Cebu City, Philippines – Participants of the Xterra Danao, Cebu Off-Road Triathlon Series are in for an amazing race in April as Danao is not only known as the mountainbike capital of the Philippines but its race course has also been approved by the International Cycling Union or the UCI, the world governing body for the sport of cycling.
“The UCI wouldn’t have been doing it here if it’s not ready and the level of UCI is very, very high. We’ve seen how they make courses, very, very difficult, very technical, so they saw something that is impressive here and that’s why we are also here,” said Neville Manaois, the race director of the Sunrise Events Inc. (SEI).
Manaois is referring to the several international and national mountainbike races that have been held in Danao, one of the key cities of the Cebu Province located about 48 kilometers north of Cebu City.
Mountainbiking is one of the disciplines of an Xterra and is often considered as the heart of the race.
The SEI will be organizing the event on April 23 with Danao City as host and with the help of the Cebu Province.
Fifth District Representative Ramon “Red” Durano VI said they are very grateful that SEI has decided to make Danao the host of Xterra for three years starting this year.
“Normally, the events or the races we have in Danao are local in nature and this is a good opportunity for us to really promote the place to international participants. We’ve had international events in the past, in the mountainbiking— the ASEAN Mountainbike Championships, we also hosted the Asian Mountainbike Championships, so people of Danao, they’re used to having these events but the problem with these events is the consistency. I mean with Xterra having a good record here in Cebu, we’re hoping that this will continue not just this year but for the following years to come,” said Durano.
Liloan, Cebu has hosted the Xterra from 2011 to 2014 before Albay took over as host from 2015 to 2016.
SEI general manager Princess Galura explained that they want to do the Xterra for three straight years in Danao because they want the people—both the local and the participants, to get used to it just like how Lapu-Lapu City has become a home of the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3.
“We want the event to be Danao’s Sinulog (referring to the world class festival that Cebu City is known for).”
Part of the triumph of SEI events is having a successful partnership with the local governments that agree to host their events.
“More than the financial support, it should be a sincere passion, like the concern that they want to do something in the province. Finances we can find but the genuine support police, coastguard, medical, it’s different, the money we can find, what makes a difference is that they want to host, it really puts a place like Danao in the map because ask Ben Allen (Xterra top finisher), or ask the guy from Japan where Danao is, he wouldn’t know, he only knows Cebu as Cebu but the small places no, so that is what we really want for Xterra, the town or the province has to want us to be there,” explained Galura.
With the Xterra in La Union, Ilocos cancelled, Galura is expecting more participants to sign up for the off-road triathlon race in Danao. She added that some 12 off-road triathletes have already transferred their registration from the La Union race to Danao.
Durano, however, admits that the accommodation might be a problem but that they are looking into other nearby towns like Compostela as billeting areas.
Galura added that some of the participants could also opt to stay in Cebu City, maybe at the Radisson Blu, or even in Mactan as they are mulling transportation plans to get participants to and fro.
Sustainable Race Course
With Danao known for its technical mountainbiking courses, many off-road warriors are surely looking forward to testing their capabilities in this race.
“A purely mountainbike race would require a different course from the Xterra, I mean purely cross country or downhill race, they’re more technical in nature but with this, after the swim then you cannot really give the participants a very technical course, so it will be a combination of barangay roads, single tracks but not the extreme downhill courses,” said Durano, who as a mountainbike enthusiast himself is mulling in joining the relay category of the race.
According to Manaois, what Xterra wants to create here is not only a good race course but a sustainable race course because after the event people will flock and show to others that this is what they raced in which will encouraged them to also try the course and eventually join the next Xterra race, thus putting the Danao race course on the map.
How will the Danao race course be different from Albay?
“First of all, definitely we pushed our limits in making a good experience for the participants. The Albay course is entirely different from the course that we are offering here, and the terrain is different. It is relative to say what is difficult, what is the best, it depends on the participants’ skills, so the best way to say which is better is if all of you participate. It is the only way you will be able to know but I have no doubt it is going to be an amazing race, the terrain is going to be different,” said Manaois.
The SEI race director added that participants keep on joining this race even though they experience it year on year because the conditions will change. “You practice it the week before but the week after it will be different, for example it rains, so it becomes entirely different, so that’s why people keep on joining because it is entirely different.”
Despite promising a very challenging race for the off-road triathletes, organizers assured that their safety will be the top priority.
Galura said that someone from Xterra will plot the race course with them with the bike course to be marked with blue flags and the run course with red flags as it is easy to get lost in an Xterra race.
The organizers will conduct a tour of the race course within the week of the race.
“Everyone that race here in mountainbike had a positive experience so there’s no reason that we’re not going to get the same thing because we are focusing on the spirit of that course,” said Manaois.
Aside from a challenging bike course, Danao could also boast of a calmer swim course as the waters of the Danao Coco Palms Resort is deeper while the run course will also demand a lot from the participants as it will be an uphill and downhill course.