Hello again from Phuket! In two days I fly back to Manila and then drive off for this weekend’s Bataan International Triathlon, but yesterday it was nice to revisit my first international race experience at the Laguna Phuket Triathlon. (Read my race report from two years ago.)
Because I’ve only just managed to get healthy again, when I was finalizing my trip plans I decided not to sign up for the whole triathlon. Instead, I joined the 6K fun run option, which was nice because I got to partake in the whole race day experience without totally killing myself. Also, I had a score to settle with that run course because last time, I had been unable to run it the way I wanted to.
On to the race experience!
Our gun start was loosely pegged at 7am, but in reality we would start after most of the triathletes had completed their swim and gone out on their bikes. This allowed us to catch a glimpse of the pros and fast age groupers come out of the water and cheer them on. The fastest of us would complete the 6K just before the first cyclists could come back in to start their run leg. It’s the perfect race for supporters to do because you get a nice workout in while you watch the triathlon unfold.
I lined up behind Belinda and Justin Granger, who were doing their first run race since their retirement from professional triathlon. My friend Glenn who’s in the front row of the photo above asked me why I was hiding. “I’ve seen you run,” he said, referring to a run session we did in 2013 at MaccaX camp in which I stayed with the frontrunners.
The gun went off and away flew Justin, Belinda, and Glenn up in front — but I was surprised I was actually 4th woman and holding my own! It was a hot morning especially with the lateness of the gun start, but I managed to deal with it thanks to the ice-cold water and sponges liberally offered at the aid stations.
And then of course I started feeling like my uterus was going to fall out… Sorry for the overshare, but this really happens to women who engage in sports. When it’s that time of the month or very close to it, our bodies can play tricks on us and rebel, and moving around can be uncomfortable. I tried to soldier on, but allowed my mind to be overwhelmed by the discomfort. I slowed down just for a bit. That’s when two other women overtook me, and I never made the deficit back. I still managed to cross the line as 6th woman overall (out of 143 female participants) and just 3 minutes behind Belinda, who came in second behind a Danish gazelle. Check out the results here.
I caught up with Belinda after the race and she said, “You looked good out there!” Coming from a pro, that compliment took me aback and made me think. After running like crap at races for the past few months, I surprised myself with that performance running sub-5 minute kilometers. Looks like my body really likes running, and I should do more of it — which plays into my plans for next year perfectly. ;)
After the race, I managed to watch Laguna Phuket Triathlon race leader Michael Raelert as he wheeled into transition to start the run leg. He had led out of the water and was in complete control the whole day, going on to win the race in emphatic fashion. As the world’s fastest man across the 70.3 distance I didn’t expect any different.
Just like the first time I was here in Phuket, there is a MaccaX camp ongoing and I got to hang out with some teammates at the awards party. One of our members Tim Ford (who I attended Supercamp with last year) had won his age group and took home a coveted elephant trophy.
I had planned this trip for months because I am a sentimental creature. This is the third and final year of the Challenge Laguna Phuket Tri-Fest, the two-weekend extravaganza made of the legendary Laguna Phuket Triathlon and the Challenge Laguna Phuket Half. By next year, the half-distance race will return to being produced under the Ironman brand. In two years’ time it will become Ironman distance, with the Laguna Phuket Triathlon held about five weeks earlier than its usual date. So this event I have fond memories of will cease to exist in this form.
When it comes to destination races, Laguna Phuket Triathlon certainly has it all for both racers and supporters. It’s a race that has its own unique flavor and does wonders for tourism in this part of Thailand. Some people have been coming here yearly for over 20 years! I do think that we’re making a good start with our own local races like the upcoming Bataan International Triathlon, and I would love for our own races to grow as the Laguna Phuket Triathlon has.