Hagedorn to host Mountain Bike Championship in 2009 (Sports)

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Oct. 6 (PNA) -- After more than four years, the clean and green city in the forest will host another cycling competition dubbed as the "2009 Puerto Princesa Mountain Bike XC Challenge" on January 29 to 31, 2009.

Mountain bike aficionados will recall the 10th Asian Mountain Bike Championships which was held in October 2004 at the Edward S. Hagedorn Mountain Bike Course situated in the Magarwak Recreation and Nature Park in sitio Magarwak, barangay Sta. Lourdes, located some 15 kilometers north from the city proper.

Joey M. Mirasol, the event's Race Director said, the three-day competition will also be held in the said 485-hectare park, a forest reserve overlooking picturesque Honda Bay.

Mirasol said that Mayor Hagedorn has been supporting the said cycling event, believing that it will not only promote sports tourism, but also highlight the city's commitment to environmental friendliness.

He stressed the competition will be a big boost to the city's tourism industry, as Mirasol said it as a great avenue to showcase the warm hospitality and the scenic nature spots of Puerto Princesa.

Hosting the mountain bike competition will further firm up Puerto Princesa's claim as the Sports Tourism Capital of the Philippines , he added.

He further said with the promotion of sports tourism here, more tourists will visit Puerto Princesa, thus increasing local economy and foreign investments to enjoy the peaceful ambience, the beauty and splendor of its nature frontiers and scenic spots.

The event is organized by bikepalawan.org, a local group of cycling enthusiasts advocating the enactment of city ordinances that will make Puerto Princesa a bike-friendly city.

Mirasol said it will not be an international event similar to that of Asian Mountain Bike championships, but he said, some bikers from Singapore have expressed their interest to participate in the event.

This early, he believes that competition will attract a large number of mountain bikers from all over the country.

The organizers will be modifying some portions of the existing Cross Country Course to make it more friendly to the 2009 competitors.

The course was originally designed for the Asian Cycling Confederation's 10th championships and is considered to be highly technical.

The organizers will be working closely with Oscar "Boying" Rodriguez Jr. of Danao City, the country's only Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) accredited Mountain Bike Commissaire, for modifications that can be introduced to make it more bike-friendly, yet remain challenging.

Preparations are now being undertaken by the organizers, led by Mirasol.

The competition will involve four categories, namely; Men's Seniors, Men's Executive, Men's Masters, and Ladies Open

Organizers are allocating the amount of P500,000 for awards and prizes for the winning cyclists.

Likewise, the organizers are working with carriers and hotels so that participants may spend less than P8,000 for four days and three nights in this paradise city, including airfare and free tour to the city's tourism pride, "Underground River".

The 8.2 kilometer Underground River, the world's longest, is currently number one among more than 300 nominees to become one of the "New Seven Wonders of Nature" in the ongoing worldwide search. (PNA)