This is my Bangkok/Sydney friend, Ash:
And this is our Bangkok friend, Brad:
And this is Ash, Brad and me doing what we do most often:
Drinking. As expats. In Bangkok.
But sometimes we step outside the box. And race triathlons together.
Like the Phuket International Triathlon 2015 🙂
Phuket Triathlon : 1.8km swim, 55km ride, 12km run
It’s taken me a while to write a blog post about this triathlon, but I wanted to do so belatedly, as it was a truly gorgeous race. Checkout this video which shows the mood, the hills, and the beautiful scenery for which this tri is famous. I’m one of the hundreds of peeps in the yellow caps 🙂
** You can skip the first 1 minute… it’s just promotion by the race hotel **
The highlight of the course was the beautiful bike ride, which wound past Phuket’s famous beaches, through rainforest areas and along rural farmland. For additional fun, kids high-fived us from the side of the road, and cows crossed fearlessly in front of us, creating a series of unplanned obstacles throughout the course.
Bangkok to Phuket – checking out the course
Ash and I headed down from Bangkok on the Friday and checked out the course on Saturday morning. We were rather blasé about the whole thing –even making time to work on our tans at the race start line. It hadn’t yet sunk in that we would be racing for 4 hours in the Thai heat just 24 hours later 🙂
Next, we went to the administration area, found our names, and registered. Melanie Oliver from Australia. That’s me!
We checked our bikes into the transition area and headed out. Pre-race admin completed!
As usual, race day started way too early… at 4am. We setup in the transition area and joined the sea of competitors.
The mood before the race was epic. There were drones flying overhead, TV crews filming, and people warming up everywhere. This is my favourite moment of every race – so much adrenalin pumping through your veins!! You see familiar faces and new faces … like these guys…
We lined up at the start line and listened to the countdown in Thai … Sam, song, nung… Go!!!!
The swim was a 1.2km ocean swim, followed by a short run over a sand dune, and a 0.6km fresh water lagoon swim. I felt prepared for whatever the swim leg would throw at me, so I was feeling calm but excited.
Our coach, Vinnie, had trained us mentally, as much as physically – picking out specifics of the race that required mental games, and targeting them. Our pre-race training had thus included swimming with weights and bands around our feet. This was to prepare us for the shock we would get when transitioning from the salt water – where we would be buoyant – to the fresh water lagoon, where we would be less buoyant and would feel heavy and tired. It totally worked. What I wasn’t prepared for, however, was how creepy the dark lagoon water was… I kept waiting for a lake monster to come up and eat me!
Thankfully though, it was soon over, and I ran into the transition area to collect my bike.
I grabbed my bike, and rolled out of the first transition, excited for the ride! And what an incredible ride it was!!
We rode past beaches and ports:
Past livestock on farms:
And up and down hills:
Lots of hills.
In fact, the race is famous for its steep hills. Some are so dangerous that competitors have fallen off the road and down cliffs… I was thankful to the race martials who were yelling early warnings before the most dangerous corners.
The most special part about racing in Thailand, is being cheered on by the many locals who come out to watch the race – especially school kids. How cute are these street-side cheerleaders!
After a 2-hour cycle –55km completed – it was time to transition to the run.
As I dropped my bike and ran out of the transition area, I was reminded of why I love triathlons. People were lining the road yelling encouragement at those of us still running in the Thai heat (some pros had already finished!). It was particularly awesome to hear because by this point we had been racing for almost 3 hours, and were starting to tire… The encouragement was definitely welcome.
Just 12km left to run!
I rather enjoyed the run, as I had taken a new approach to racing this triathlon: don’t try to kill myself. For the first time in my short triathlon experience, I was racing merely to enjoy the wind on my face instead of trying to achieve a certain time or get on the podium.
I told myself I wasn’t racing slowly … I was just enjoying the race longer!
I therefore didn’t race as hard as I did in the Hua Hin or Pattaya triathlons … and certainly not as hard as this guy. Although I take my hat off to this guy. He looks like he’s pushing his pain barriers… Bravo young lad. Bravo.
Then again, maybe he’s not in pain. Maybe he just doesn’t like Gatorade.
After 4 hours of racing, I happily approached the finish line, hoping Ash and Brad would be there to cheer me on. They were! Such sweethearts!
Like all races, the best part about crossing the finish line, was debriefing with my training buddies and fellow Ironguides triathletes. We crowd around each other hearing about each other’s triumphs, mistakes, best moments and worst moments… it’s great to debrief with someone who’s just run the same slog you have!
Post-race we were pretty pooped…. And tempted to take a nap.
But instead we got back on our bikes and rode to the beach. Because nothing… nothing… gets in the way of the three of us… and a well earned, post-race beer. You can take the kid out of Bangkok … but ….