I thought I’ve already kissed my short triathlon ‘career’ good bye, as my last race was back in 2014. I didn’t participate any races in 2015, as I was preparing for my once in a lifetime event – my Wedding.
Nevertheless, I chanced upon Penang Coastal Triathlon (Sprint event) when Tough Asia offered me a ‘comeback’ event to kick start my 2016 triathlon year, albeit a little heavier.
This event is similar to the Penang Urban Triathlon with the exception of a coastal run along Penang’s famed Gurney Drive towards the finish line at Penang Swimming Club in Tanjung Bungah. The swim started in a swimming pool in Chinese Recreation Club, which is ideal for a beginner triathletes before venturing out into open water swims (sea or lake).
Go for the race, stay for the Penang food
Besides, who would refuse an event in Penang? Like they say, go for the event, stay for the FOOD. Indeed, food was the only thing in my mind when I stepped into Penang.
Actually I need this as a warm up event for my Putrajaya Ironman70.3 and Penang International Triathlon in the coming weeks.
I arrived a day earlier in Penang for to collect the racing kit and to check out the race venue, cycle and running routes as well. I do not consider myself a pro yet but I was surprisingly calm and not a bit excited.
Tried to pack as simple as possible, and to minimise the first transition, T1 and second transition, T2. I would just be completing the whole course in my swim trunks and a running shirt (T1). No cleat shoes for me and only running shoes for the bike and run.
I arrived early for the event for the bike setting, body marking and lining up. It was a beginner-friendly race, with about 200 participants in the tri and around 100 in the aquathon. There was also an aquathon for those who have not mastered cycling, just swim and run.
We were given a number base on our estimated swim time and one swimmer will begin every 10 seconds, swimming up and down 8 lanes for 800m. The water was really warm due to the heat wave in Malaysia and I completed my swim in around 20 minutes, faster than expected and proceeded to my bike.
After I had left the transition area, I realised I had forgot to put my water bottles into my bike’s bottle cage. Well, since it’s early morning and the swim only took me 20mins, I figured I could sustain without any water on the 24km bike route.
We went through 24km in two loops from the transition area right till Padang Kota where we U-turned at the clock tower and U-turn again for the 2nd loop at CRC. That was the cue to smile for the camera.
It was a pretty uneventful bike leg as I carefully navigated the traffic, but I saw some kids having some trouble with the traffic.
The problem with Penang is most roads are one way, and we sometimes have to cut across three lanes to make a turn. Fortunately, most Penang drivers are accustomed to seeing cyclists on the roads and a lot more forgiving.
Quickly, I cycled into transition at 45 minutes before proceeding with my run (and remembered to guzzle down lots of water). I was looking forward to run leg, as I’ve never ran along Gurney Drive, especially in the cool morning.
But once I left the area, folks of Penang had awoken and traffic began to pile up along the final straight stretch towards the Penang Swimming Club. Certain areas were without side pavement, and I had to run by the side of the road and it was intimidating on a certain stretch where cars were descending fast and at a bend into our direction.
Perhaps in the future, the organizers can arrange for some traffic marshalls to slow down incoming vehicles especially when there were some children participating in the run.
A special mention and thanks to my saviour Ooi Kok Keong for lending me a pedal as mine broke mine upon arrival in Penang due to a small mishap. Otherwise, it would have been quite a sight, and a different story altogether if I had cycled with only one right pedal.
All in all, I completed the race in around 2 hours and the site of the finishing line was picture perfect. The race was great and a perfect warm up event for my second attempt at Half Ironman distance in the Putrajaya 70.3. This race has definitely given me a jolt and rejuvenated 2016 as my Triathlon year.
For more photos, view Tough Asia’s Facebook album here.
More about the author
Richard Lee is on his life-changing journey from XXL to M. First dabbling into cycling, trail running and now triathlon, Richard sets out to inspire and improve himself and others along the way.