With the sign blazing bright and the crowd excitedly cheering the racers on, it was the perfect day for a race in beautiful Cebu. The occasion was the Alaska IronKids triathlon, and for one extraordinary family of racers, the event would be nothing less than bittersweet.
This would be the final Alaska IronKids competition where the Borlain sisters, Sam, Tara, and Chezka, would all be competing – Sam, aged 14, has been taking part in the triathlon series since the first edition six years ago, and the time had come for her to end her IronKids career on a high note. As usual, she and younger sibling Tara took first and second place, with the latter edging out her older sister by 26 seconds. As they embraced at the finish line, the gravity of the moment wasn’t lost on observers – It was the end of an era.
Raised from a young age in the value of active sport, each Borlain sister has dedicated themselves to becoming the best possible athletes they can be under the tutelage of their father Ringo. A former Mr. Universe contestant, Ringo well knows the positive things that can come from a life of sport, having lifted himself from humble beginnings through hard work and discipline.
The Borlains’ commitment to their vocation has seen the sisters win scores of athletic events, from Palarong Pambansa to varsity-level competitions, but one would be hard-pressed to find any sense of competition between the siblings, who are always the first to congratulate each other when they win. When asked about it, they say that seeing their sisters do well brings out the best in them, and today was no exception.
“Today is fantastic. The girls delivered, and they’re happy!” a beaming father Ringo told PlayPH after the race. On Sam’s final IronKids, he said, “We don’t look at it as her last race, it’s just her last year for this Cebu event, but absolutely, there are plans ahead, and they will definitely continue training and competing.”
When asked about Sam’s moving into a new age bracket of competition, Ringo said the training would definitely evolve to match. “It will take more time, it will be more challenging, but that’s how to do it. You have to level up.”
Levelling up is something this family does extraordinarily well; Anyone who’s ever seen the Borlains in full-on race mode can attest to the fact that they are among the most dedicated, focused triathletes in active competition, making the contrast when they act like regular kids all the more remarkable. Well-mannered, charming, and intelligent, the fact that they have been so successful at integrating the demands of triathlon with their family and school lives is nothing short of admirable.
When youngest sibling Chezka topped the 6-8 category later in the morning, it gave the Borlains yet another reason to cheer.
When the awarding ended, trophies were distributed, and photos taken, a happy Borlain family could be seen exiting the race grounds, laughing, smiling, and overall glowing from the just-completed thrill of competition. Sure, there would be another, race, another round of challenges, but at this moment, those could wait. For these racers, now was time for a well-earned celebration.