If triathlons were space missions, then Langkawi was my Apollo 13.
Other than two jellyfish stings, the swim was long, uneventful and went according to plan. It is a beautifully marked course, which made it quite easy not to get lost. No hassles in T1. I got onto the bike ready to go chase my Kona slot.
The only benefit of being a weak swimmer is that you are always passing people on the bike, a huge mental benefit. That quickly turned into a draft fest though. At some stage I counted 14 people that passed me peloton style, every one of them an idiot that I passed earlier . It was also the first time I ever saw age groupers get carded for drafting. That made me feel much better about my individual effort. But I was stuck with this group, yo-yoing between leading the pack and falling back to avoid a penalty. At around 70km I took the decision to stop at an aid station and do a proper hydration refill, putting some distance between us. As it turned out I caught up with them at 100km. Fortunately the 2nd lap’s climbing was about to start. Relative to the field I am a strong climber, so I passed the group and managed to drop them in the 10km Redbull-Zone leading to the golf-course, without much additional power output. I saw Coach on this stretch (although she was heading back out again), realized that I was catching her , and I must admit that I was looking forward to finally passing her on the bike in a race. But oh what a cruel sport this is.
Laguna Triathlon (Phuket) – 1.8km Swim, 55 km bike, 12km run
If beach sand, clear ocean water, beautiful tropical scenery and friendly locals is your thing then this is the race for you.
The swim is unique (at least in my experience) in that you swim in salt and fresh water. The race kicks off with an out and back 1.2km swim in the clearest water I have ever raced in. Not that there is much to see down there, but it does help with swimming straight(ish). On exiting the swim you run over the beach and dive into the lagoon where the last 600m awaits you in the murkiest, darkest, triathlete infested water you have ever seen. The race director did assure us the water was tested and declared safe for recreational use… whatever that means.
The one-lap bike course is nothing short of spectacular, although race day is no time to be sightseeing. Two days earlier we were taken on a police-escorted ride of the bike course (like pro’s ), something I would highly recommend. The course is quite technical. There are maybe 4km worth of hills, but at gradients of up to 22% their presence are felt early on in the race. The downhills are equally steep, which combined with a couple of switchbacks leaves a lingering scent of burnt out brakes in the air. There is also no road closure; traffic is a real concern on the blind corners… of which there were plenty. But it is stunningly beautiful, and there are more than enough straight flat sections to keep the TT bikes happy. It was with a sense of sadness that I racked my bike in T2 and headed out on the run.
The two-lap run is mostly flat, hot and humid. Towards the turnaround you are taken onto a detour heading out and back on the golf-course… very Sun City-esque, just a lot greener. You are never bored, constantly keeping your body in the red zone. And why not… 12kms is just around the corner… not. Somehow they keep the coke and sponges ice cold… a great effort from the local and international volunteers. Definitely a race I will do again.
Buffelspoort, the heart of the borewors curtain. The TTA Champs kicked off with an amazing goodie bag containing a sachet of burger mayonnaise, a small packet of instant coffee and a pamphlet. I knew it was going to be a fun race.
Up went the blowup arch, along with gusty winds and the race was on.
The crushing 😂 field of about 100 athletes all hit the water. I kept my eye out for barbel and fishermans pap lines. As I slipped out of my wetsuit in T1, I also tossed off some water weed from my hair to glam up for the bike.
Hills, glorious hills strummed in my head as the two lap bike course required some thigh power. The run start was no different and for once I was grateful for that little hill out of Valverde on the Saturday brick runs.
The finish line arrived and with the double thumbs up salute I thought "mooi man" ( Afrikaans accent required). And that was that.
Where Trifactri athletes get to tell their side of the Swim, Bike and Run