Police have elevated security as Cebu hosts its biggest sporting event, the international Ironman triathlon.
About 700 of the 1,700 athletes who have registered for the prestigious race are foreigners. Many are professional triathletes, others are on cross training like the British Formula One champion Jenson Button of Honda Mclaren.
Police Regional Office 7 director Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo said security detail are protecting the Ironman racers.
He said more than 500 police officers will be mobilized on race day. They will be joined by around 100 reserve cadets from different colleges and universities.
Police forces are also being deployed in the hotels where the Ironman athletes and their staff are staying.
The arriving triathletes yesterday were greeted in the Mactan Cebu International Airport with garland and cultural dances.
Triathlon teams like Timex, Tri-Clark, Polo, Greenhills, Alaska and Team Davao were some of the teams who arrived yesterday.
Farah Patiño, an organizer of the Cobra Ironman Philippines said, the teams already have reservations to different hotels and resorts in Lapu-Lapu City , from the arrival area.
Tourist buses transported them to their respective hotels.
Jose Manuel Araw, 10, one of the members of the Team Davao IronKids could hardly contain his enthusiasm. “I'm so excited to be with International Triathlon enthusiasts.” Araw said. The IronKids will race today.
His coach Felina Tadyaman, also a former triathlete, said she is bringing with her Davao ’s best. “We hope we could get a sponsors next time as we are just self-sustaining now.”
Fred Uytengsu, president and CEO of Alaska Corp. was on hand to meet his teammates, that includes triathlon champion Caroline Steffen of Switzerland at the airport.
Carlos De Guzman, team leader of Team Timex which has 25 members, hopes that Cebu had good preparations. “We'll have ocular inspection today, hopefully the roads were prepared well.” he said.
Patiño said all participants should be in town around noontime today. /Norman V. Mendoza and Chito O. Aragon, Correspondents