Palaweña runner Mary Ann Rivera, 42, has always wanted to compete in the Ironman 70.3 to test both her mental and physical strength. She took a leap of faith and utilized the city’s hosting of the renowned event despite being self-aware of her limitations as a novice in the sport of triathlon.

Rivera said that triathlon is a different sport that requires more work, especially in training, than running, which she does regularly. To make it to her first race in the individual category, she had to hire a private swimming and cycling coach.

Ironman training, she realizes now, is a time-consuming process. But she isn’t deterred from starting from scratch to train safely and protect her body. She learned its dos and don’ts, as well as what foods to eat to keep her stamina up.

“Sa preparation, marami ang mga dapat i-prepare, mind and body. Dapat consistent ang training, disciplined sa pagkain, dapat matulog ng atleast 8 hours para maka perform ng maayos sa training, especialy sa swimming dahil as in zero talaga ako sa swimming. Nag pa-coach ako para lang matuto ng husto, ganun din sa bike,” she said.

Joining for the first time, and with the competition only in Puerto Princesa, she is fortunate in that she does not have to spend a lot of money to make her dream a reality.

She explained that competing in her hometown gives her an advantage because she knows the course terrain.

“Sa katulad kung newbie at sakto lang ang pamumuhay, malaking tipid para sa akin na hindi na magbabayad ng hotel, transportation, etc. Second, familiar ka na sa route. Malaking advantage din yun for me as a beginner,” she said.

Rivera, a single mother, said that her only motivation in life and in the race is the desire to spend as much time as possible with her daughter, who serves as her source of inspiration in both areas.

The journalist and university professor Kara David is one of the many powerful women in triathlon who serve as an inspiration to her.

“Inspiration ko din yung mga napapanood kung mga babae na sumasali ng triathlon. Tapos kapag natapos nila, sobrang saya nila na parang walang nangyari. Pag dating ng finish line, nawala lahat ang pagod nila,” Rivera said.

“Si Kara David na lahat ay kayang gawin. Super duper idol ko talaga siya. Ang astig nya!” she added.

Rivera is unconcerned about winning or losing. Reaching the finish line, according to her Palaweña spirit, is like reaching her dreams, which will further inspire her to race in other future triathlons.