Cebu officials jubilate: We did itCebu Daily News
A DAY after the Ironman 70.3 races, Metro Cebu officials congratulated their localities for a successful hosting job.
“We’ve done it. We’ve proven to the world that we can host an international sporting event,” said Mayor Paz Radaza of Lapu-Lapu City, where the bulk of the activities were held — the ocean swim, a 21 kilometer run and hotel accommodations and awarding rites at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort and Spa.
Radaza said months of planning paid off as she thanked Oponganons for making a sacrifice and for being patient with the inconvenience of road closures on Sunday morning.
She pointed out that even London residents had to make a sacrifice to host the Olympics.
Lapu-Lapu set out a fleet of bancas with colorful sails to replicate Muslim vintas to cheer on swimmers and mobilized 25,000 students and volunteers to line the streets to welcome athletes.
She said the Ironman 70.3 experience would propel Lapu-Lapu City to its goal of being the prime sports tourism destination in the country. The city hosted two Davis Cup competitions last year.
A total of 1,700 athletes from 31 countries competed in the Half-Ironman in Cebu.
Several foreign athletes said they were surprised and buoyed by the sight of so many cheerers along the road and enthusiastic crowds of spectators, especially children.
They also suggested improving some road sections in the Mandaue Reclamation Area and South Road Properties, where uneven asphalt patches made the bike course uneven.
The road closure benefited taho vendor Dodong, who sold out all his snacks by midday.
From his regular spot selling taho at the park right below the Marcelo Fernan Bridge, he was allowed to go up the bridge to sell snacks to spectators and marshals.
“I’m happy my taho sold out fast. I was able to sell two rounds since 4 a.m.,” he said.
Another vendor selling bottled water took advantage of the bigger crowd by marking up his P10 bottle to P15.
“I have to maximize this opportunity with so many people. For sure they will get thirsty and buy my mineral water,” he said.
Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia described the Ironman 70.3 triathlon as a “huge success”.
“I am not the one saying it, it’s the triathletes themselves who have said it,” she said, echoing three-time Australian champion Pete Jacob, who said, “ I have been all around the world, but this is the best race, the best supporters, the most fun.”
Garcia said that was a “great kudos to Cebu” and worth the inconvenience of closed roads on Sunday morning “compared to the tremendous boost in tourism and Cebu’s image when they talk about it.”
She said the world would look at Cebu as a “possible ideal venue of other international sporting events.
Garcia also extended her sympathies to the family of the Cebu triathlete, Ramon Igaña, who died while biking in the South Coastal Road in Talisay City.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said the death was an “isolated case” amid the successful event.
He commended Citom traffic enforcers who guided motorists affected by major rerouting from 5 a.m. to 12 noon.
“I’m happy because I did not see tremendous disgust from vehicle owners. Traffic was manageable,” he said.
Since the Aug. 5 event came between a Saturday and a holiday of Cebu province’s anniversary on Monday, road traffic was light, he said.
Rama said he wanted a post-event debriefing to know where medical teams are located to avoid a similar tragedy in the next triathlon.
On the state of bumpy road sections which Ironman 70.3 organizers identified as the North Reclamation Area “after Radisson Blu hotel and before the SRP tunnel” where container trucks often cross, Mayor Rama said funds need to be appropriated for repairs by the City Council. /Correspondents Norman Mendoza, Carmel Loise Matus, Jessa Agua and Edison delos Angeles