It’s a hot, blue sky day in Cebu, Philippines. The Shangri La Mactan Resort private beachfront is already covered in people at 7am. We’ve got got one of the greatest triathletes of all time on the beach in Cameron Brown. The ten time New Zealand Ironman champion looks nervous. The heat is obviously getting to him as he is dripping in sweat already. Next to him is last year’s Kona runner up. The two time defending Philippines 70.3 champion and winner of the 2012 Cairns 70.3 back in June also look nervous. They are looking around at the competition, it will be a tough race for sure. Serious faces are on the start line ready to hit the tropical waters teaming with tropical fish. 5, 4, 3, 2,1 and they are off!
The Alaska Milk Philippines Ironkids Cebu race is away with a flurry of kids, cheering parents and two of their ironman idols looking on as starters and cheer squads for the many kids that will compete today. For these kids, this is what the weekend is about. Sure, tomorrow it will be about the Kiwi and the Australian pro’s duking it out on course, but today it is the kids that will be the heroes on the race course. Pint sized 6 years olds in their tri kit head out with the determination of getting through each leg of the race with their friends as Mums and Dad’s cheer from the sidelines.
The Philippines 70.3 organisers have set up a carnival like atmosphere on the beach here in Cebu and it is a credit to them. It’s times like these that you realise why we love the sport of triathlon. Kids from 6 to 14 are pursuing healthy activities in the outdoors with smiles from ear to ear. Family, friends, age group athletes and pro’s alike cheering them on as they take on their own race with an obvious joy and excitement as they try their best pat their friends on the back not only after the race but during as well. As we listen to the stories coming in from the London Olympics of positive drug tests, disqualifications for throwing matches and cyclists purposely crashing to get a restart to their race, it is a refreshing reminder of what sport is all about, especially at the grassroots levels. Doing your best, enjoying the moment and having some fun with your friends.
So instead of hearing the usual post race quotes from the pro’s here are a few from today’s Ironkids here in Cebu:
“It was so much fun, I saw three fish and one was a big as my head!”
“Xena gave me my medal, her pink glasses were so cool, I want to be like her one day!”
“My friend won it, he’s the bestest.”
“My Daddy was here and he high fived me when I came out of the water and then Mr Jacobs high fived me too so I high fived people at the end! It was so much fun.”
We saved the best till last from this 12 year old…..
“I’d like to thank my sponsors. Thanks Mum and Dad!”
Not sure if we’ll get quotes like that after the Olympic triathlon, but you never know?