Last weekend, it seemed all Cebuanos were out welcoming athletes to the Ironman 70.3 Regent Aguila, starting with “free hugs” at Cebu International Airport and cheering them on during the triathlon. This is the 8th year Cebu has hosted Ironman 70.3.
Coming from 57 countries, participants traversed four cities in Cebu and the waters of Mactan’s Hilutungan Channel in their 1.9-km. swim, 90-km. bike and 21.1-km. run last Sunday, Aug. 11. (The “70.3” refers to the total distance in miles, or 113.0 km., covered in the race.)
The athletes also saw some of the province’s most beautiful resorts with the swim and half-marathon in Mactan island while the bike route took them through the cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Cebu and Talisay, crossing on Marcelo Fernan Bridge to mainland Cebu and back to Mactan.
“The Ironman 70.3 Regent Aguila is really part of Cebu’s social calendar and Mactan has always taken the spotlight. Triathletes, both continuing and new, enliven their competitive spirit as they participate in one of the most distinguished and grueling races in the world. It is a celebration of both victory and camaraderie, and BE Resort Mactan has been with them every step of the way since it began in 2011,” says Grand Benedicto, president of Enrison Land, Inc., the company that owns BE Hotels and Resorts.
On Ironman weekend, BE Resort Mactan “ensured that every athlete was afforded service beyond the expected, from hello to see you next year, Ironman!”
The 163-room contemporary resort is set on a 5,000-sqm. beachfront property in Punta Engaño, Mactan. It was renovated in 2011 with architect Luijo Nakpil as principal designer.
This year, BE Resort Mactan displayed its six-foot Ironman 70.3 Regent Aguila stand-up sign where triathletes happily had their pictures taken for posterity. Athletes began arriving on Aug. 9, Friday — competitors for both IronKids (a shorter distance) and IronMan. They came all geared up with their bikes ready for assembly in a space the resort provided.
On race day, breakfast was available as early as 5 a.m. “The spread consisted of a balanced meal but of course we had carbheavy dishes like chicken and pork rice toppings added to the chef’s menu and available only during Ironman. Athletes usually load up on carbs two days before the race. We had proteins, too, like Trio Buffalo, a plate of chicken wings with just the right kick of spice,” Grand says.
The resort’s two dining outlets — the breezy and beautiful Salt restaurant and bar, which serves Western comfort food and Asian specialty dishes, and the outdoor Deck with views of Hilutungan Channel — were filled with athletes loading up for the big race, and their families.
On Saturday, the resort staff created Ironman-theme sand art on the beach. It bore the three sports covered by the triathlon: swim, bike and run with BE Resort Mactan’s cheer, “Go, Ironman, Go!’’
“Our mantra at BE Hotels and Resorts is service beyond the expected. We make sure our guests arrive happy and leave happier. This holds true with the last Ironman season. We had zero complaints — and our team is proud of the guests’ feedback. This is also the first time after eight Ironman seasons that our regulars saw a new, refreshed look for BE Resort Mactan,” Grand adds.
On race-day Sunday, the resort put up BE showers outside the entrance, which was on the race route, for triathletes to cool themselves from the harsh midday sun as they ran the half-marathon. The staff also offered ice-cold water on the road to quench their thirst or, as most did, splash their faces with.
Two Australians took the first and third place, Tim Reed (4:01:19) and Tim Van Berkel (4:03:11), and Kiwi Mike Philips the second place (4:02:08). Best Asian finisher was two-time SEA Games triathlon gold medalist Nikko Huelgas (4:24:54).
In the women’s division, Swiss Caroline Steffen (4:24:08) won her fourth Ironman title in the Philippines, followed by Dimity Lee Duke (4:36:47) and Courtney Gillfillian (4:39:18).
BE Resort Mactan had its own feast to celebrate the participants’ victory — the Ironman Finisher’s Feast, a sumptuous buffet.
“After the race, the triathletes lounged around the resort and enjoyed the facilities, loving the resort’s boutique feel. We have guests that stay with us year after year because we take care of them. We have special rates for the triathletes, airport transfers, info service, etc. It’s really a community now.”
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BE Hotels and Resorts is owned and managed by Enrison Land, Inc. It currently operates two resorts: BE Resort, Mactan and BE Grand Resort, Bohol. For more information, log in to www.beresort-mactan.com. Call (32) 236-8888, (0956) 271-2000, email [email protected].
Visit the author’s travel blog at www.findingmyway.net. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @iamtanyalara.