Cebu Ironman 70.3 (Philippines) – Course Review

    Posted On Aug 07 2015

      By Vinnie Santana, triathlon coach at & AsiaTRI contributor

      The Ironman 70.3 Cebu, in the Philippines is the largest triathlon race in Asia in numbers of participants and this is due to a combination of this event being in a beautiful location, organized by the experienced Sunrise Events team and an Ironman 70.3 event has been the A’ race on the Philippines triathlon Calendar since the first Ironman 70.3 event in the country in 2009.


      Ironman has also announced Cebu will be hosting the Asia-Pacific Championships in 2016, this means the event will attract even a higher quality field with more points to the ironman ranking and a bigger prize purse. The winner of each age group will also be claimed Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Champions, so we can expect the level of the competitors to increase with even more international competitors, the race will also give 40 qualifying slots to the Ironman 70.3 World Championships of 2017.

      The race attracted a world class field. In the photo: Luke McKenzie 2nd place in Kona 2013 and 3x Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander

      The race attracted a world class field. In the photo: Luke McKenzie 2nd place in Kona 2013 and 3x Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander

      The article below will help you learn more about the course, what to expect from it and how to get ready for the next year’s edition


      If you ever wondered how the swim at the Ironman World Championships in Kona feels like, Cebu gets pretty close. Its a challenging but beautiful swim. One need to stay focused at their effort and pacing plan not to get too distracted by several types of fish, coral and sea life. Its only one lap, rectangle shape.

      The swim start in Cebu

      The rolling swim start in Cebu


      The rolling start is a new trend in Ironman races and increases safety of the swimmers by releasing every five seconds a small group of five swimmers at a time. In theory this allows you to swim with very little traffic and pace or draft or swimmers with similar ability.

      See also:  Ironman Cairns recovery guidelines: Learn how to get back into training


      In Cebu 2015, the participants had an extra challenge, a strong current was pushing the swimmers backwards while their were swimming back to the start line. This made the swim splits much slower than they would have been on calmer conditions and the organizers even pushed the cut off limit by ten minutes to allow more swimmers to carry on with their races.

      If your pre-race plan includes target finish time for each discipline, be very flexible with the swim split in Cebu, if there is a current on race day, some of the beginners that were predicting around fifty minutes for the swim split, were as slow as fifteen minutes extra, going over one hour. Intermediate level swimmers that were predicting forty minutes for the swim split were five to ten minutes slower.


      Cebu can be defined as a city course, fast and flat. If you ever wanted to have your best ever bike split, this is a good course for it. In 2015 the best bike split went to Tim Van Berkel with 02:03:15 showing the conditions are as fast as a race can get despite the moderate heat.

      There is almost no hills except from one major bridge connecting the swim start venue to Cebu’s downtown and another gentle slopes over canals, bridges and out of tunnels. Its a fun feel to ride into a tunnel with the roads fully closed to traffic

      Riding through a tunnel adds an extra fun touch to the course

      Riding through a tunnel adds an extra fun touch to the course

      Once you are on Cebu coastal road, it’s two flat laps that makes pacing very easy. In 2015 it was relatively windy as soon as the riders opened the first lap on the way ‘out’ with a tail wind on the way back.  Drafting wasn’t a issue in 2015, partially due to the rolling swim start that spreads out the athletes.

      See also:  Gwen Jorgensen (USA) claims Olympic Gold in dominant Rio perfomance


      The two loop run course is very straight forward and a good mix of a city course with thousands of spectators combined with nice ocean views from Cebu mainland.

      Once out on the run, you will go through literally thousands of local supporters lined up on both sides of the road, don’t get carried away and stick to your pacing strategy.


      Thousands of local supporters are present on both the run and bike course

      The run is all flat with only some very gentle undulations, a big part of the course is also shaded providing the athletes a break from the sun and the heat.

      While 2015 was certainly a hot race, both Tim Reed and Tim Van Berkel ran a 1h16 half marathon, proving the course is also relatively fast. Keep in mind that the later you start (based on your swim ability) later it will be in the day and the warmer it will be.

      Enjoy your training and see you in Cebu 2016!


      Ironman 70.3 Cebu: Best Photos

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