'You just have to trust us.'
These were the words of assurances from 2017 BOSS Ironman chairman Jojo Bautista to participants, as he revealed the details of the 1,240km route of the annual endurance challenge during a safety briefing at the BMW Motorrad showroom in Libis, Quezon City, a week ago.
In an attempt to infuse more excitement and challenge in the much-awaited motoring event, Ironman organizers adopted three major changes.
These include a change from the usual counterclockwise to a clockwise direction of movement of cars and motorbikes taking the Northern Luzon loop; a river crossing in Dinadiawan, Baler, Aurora; and rescheduling the flag-off of vehicles at 10pm of January 13 instead of the usual 12:01am the next day.
The sequence of the participants’ flag-off at Hotel Stotsenberg in Clark, Pampanga, will begin with the cars, followed by the groups of 10 motorcycles, and then individual riders.
The announcement of a river crossing as a special stage prompted around 30 riders, mostly using sports bikes and some first timers, to back out from the event for fear that their bikes might end up being stuck in the deep river or swept by the strong current.
They backed out despite assurances from the organizers they will do their best to come up with better alternatives to enable the cars and motorbikes to safely cross the Dinadiawan river located at the Cordon-Diffun-Maddela-Aurora Road with less hassle. Ironman officials even considered renting a big flatbed truck that will ferry motorcycles in groups when crossing the river.
Upon learning about the special stage, participants who were mostly riding adventure bikes conducted an ocular inspection at the Dinadiawan river, and even crossed their motorcycles to check if it’s passable. Some were able to pass through the rampaging river waters, but there were a few who were swept by the strong current.
In a move that would do the great magician Harry Houdini proud, Bautista said they were able to construct a temporary bridge over the weekend with the help of the locals, and this will allow not only motorbikes but also cars to pass through the 250m river crossing. “We told them them earlier that we will do everything to make their journey safer…they just have to trust us,” he added.
Ironman officials also pointed out that local executives in the area wanted the endurance run participants to pass through their community and to see for themselves the beautiful scenery of their province.
Participants on-board cars will now be allowed to cross the Dinadiawan river using the makeshift bridge instead of using the old route in Dalton Pass, Nueva Vizcaya, before hitting Pantanbangan area and going to Hotel Stotsenberg for the finish line.
However, participants who will arrive at the Echague (Aurora) checkpoint later than 3:00pm of January 14 will not be allowed to pass through the river crossing. Instead, they will be asked to go through the normal route via Santiago, Dalton Pass and San Jose going to the next checkpoint in Talavera where they will encounter numerous road repairs and big cargo trucks.
Regarding safety issues, Ironman organizers have coordinated with local units of the Philippine National Police which will secure the area and provide police ambulances in strategic areas. Bautista nonetheless warned that participants who will deviate from the designated route will not be guaranteed assistance in case they encounter problems along the road.
Among those who joined the media presscon were officers of the BMW Owners Society of Safety Riders (BOSS) that included president Tey Usis president, and committee members Teng Soreta, Rey Clavecillas, Raymond Guevarra, and Enzo Bautista. Former BOSS Ironman chairman Raymon Gabriel stood as host for the media briefing.
Usis emphasized that Ironman is not a race but only an endurance run, requiring the participants to finish the 1,240km run within 24 hours.
There are no prices at stake for the top finishers but only special recognition for the “groups of 10” which will land in the top three slots.