‘Ironman’ draws flak for another near-fatal crash
Late night of Jan. 13, two friends on board a sedan were on their way down from Baguio via Kennon Road. At 11:55 p.m., just when the sedan reached Camp 7, two speeding motorbikes going up Baguio suddenly appeared, and ate into the sedan’s lane. The car driver, Hendrick Reinier Aromin, swerved right to avoid the oncoming bikes, then crashed into the concrete island of a bridge. Aromin suffered a broken nose, but he was luckier compared to his passenger, Kevin Estal, whose skull was fractured.
This was what Marvin Herrera, a friend of the victims, narrated in his Facebook post early afternoon of Jan. 14. Herrera then surmised that the reckless motorbikers were “participating in the Ironman” (apparently referring to the 12th BOSS Ironman Challenge 2017, a 24-hour endurance driving and riding event that requires motorbikers and car drivers to complete a 1,200-km loop covering northern and central Luzon). In his post, Herrera implored the organizers to “…help us track the wayward rider and help our scarred friends.”
The incident report prepared by the Baguio City Police Office Station 8 at Camp 7 reflected Aromin and Estal’s claim that the motorbikers were participants of the BOSS Ironman Challenge, as Herrera claimed in private messages with this author that the bystanders who helped the two victims told them that they were waiting for the BOSS Ironman participants to pass by at the time of the accident. The police report did not identify the identity of the riders nor the license plates of the motorbikes, as the riders did not stop or slow down after the incident.
In his private messages, Herrera also added that Aromin requires reconstructive nose surgery, while Estal’s fractured forehead needs a titanium plate costing over P300,000.
About 20 minutes before Aromin and Estal’s encounter with the motorbikes, at 11:32 p.m., another motorist coming down from Baguio, Yvonne Pimentel, took a video of a group of oncoming motorbikers. She posted her video on her Facebook account at 12:04 a.m. of Jan. 14, along with the commentary: “Some group of bikers going up Baguio now via Kennon Road are definitely the worst I have met on the road…Your white bright lights blind whoever you meet! We almost got hit by three bikers who were out of their lanes!”
Several comments on her post identified the group as participants of the BOSS Ironman Challenge, and tagged the Facebook page of the “BOSS Ironman Challenge XII.”
In a private message to this author, Pimentel said that the “guide cars” of the riders had bright mounted beam lights. “We even stopped somewhere in Saitan, Rosario, La Union, where the police guided us where to go,” she added.
Facebook posts from motoring journalists suggest that road mishaps have occurred during past editions of the BOSS Ironman Challenge, which is now on its 12th year. Some of these mishaps resulted in fatalities.
Motoring journalist Vernon B. Sarne posted on his Facebook wall: “Time to pack up the BOSS Ironman Challenge. Too many lives have been lost in an event its organizers keep insisting ‘is not a race.’ Also calling on carmakers to stop supporting this dangerous exercise. When you have participants aiming to cover a distance within a specified time, that’s a race—however which way you spin it. And someone has to finally answer for the casualties.”
Another motoring journalist, Anjo Perez, commented: “I was tracking the entire race through the BOSS-Ironman tracker. The winner of the race/event averaged 115 kph. Take note, that was his average speed. Just imagine how fast he was going on straights (approximately 200kph). Other finishers averaged 100kph.”
Inquirer Motoring tried getting in touch with the event organizers via their official Facebook pages Ironman Motorcycle Challenge by BOSS, and the BOSS Ironman Challenge XII, but only got “seen” notifications from the motorcycle FB page. As of this writing, some colleagues who told the organizers that this writer would interview them have not replied.