LEGAZPI CITY, Feb. 9 (PNA) -- With so many levels of fun and adventure from Mayon Volcano to various thrilling activities, sports has become an important component of Albay tourism.
The province also boasts of ATV rides to seaside resorts, to spicy food or furniture design to artistic crafts to the incredible welcome that every visitor receives once he or she steps into this land of hospitable people.
“We are trying to build our credentials in international sports tourism,” according to Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda.
Salceda said the XTerrra Off-Road Triathlon 2016 is Albay’s first major effort to re-project the province to one that is green and very green for sporting events as far as off-road races are concerned.
“Our tourism effort for this year is built upon sports tourism,” he told the Philippines News Agency on Tuesday.
The Albay governor said this event attracts visitors and sports enthusiasts but more than that, "It carries with it the word of mouth which is the basis for our own promotions.”
This year's XTerra Off-Road Triathlon race was the second time here. Aside from the triathlon, the province will also host the fourth leg of the Le Tour Filipinas 2016 where cyclists will circle Mayon Volcano twice on a 147-kilometer final lap set on February 18-21.
On April 9-16, around 15,000 delegates are expected to participate in 21 games during the 2016 Palarong Pambansa which the province is going to host for the second time after 63 years.
Aside from international sports competition, the Private Schools Athletic Association (PRISAA) national games are slated to be held in April 2016 with about 6,000 estimated participants.
Salceda said foreign participants in the XTerra this year have increased by 47 percent, with 236 individual participants this year compared to 231 last year, although there were 29 foreign triathletes last year compared to 27 this year.
“There was, however, a decline in the total number of participants but mainly due to connecting relay,” said Salceda.
There were 25 participants from Bicol this year compared to 75 last year.
During the XTerra Albay 2016, which finished at the Cagsawa Ruins National Park Sunday morning, South African professional triathlete Bradley Weiss survived to win the grueling off-road race starting from Sto. Domingo town, Albay.
Weiss, who placed second to Australian Ben Allen in the initial 1.5-kilometer swim, took the lead in the bike race after Allen fell from his bike on the downhill section of the 35-kilometer course.
This enabled the South African to get ahead and control the race after finishing the final 10-kilometer race through an intimidating terrain over sandy shores, undulating hillsides and up-and-down crests, and sudden river beds and valleys of Mayon with its ever freshly laid lava trail en route to victory in 2:29:56.
Allen placed second in 2:33:59 while another Australian, Brodie Gardner, clocked 2:34:08 for third; followed by Japanese Ogasawara Takahiro, 2:41:04, and Guam’s Charlie Epperson, 2:43:40, in the top professional triathlon category.
On the women’s category, New Zealand’s Lizzie Orchard also trailed Jacqui Slack of Great Britain in the swim stage but got ahead in the run stage to win on her first try in 2:52:14.
Slack placed second in 2:54:30 while Mieko Carey of Guam clocked third in 3:07:35.
In the Filipino elite category, John Lerams Chicano won first as the first Asian elite champion since the country hosted XTerra in 2011.
Although he finished fifth overall, Chicano won a double victory to keep his Filipino elite title after he clocked 2:43:17.
Jonard Saim finished second in 2:48:49 while Billy Biag finished third in 2:48:50 time, followed by Emmanuel Comendador in 2:44:53, and Rosalito Dagoy in 25:0:33 clocking.
In the Filipino female elite category, Anna Marissa Remegio won first in 3:48:22, followed by Angelica Yvonne Limcojo in 3:53:57 while Noemi Andrea Galeos place third in 4:15:39.
Cash prizes for the XTerra 2016 professional triathlete winners range from US$ 2,200 for first prize to US$ 1,700 for second prize and US$ 1,200 for third prize.
Winners for other categories received Php30,000 first prize, Php20,000 second prize and Php10,000 third prize.
The event was sponsored by 2Go Express as the official logistics and courier partner, Columbia, Finisher Pix and David’s Salon as well as Shotz Sports Nutrition, DOT/TPB, Cetaphil, Intercare, Human Heart Nature, Prudential Guarantee and Assurance Inc., Coca-Cola Femsa as official hydration partner, and Tri Life Magazine, TV5 and The Philippine Star as media partner and Timex as official timer.
“For us, that is a major achievement. We will work for a much better, stronger, higher and a more attractive XTerra in 2017,” Salceda added. (PNA) LAP/FGS/AT/CBD