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ToughASIA

Just when you think you're tough enough

Tough Takes Triathlon

Liew family races together at 113 Bukit Merah Triathlon

Fr L-R: Angie, Wilson, Edward and Elizabeth of the Liew family raced as a family for the first time at 113 Bukit Merah Triathlon.
Fr L-R: Angie, Wilson, Edward and Elizabeth of the Liew family raced as a family for the first time at 113 Bukit Merah Triathlon.

“What is the run course? What is the swim course? What is the bike course?” Edward asked panicking.

“It will be alright,” said mum calmly as we travelled as a family, to the Bukit Merah 113 triathlon race in Perak, Malaysia. For the first time, we raced as a family. Dad, Wilson raced in the 113 distance on Sunday, while my brother Edward and I, Angie were racing in the Mini distance.

As we arrived at Bukit Merah a day before the race, my brother and I headed into the lake for a practice swim. Following that swim, we got onto our bikes and (led by our father, and followed by my mother in the car), cycled slowly through the routes in order to limit wrong turns during race day. To my surprise, the bike path was fairly flat, with only a few minor hills, but had a sharp U-turn point, which I was a little uncertain about.

As we were cycling back to our hotel block, we met two other teammates from our triathlon club, M3X. I felt proud to know that we were here to represent the whole team.

Siblings Angie and Edward attempted their first open water swim in the Bukit Merah Lake.
Siblings Angie and Edward attempted the open water swim in the Bukit Merah Lake.

Race day nerves

We rose before dawn, and I was almost shaking with excitement as I double-checked my bags and equipment before heading out of the door with my bike. We strolled together towards the transition area, which just opposite my hotel block. I carefully arranged my helmet, sunglasses, racebelt, shoes and my water bottle in my basket. All checked!

Following that, my father, my brother and I practiced running from the swim out carpet to my bike, so that finding my bike would be almost instinctive during the actual race.

As I was walking to the lake, I immediately saw that there was something wrong: there were two buoys missing!

The buoys were supposed to be arranged in a triangular form, with three buoys on each side, going outwards. There was a lot of confusion, but the organiser, Andy calmed everyone down before explaining that the missing buoys were actually leaking, therefore they could not be used.

From the jetty, the thin line in the lake, which bobbed up and down on the surface of the water, seemed rather noticeable, and I imagined that it would be easy to just swim alongside it. This was where I was so, very wrong.

Swim start on the Bukit Merah Lake with M3X teammates.
Swim start on the Bukit Merah Lake with M3X teammates.

Chaotic swim start

I dreamed of being one of the fastest swimmers, leading the pack throughout the race, blasting with energy. Onto the starting ramp, I only had enough time to put on my goggles and wish my teammates good luck before the sound of the air horn was blasted though the air.

In a state of confusion, I was swimming behind a tall boy for a distance, but soon realised the both of us had overshot the turn due to the missing buoy.

I desperately tried to catch up, but knowing we had lost so much time just swimming back to the correct path, I pushed on and managed to catch up with the leading pack, and was third out of the water.

Swimming in the Bukit Merah Lake at sunrise.
Swimming in the Bukit Merah Lake at sunrise.

“My world began to whirl and I felt like the murky water hit my face and the rest of my body. Since the buoy wasn’t there I swam extra and had to turn back but I still caught up and climbed swiftly climbed the wooden ramp,” said younger brother Edward.

“Into transition, I threw on my helmet, pushed up my race belt, tucked in my shoe and quickly mounted my bike with the flying mount technique to speed across the road. Soon enough, I quickly cycled pass someone who overtook me in transition and was on to first place. When I had caught up with my sister, I held onto the first place for boys, sometimes trading places with my sister on the bike leg,” continued Edward.

Edward Liew steers onto the bike course of the 113 Bukit Merah Triathlon.
Edward Liew steers onto the bike course of the 113 Bukit Merah Triathlon.

At one point (after the U-Turn), I somehow, embarrassingly missed a narrow, and rather hidden right turn due to the lack of marshal/signage, and continued into the wrong direction.

It turned out that my brother had led another boy behind us onto the correct way, and by the time I had realized my mistake, the two behind me were suddenly ahead. At first, it was hard to take in the fact that I had overshot once again but I kept my calm and sprinted on my bike as fast as I could, back on track. Soon enough, I found my brother once again. I quickly sped to the front, and led again, following my brother’s pace so that we could stay together.

Back into the transition area again, we all quickly hung up our bikes and dashed out for the run. The run was a little slow, as my brother had a cramp. However, I wanted to finish with him, therefore I waited for him all the way until the very end.

Angie Liew onto the bike course of the 113 Bukit Merah Triathlon.
Angie Liew onto the bike course of the 113 Bukit Merah Triathlon.

“I got a little dazed as I couldn’t find my bike in the transition area. But soon enough, I dashed out on the run to catch up to my sister. The other boy seemed to slow down and walked on the running course, giving my sister and I had a good lead,” said Edward.

“My sister and I continued running until we reach the resort then we held hands and strode at the last 100 meters and we crossed the finish line together winning our respective categories,” said Edward jubilantly.

Indeed, I felt rather unsatisfied with my timing and I know that I have a lot of room to improve. However, I am still very pleased with winning the race and overall, my favourite part of the race was during the run, in which my brother and I crossed the finish line together, hand in hand.

Angie and Edward Liew crosses the finish line together, winning their respective categories at the 113 Bukit Merah Triathlon.
Angie and Edward Liew crosses the finish line together, winning their respective categories at the 113 Bukit Merah Triathlon.

The following day, my family awoke early to accompany my father to the starting line for his 113 distance race. We waited for him throughout the long hours of the race and at one point during the run, he told us that he had taken gels, but could not feel any energy in him.

My mother, my brother and I acted in a flash and dashed to get him a bottle of hydrogen infused water, which is supposed to give energy, before rushing back as it started to rain heavily.

“It was an enjoyable experience to have my family with me when I race. I’m pleased for this 113 Bukit Merah triathlon, my son Edward decided to join the race with Angie and I,” said Wilson.

Angie and Edward turned supporters with mum Elizabeth in tow as dad Wilson raced in the 113 distance.
Angie and Edward turned supporters with mum Elizabeth in tow as dad Wilson raced in the 113 distance.

“I had a pretty good experience as my swimming and cycling improved. Among the three disciplines, running is my strength but it turned out to be my fall. It was really hot at noon, and it didn’t help with certain water stations out of drinking water, and I couldn’t cool down my body.”

“I walked for quite a bit during the first loop but managed to push myself to run on the second loop and thanks to a fellow triathlete for being my target to keep moving where I finally managed to overtake him at KM18.5. Every step was a step closer to see my family and I know the kids were waiting patiently to cross the finishing line together,” continued Wilson.

Dad Wilson's turn to race the 113 Bukit Merah Triathlon.
Dad Wilson’s turn to race the 113 Bukit Merah Triathlon.
Beating the heat on the 113 Bukit Merah Triathlon course.
Beating the heat on the 113 Bukit Merah Triathlon course.

“Last but not least, I have the family’s Tri Support Mum, Elizabeth to thank for her dedicated support throughout the whole race. I’m proud of my children for their good performance the day before and bravo to my son who completed his longest distance triathlon. Overall, it was a great weekend for a family triathlon,” said a beaming proud dad, Wilson.

Crossing the finish line as a family brings a triumphant feeling.
Crossing the finish line as a family brings a triumphant feeling.

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AngieNexus1

More about the budding triathlete

Angie Liew, 13 is a petite girl who just loves the feeling of wind blowing through her hair. Introduced to sports and triathlon by her father, she’s loving it and just won’t stop!

She started with Kids of Steel Triathlon and transitioned to train under Team M3X of TRI-AMAteur Triathlon Club, currently a Year 9 student of Tenby International School.

EdwardNexusTri

More about the budding triathlete

Edward Liew – 10 years old, loved playing Minecraft more than sports but was then inspired to take up running by his dad, and swimming by his sister. Determined to be a triathlete just like his dad, Edward now loves running and biking the most.

He started triathlon with Kids of Steel Triathlon and transitioned to train under Team M3X of TRI-AMAteur Triathlon Club, currently a Year 6 student of Tenby International School.

113-bukit-merah-liew-family

More about the triathlete

Wilson Liew – Father to Angie and Edward, he is a kampong boy who used to love running across padi fields and swimming across rivers. He started triathlon a few years ago and wishes to one day earn the title of being an Ironman.