CATNIP: Triathlon. Life. Death

CATNIP: Vida Mia Valverde
CATNIP: Vida Mia Valverde

It was supposed to be an event that celebrated life and physical prowess. Fate, however, had a tragic way of showing this to us. The 2019 Kadayawan Triathlon held last Sunday, Aug 4, at Villa Josefina in Toril, Davao City was very significant for me and my high school friends.

25 years after high school (Yes, we’re this year’s silver jubilarians of PSHS-SMC.), we decided one‘inuman’ night last May that we would do an Olympic distance triathlon relay.

Marivic would do the 1.5km swim. Geraldine would do the 20km bike race. I would do the last leg, the 10km run. We slowly and surely got ourselves into shape. In the process, we reconnected and bonded with each other.

It seemed like high school all over again, except that this time we were more battle-scarred from what life threw at us. Yet, we were still the same. We laughed a lot, inspired each other, and occasionally shed a tear or two from some remembered heartache.

But instead of gushing over boys we liked, we talked about the flawed men in our lives and how we love them anyway.

After two months of training, we were ready. As fate would have it, the Kadayawan Triathlon turned into a duathlon because the sea was too turbulent for comfort.

Huge waves were crashing on the shore and the Coast Guard could not give us clearance to swim. The first leg of the race, instead of swimming, was turned into a 4km run which our very strong swimmer hugely struggled with.

As Marivic finished the run and got into the transition area, she made a face and blurted, “Makamatay.” Little did we know that her utterance would be prophetic. Mario Marfori, a triathlete from the Blue Genes team and an ADDU batch mate, who entered the transition area around the same time as Marivic, suddenly keeled over.

He would eventually passaway in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Just like that. Vibrant life was snuffed out.Our team, named Ferrous Femmes, composed of 42-year old women, triumphantly finished the race.

Though Marivic felt like she was dying, Ge could barely walk and properly rack her bike, and I was trembling from the heat and exertion, all three of us crossed the finish line with such big smiles. It was almost silly. This milestone event is forever etched in our minds and hearts, not to mention our bodies.

This was our bid against the ravages of ageing.

More than wanting to be fit, perhaps we wanted to prove something we have not thoroughly identified. Whatever that may be, the very sudden death of a fellow triathlete, only highlights our helplessness against the unforeseen twists of fate and the siren call of our mortality.