THE Ironman Challenge is a motoring endurance event for cars and motorcycles that goes around a 1,200 kilometer route around the island of Luzon. This event has been at the center of a controversy lately, with the Automobile Association of the Philippines issuing a very strongly worded press statement condemning the event for being a de facto street race after two innocent motorists figured in a serious accident when they had to avoid two over speeding participants. This unfortunate event has put all other endurance events under a microscope. What is sad is that there is a danger that endurance events may be outlawed because of this tragedy.
The Ironman Challenge has a recommended average speed of 50 km/h and at this average it would take more or less 24 hours to complete the distance. In this Ironman Challenge the fastest finisher did it in around 12 hours, which meant an average speed of 100 km/h. It is important to take note that this is average speed. This includes the time for refueling, restroom breaks and other stops. There are also roads especially in the town centers where one is running way below 100 km/h. Thus, to get an average of 100 km/h there are portions of the route where the participant must be traveling at ridiculous and dangerous speeds. It is illegal, dangerous and negligent to run at such speeds.
In my opinion, the organizers of the event cannot exonerate themselves from this tragedy just because they have a written rule that all participants must follow the traffic rules and regulations. They should have marshals all over the route to police their participants and if anyone is seen violating traffic rules and regulations, be automatically excluded from the event and be barred form continuing in the event. There was no such thing. In fact this event has been running for many years now and it is common knowledge among enthusiasts that the recommended average speed of 50 km/h has been completely ignored by most of the participants and a lot are there to break the previous year’s record.
Endurance events such as this one should not be allowed as they really are de facto street races that endager public safety. However, it would also be wrong to ban all endurance events all together.
Cebu has one of the Country’s best if not the Country’s best endurance runs. With confidence, I can also say it is the best organized endurance run in the Country. This is the Tour de Cebu. Like the Ironman, it is a 1,000 kilometer drive. Unlike the Ironman, which is over in 24 hours, the Tour de Cebu covers the 1,000 kilometers in three days. Moreover, the Tour de Cebu comes with pace notes for every stage of the drive and clearly defining the average speed required, as opposed to the Ironman, which has a “suggested” average speed.
In the Tour de Cebu, there are penalty points for arriving at a predetermined check point too early or too late. In other words precision and accuracy is required. There are no speed records to speak off or to make or to break. There have been three Tour de Cebu events and not once has there been any talk of any of the participants during the event breaking any of the traffic laws rules or regulations.
Apart from these organized endurance runs, there are a host of informal drives and rides taking place in Cebu every weekend. We already have a number of car clubs and motorcycle clubs locally. On any given weekend. we see groups going everywhere: to the north, the south and the west on different varieties of motor vehicles. This makes the Ironman incident a wake-up call for everybody. We are not only obligated to follow the traffic laws on formal events, but every time we are on public roads.
The internet has flooded us with so many stupid motoring videos where the reckless drivers look like heroes, doing stupid things on public roads. Let us not look up to those people and at all times keep public safety in mind every time we embark on a road adventure be it an informal one or an organized event.