With a busy Triathlon month in May, I had to choose my races carefully for I was racing at Ironman 70.3 Vietnam race in Danang, Vietnam and 113 Malaysia-Desaru two weekends in a row.
For the past two years, I have done the title race in Desaru, Johor which encompasses a 2km swim, 90km bike and a 21km run. This year however, I had signed up for the Sprint race which was a 750m swim, 20km bike and a 5km run as I was certain my legs won’t hold up for two long races over two weekends.
Additionally, my son Aravind signed up for the Mini triathlon for the second time in two years, in the 10-15 age group although he’s only turning 10 later in the year.
“I was racing with a 12kg foldable bicycle (foldie) that my father bought for my birthday last year. Also, I received a timing chip which the race organiser would fine me USD$100 if I lost it. That shocked me and made me afraid of losing it in the sea.” said Aravind.
Come race morning, after helping Aravind to set up his bike at the transition area, we watched the 113km distance category flag off in 3 waves. This race had attracted almost 300 athletes from around Malaysia, Singapore as well as a decent representation from the Philippines.
The sun was shining brightly and hot as the my Sprint category was released but thankfully the water was cool and comfortable.
The visibility was very good and you could see the bottom of the sea throughout the swim and the yellow buoys in the water were visible making it easy for sighting. Swim course was marked out correctly and the distance was spot on for the sprint race.
Getting onto the bike course which by now had riders from both the long race and the sprint race, the water stations were manned by helpful volunteers handing out cups of water. Typically, giving out water in bottles would be a much better option. The U-turn for the sprint race was marked out clearly and showed up exactly at the 10km mark from transition. I duly made my u-turn and returned back to transition.
At this point, I felt the strong headwind and my tired legs from the previous weeks race decided to show up. I failed to get the guy drafting behind me to take a turn in the front so I rode the entire 20km with my nose to the wind.
Returning to transition, I counted approximately 15 bikes had been racked. By this time, my legs were protesting and I knew I would not have the same pace on the run that I was used to. Nevertheless, I kept running and managed to overtake a few runners.
Towards the final km, I was overtaken by a really fast runner who was the eventual third place finisher in my age group while I was glad to finish fourth.
I later learnt from the long course athletes that the water stations were well stocked with ice water bottles and bananas. This is a marked contrast to the previous years where water stations had begun running out of water towards the end of the run. By midday, the cloudy skies rolled in to cool things down and soon after, the rain came giving everyone a great reprieve from the heat.
Meanwhile, Aravind had started his race in the Mini triathlon with a 300m swim, 10km of cycling and a 2km run.
I ran down the slope at the beach, jumped into the water and started swimming as fast as I could as the swim was only 300m.
In my excitement, I accidentally overshot when I should have turned left at the first buoy and thankfully someone in a kayak stopped me and pointed me to turn.
The rest of the swim was good and when I exited the water, I ran to the transition and put on my helmet, shoes and took my bicycle off the rack. I had to push the bike past the mount line before I could start cycling.
The bike course was 10km long and although I was not tired in the beginning, after the first big slope, my legs became tired. I still cycled as hard as I could and was very happy when I came close to the Lotus Desaru resort which meant my cycling was about to end.
Arriving into transition, I executed my flying dismount which I have practiced many times and it’s easy to do with my foldie. I racked my bike, took off my helmet and ran out, nearly forgetting to wear my race bib which my father pointed out!
I ran behind the hotel restaurant, through the hotel car park and up the slope before the left turn towards the u-turn and received a red band to wear on my wrist. I was feeling good and not tired, running up and down a couple more slopes before reaching the finish line in 14th place overall.
I took photos with my dad before jumping into the ice bath, filled with water and ice which was really refreshing as it was quite sunny and hot at that point. I enjoyed racing at Desaru and hopefully I would be able to come back again next year.
In the evening the organisers, Eventure Global held a party for prize-giving and there was plenty of food and beer. I would like to commend Race Director, Andy Foo for listening to last year race feedback and making great improvements in the 2017 edition. In the three years of participating at the 113 Desaru triathlon, this year was easily the best edition. I would recommend to anyone doing triathlons to consider doing this race next year.
More about the triathlete
Vignesh has been a newbie in Triathlon for the past 3 years. He wonders if levelling up in Age Group can be counted as improvement in the sport.
More about the junior triathlete
Aravind is a Year 4 student in KL who loves playing Futsal and Badminton, telling jokes, playing chess and doing magic tricks. His interest in Triathlon comes from his fathers encouragement, has completed 4 other races prior to Desaru 2017 and hopes to get his first Tri-suit soon.