The Enduro Pilipinas Series kicked off its second season at Biliran Island on 23 March 2014. Situated 960 kilometers south of Manila, Biliran was one of the places hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. Originally the venue for the Season 1 Finals, The Enduro Network decided to make it the second season opener as a symbolic “new beginning” after Haiyan. It was also TEN’s way of helping out the province through local tourism.
The course was the longest so far in the “enduro history” of the Philippines, covering no less than five stages along the slopes of Mt. Panamao. 74 riders signed up for the race, but only 52 made it on race day because a tropical depression prevented participants particularly from Mindanao and Vizayas from joining the race.
As if to remind everyone in the race of Typhoon Haiyan, the rain poured in as riders were released for the first stage. By Stage 3, everyone was wet and exhausted. The adverse weather conditions on race day, however, did not deter the participants and organizers from continuing the event. This was, after all, enduro, where both men and their machines were put to the test.
By the time the riders had crossed the Special Stage 4 finish, they were emotionally high as they confronted the painful liaison to Special Stage 5 – the longest technical descent of the course.
Bike lamps were required as the race was to start before dawn, but it turned out these were used on the last stage as the riders were released late afternoon, with the stormy weather making what was officially summer, dark and foreboding.
Nonetheless – perhaps even because of the difficulties – the Biliran Leg set a benchmark for the second season and perhaps for all major enduro races in the Philippines. Out of the 52 participants, 41 finished the race. Season 1 champ Nilo Estayo led the field with 1:05:14, but his time was closely followed by Mitchel Beatriz with 1:05:20 for second, and Joseph Obra with 1:05:32 for third.
All-in-all, the Biliran Leg is ranked as the most epic enduro race to date – epic in its scale and difficulty, and the participants and organizers showed the true spirit of enduro that day.
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Pictures: Tomas Tirona