks of Emperador afterwards, and were eventually going to break down crying and screeching like Piolo Pascual in some cheesy melodrama. It was the only chance I had of not sucking so bad.

Taal Lake
Taal Lake: serene and beautiful in the dawn light

Taal Lake
But fat chance. At least there was the scenery.

My only consolation was that I was seeing Taal Volcano from a lake level perspective. I had seen Taal Volcano many times before from Tagaytay. I once even enjoyed a brunch there after a motorcycle ride with some friends. But I had never really gone down to Taal Lake and seen it from its shores.

Taal Lake
The quiet lake is ideal for kayaking

So it was quite a treat when we landed at Brgy. Pusod, in the town of Balete, Batangas. As dawn was breaking, the outlines of an island slowly began to take shape in the middle of a serene blue lake. The sun’s warm golden light made the scene even more magical.

So while the other participants were busy stretching their legs and checking up on their bikes, I just soaked in the view and enjoyed the moment. Because there was hell to pay in the duathlon afterwards.

Batangas Duathlon

5K -20K-3K Duathlon
This was the first time that the Batangas Earth and Water Festival featured a multisport race. In 2013, it featured a trail run and a cross country mountain bike race. The female open category of the XC race was won by none less than Arianna Dormitorio.

So I wondered: would I be able to repeat Arianna’s feat? Then it dawned on me that I probably had a better chance of landing a spinning back fist against Jon Bones Jones.

Batangas Duathlon

Arianna Dormitorio
Guess who was at the race last year

Batangas Duathlon

My bib number was 404–the same three numbers you get when you click on a link to a page that’s offline. (Error 404! Page Not Found!) It made me wonder if the Fates were trying to send me a message.

Times like these, when you’re confronted with the grim realization that the “suck is inveitable” you have three choices: 1) go DNF, 2) go slow and enjoy the scenery, or 3) give it all you got despite knowing it’s not enough.

Batangas Duathlon

I chose number 3, although in hindsight I think should’ve opted for number 2. But when the gun was fired, I still tried to keep pace with the stronger guys. This quickly drained me on the punishing uphill run. While the route was not as difficult as Shotgun, it was still a relentless cramp-inducing uphill slog.

Batangas Duathlon

Batangas Duathlon

Batangas Duathlon

Batangas Duathlon

I also knew that I would lose even more time in the biking section. Guys that I had barely edged out in the opening run were passing me like fighter jets on their road bikes. The guys on mountain bikes with slick narrow tires and rigid forks were also doing a pretty good job of leaving me behind.

When it came time to do the final run, I resolved to make up for the time lost in the bike section. My legs were starting to cramp from the effort, but I still gave it everything. I passed a few guys on the final run, which meant that my nightmare of coming in dead last had been vanquished! Whew!

Batangas Duathlon

Batangas Duathlon

Despite my sucky finish, the race was incredibly fun. Team Ganit and Lima Park Hotel deserve some kudos for organizing this event. To the winners of the race, congrats!

The Hotel
This was the best consolation. I may not have been able to crack the top ten (or even top 15), but at least I got to rest and recover in an excellent hotel. The room was superb–it even had a bathtub where guests could soak their tired aching muscles in soothing warm water. It was also great to lounge in the pool area while drinking a few ice cold beers–the best post-race recovery drink out there. The food was great too. Special mention must be made of their really good gourmet monggo soup and pork adobo.

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Lima Park Hotel

If you’re heading anywhere near the Malvar-Lipa area, you should definitely consider staying at Lima Park Hotel. Thanks guys for inviting me and Travel Up, and hosting our stay.

Fun Run and Waiters’ Race
The second day of the festival meanwhile saw hundreds take part in the 10k, 5k, and 3k fun run. The weather was perfect for running. The temperature that morning was a cool 18-23 degrees. My legs were still aching from the duathlon so Kara and I opted to just take it easy and do the 3k fun walk.

Batangas Fun Run

We got back to the hotel just in time for one of the most interesting races I had ever seen–a waiters’ race where participants have to balance drinks on a tray and run over obstacles. It was fun to watch the participants get from point A to B as fast as they could without spilling the drinks.

Batangas Waiters' Race
How I wish they were carrying bottles of Hoegaarden towards me

As I nursed my aching body on the kerb, I wished that those waiters were carrying bottes of Hitachino, Hoegaarden, Pivo Praha or even just Cerveza Negra towards me. And hopefully they wouldn’t spill a drop of those precious beers either.

Batangas Duathlon

Batangas Duathlon

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