Laguna Phuket Triathlon: Thailand
Dubbed the #raceoflegends
An iconic event that over the years has been won by many of the sports most accomplished athletes, plus is the oldest tri race in Asia! Traditionally it featured a baby elephant that ran down the finishing shoot with you, and being the last race on the calendar enticed a rampant after party. Unfortunately animal rights meant we now have an elephant costume and with both Middle Eastern and Asia Pacific continental championship races the following weekend the after party will have to wait! But the events legacy, the intimacy of the course and it’s holiday spot location makes this one a must do.
As last years winner I was treated to a 5night stay for 2 at the Banyan Tree Phuket: one of seven 5 start resorts in the Laguna complex. This all of them fringe an 18 hole golf course, perfectly manicured gardens, lagoons with boat shuttles, a white sand beach and all the novelties Asian 5 star resort come with; such as tshirts hung up in our wardrobe with our initials printed onto it!
Laguna is part of a small expat area on the top half of the island of Phuket, Thailand. To generalise the south of the island is hilly, touristy and serious party town. The north is quiet, local and connected to the main land by bridge for riding. Race transition is actually only a couple km from our usual apartment, about as homely of a race you can get.
We eat Thai street food on a daily basis. So it was more a special treat to find Mediterranean cuisine for my pre race dinner ritual: Falafel islander, although despite rice being the no1 food of the country, it came with fries instead!
A unique course that does 1300m in the ocean, you then run up and over the beach and then flop into the 32degree lagoon for the 500m stretch across to transition. 1st out of the water with Robyn on my feet.
A tough but exciting 50km loop which typically has speed bumps, a few potholes, buffalo, dogs, goats and smooky chicken bbqs, was perfectly manicured for race day. Knowing almost every corner and possible obstacle on course would’ve been an advantage on this one, as the first half was flat but weaved in and out of local villages. Phuket hills have the reputation of not halfarsing the job, the second half of the ride included a few of these climbs, (one at 18% and one 22%). First off the bike with a 4min lead.
Minor hiccup on the bike (threw my sugar drink bottle with gels and electrolyte away at the aid station instead of my water bottle! Fortunately I’d drunk half and it was a short race, so nutrition plays less of role). But walked the first aid station to dose up on coke and electrolyte. I’ve been doing more speed work lately than ever before, felt comfortable in the heat, and actually sped up in the second half, always a good sign.
Held on to take Gold. Rumour has it the elephant has a minor dose of heat stroke so battled with the dance down the finish line.
Squeezed in a brief nap (makes all the difference in not getting sick) before awards dinner held on the beach with the iconic elephant trophies. Pressures on to come back next year to make it 3 in a row!
Active recovery week and a bit of flying time as I head to 70.3 Asia Pacific Champs in Western Sydney this weekend.