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Titan 77.7 Philippines: Race Review of Asia’s Toughest Duathlon

Location: Clark Freeport, Pampanga, Philippines

Discipline:          Titan 77.7: 4km run-100km bike-21km run (Individual and 2-person Relay)

                             Titan Jr. Sprint: 4km run-30km bike-4km run (Individual only)

 

Overview

Titan 77.7 Philippines earns its tagline as Asia’s toughest duathlon race with a challenging duathlon format and a 100km bike course that is only 18% flat.  On its second year, Titan 77.7 Philippines grew its registration by 30%, bringing its total participation to 550 duathletes.  Immediate and positive feedback from the race bodes well for the Philippine-made race brand, and organizers are ready to implement a campaign that will open it up to international participation.

The race event area is located at the Filinvest Mimosa Leisure City in Clark Freeport, Pampanga.  The bike transition, the start and finish line are all within a walking distance of each other, which is a convenient event layout for spectators and supporters of the athletes.  

Clark Freeport is the de facto duathlon capital of the Philippines, with its roads and facilities tailored to this type of race.  Located 80kms north of Manila, Clark was a former US military air base and was the largest base outside of the US mainland during its operative years.  It was the strategic supply point during the Vietnam War, and only closed when the nearby Pinatubo erupted in 1991.  The Philippine Senate eventually declined on a treaty renewal which led to the air base developed into a tourism and economic freeport.

How to Get to Clark

The Clark International Airport is located within the Freeport, making it a convenient option for international athletes. Clark International Airport now has flights from Singapore, Incheon, Korea, Taipei, Dubai, Doha, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Macau. Moreover, domestic flights now include Caticlan, Davao, Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, General Santos, and Cagayan de Oro.

If you cannot find a flight through Clark, Clark is a 2-hour bus trip from Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).   Air Asia operates a direct Kuala Lumpur-Manila flight route via NAIA terminal 3.  The Genesis Bus Company operates a daily point-to-point bus route from NAIA Terminal 3 straight to Clark for around 8 USD one way. 

If you are in Clark already, moving around would not be a problem.  Taxis are aplenty at Clark and make sure to download  Grab app, for transportation and quick food delivery options.

Accommodation

There are plenty of accommodation options within Clark Freeport, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. Being a tourism and business hub, it boasts of 4,000+ hotel rooms.  Some of the most popular options include the Quest Plus Conference Center, Hilton and Royce Hotel.  The major hotels are also a walking distance away from the most popular dining destinations and cafes.

Check out: 15 Best Hotels in Clark

At the Titan 77.7 race venue at the Acacia Park of Filinvest Mimosa Leisure City, the race hotel Quest Plus is just a 50m walking distance from its doors to the critical race spots.  The other hotels are just 1-1.5km away from the race venue and other dining spots. If you want to walk, run or bike around the area, Clark is a safe-haven for runners and bikers as it has its own exclusive run and bike path lanes.

See also:  ITU's Best of 2018: Best Swimmer

Pre-race Activities

Race Kit claiming happens on the Friday and Saturday before the Sunday race.   The Race Kit collection area is usually in Cycles & Brew, a bike and coffee shop affiliated with the organizers.  Participants can have their bike assembled and tuned up for race day.  Bike services are affordable compared to other international races in the region.

image by Filinvest Mimosa
image by Filinvest Mimosa

If you haven’t read the athlete guide, the organizers set-up a Saturday live and online race briefing at Cycles & Brew.   Cycles & Brew can easily be located via waze and google maps and is within the vicinity of Clark’s famous Parade Grounds.   Last-minute nutrition of race gear can be purchased at the bike shop.

Titan 77.7 Course Review

Run 1: 4kms

The first run of 4kms is an appetizer of the longer 21km second run, and you will have a glimpse of what you will tackle later on.   The run is mostly false flats, but what is forgiving is the run path is mostly covered with decades old sprawling acacia trees.  The run will first take you near Mimosa golf course, and will come back to exit the resort and into Clark’s Parade Grounds.  There will be nothing exceptional on the first run as it is very short, but depending on how you tackle it may severely impact the next two legs.  

Taking caution as it is a long distance race, most coaches will suggest that you treat the 4km run as warm-up and never go into sprint mode with the faster runners.  You should come into transition 2 as still relatively fresh, specially on the legs, but already warmed for the long century kilometer bike leg.

Bike Course: 100kms

Organizers had to deviate from the original course as road construction is ongoing on the SCTEX Access Roads.  The original route has a long 8km false flat to a small uphill section wherein you could make a steady, put your head down effort pace in your aero position.  That was washed away with what turned out to be a slightly technical but definitely harder race with numerous short 2-4km uphill efforts.   Though the climb efforts are almost instantly rewarded with rest with downhill sprints, the bike course made it difficult to maintain a steady pace.  The difference is around 400m of additional elevation, making the total to more than a thousand.   While a thousand meters of elevation won’t excite veteran cycling enthusiasts, it is enough to elevate lactic acid levels in a long distance duathlon race. 

See also:  How To Warm Up Before Your Run | Get The Most Out Of Your Running Workout

One more thing to note, the original route can be said that heat can be a factor as there are long shadeless paths to conquer.  In this deviated route however, there is enough tree shade to give more cooling bonus.

Steady pace is still the goal, hopefully around 60-65% of your FTP, if being conservative, and a bigger cogset 30-32 at the rear will help you spin it at the harder segments.   With 10kms more of the cycling leg of a 70.3 or an half-iron distance, legs are more likely heavy coming into T2.

Check out the Best Images from the 2023 Titan 77.7 Philippines

Run 2: 21km

This is the turning point of the race, and this will likely determine if you executed your nutrition properly, and also did a great job pacing yourself on the first two legs.   It will also show on this leg if you have enough transition bricks, or punishing long bricks as part of your preparation in this long distance race.

The course at the first 2 kms is the same as the first run but will extend up to the 3.5km u-turn point at the other side of the parade grounds.   It is a 7km x 3 laps affair and each time, you will pass by the Cheer Zone area and the Finish Chute at Acacia Park.  The course is mostly shaded by acacia trees and the weather on race day was mostly overcast.  The cheers from the crowd are a good boost mentally.

The course elevation in the run is mostly long false flats and it will vary on every turn you make.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to make your Titan 77.7 race a truly memorable race-cation experience : The Race-cation Guide to Racing in Clark Freeport Zone, Philippines

 Conclusion:

Based on participant feedback, the Titan 77.7 long distance duathlon earned its claim as the toughest duathlon race here in Asia.   It should remain a staple in Asia’s long distance race circuit.  Organizers are promoting it heavily as a bucket list race for long distance enthusiasts, and the 2023 edition was a good addition in their portfolio in making it look and feel like a true international race.  The race kit swag included a 7 inch 400 gram finisher medal, a memorabilia that exactly fits and deserving for the accomplishment. 

If you are an duathlete looking for a race that can test your limit, Titan 77.7 is a challenge that you can take on without breaking the bank. 

The 2024 race will be on September 15, 2024 and registration will open on October 2, 2023 at the Titan 77.7 Philippines web page.

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