Ultra Aquathlon Malaysia – January 24, 2016
So the event date approached. On the day before the event I went to Putrajaya to the race pack collection and race briefing. It all went rather smooth, only the briefing dragged unnecessarily long. No need to further promote the event itself, as all people in the room already signed up. Better to keep the messages to the point to have all people focused.
Anyway, from the briefing it seemed the organiser did a good job in ensuring safety, especially for the swimming part with boats, jet skis, numerous kayaks and divers on standby. Having signed up for the Ultra distance (2.25km swim, 21km run) I had to make 3 loops around the 750m course mapped out on the lake.
Running shouldn’t pose too much of an issue, as the route led around the Putrajaya island with no road crossings. The entire route led along the lake’s walkway, promising flat terrain. The organiser promised water stations after every 2km, which sound great, considering the expected hot weather during the run.
After the briefing we went to the event site at the foot of the Millenium Monument (Monumen Alaf Baru) only 1km away. It all looked OK, the swimming course was already setup, marked by 6 large yellow buoys. First time I also saw the water (color) of the Putrajaya lake. Well it is not crystal clear, actually far from it but what I considered as very positive, there were no algae.
After having an early dinner with Jarand back in KL it was time to prepare my stuff for the competition. Quite an headache as it turned out to be. So many things to consider in contrast to a pure running event. There would be a transition area, where every athlete gets an allocated space with basket to put everything she needs to change from swimming into running attire. So shoes, running shirt/bib, drinks, gel, etc. had to be placed there. Important to make sure everything is there to ensure a quick transition and start the running leg as fast as possible.
Very happy I could sleep early, as such I had around 5 hours of sleep in my bones when waking up at 3am. Slowly booting my body, have a slice of bread with coffee, changing into the swimming attire and put on the tattoo on the left upper arm …
Early start this morning, also giving Soh Wai Ching and Jarand a ride, picking them up from their various places. The ride to Putrajaya was smooth and I was happy to feel the pre-race excitement in me. A feeling I haven’t felt for a long time. With that tiredness had no chance to creep in. I was in a good form for this race.
We arrived 10 minutes before onsite registration started, which had the advantage to park right next to the start/finish area. No queue in front of the toilet, just as I love it <3 Time flew fast till the start at 7:30am, when setting up my place in the transition area, registering my presence, hydrating, posing for photos (thank you Rany Tan) and just let the pre-race atmosphere sink in a bit. I love such events for that precious moments.
A bit late but still acceptable we were allowed into the water, from where the start was supposed to happen. While the last male participants for the Ultra category were still entering the water, we were flagged off. Female participants in this category were flagged of 3 minutes later.
The water was very warm, I didn’t mind at that moment but that should change only moments later. I started to swim slightly higer than my training stroke per minute frequency. I did up to 64spm during my training in the cold pool, now I upped a bit to 66spm, which I hoped should comfortably bring me over the 2.2.5 km in less or around 40 minutes, which also should bring me on shore together with the leading group. I started my bilateral freestyle but immediately ran into breathing difficulties. I panicked, felt a bit like drowning I guess. I stopped, started again but couldn’t sustain. Swimmers passed me. I got frustrated only 30 seconds after the start, haha, what’s happening? On top of that my watch complained about loss of GPS signal ..!..
Then the potential turning point in the race happened, the water station at km 6 was not setup yet. It was now the part of the run with less shade and more sun/heat. I was really angry about this, with the committed water stations every 2km I was confident to push and have milestones every 2 km providing the refreshment that I personally really need. After all, my German built engine was not specifically designed for this climate plus my weight contributed to an overheating engine when going fast.
The finishing area was very small and by that time crowded. There was a queue of people, turned out they queued up either for the results slip that was printed out right there (unfortunate placing for that purpose) or the finisher shirts for the Standard category. I got my medal, somebody pulled my leg to retrieve the timing chip but not water. People that know me, know how agitated I get if there is no water given at the finishing line. I shouted, I asked for water. As at some many other times the organiser fails to provide the most obvious at the finishing line, water, other runners jump in, somebody gave me water from his hydration bottle, soon after Jarand came with a bottle of water that grabbed from somewhere – thank you all for helping me.
The finish area was really badly managed. There was no clear flow to move along to quickly collect medal, shirt, get hydrated. Why putting the timing slip printing right after the finishing line? Later people queued up in a long line, incoming runners looked very lost. The queue eventually blocked the 100Plus booth, the only place to hydrate. Guess quite a few people missed that.
Anyway, great to meet many friendly faces at the finishing area. Also got myself a quick hamstring massage offered by the people from APPLE Physiotherapy Centre. The massage was strong and really reached deep muscle tissue – appreciate that.
Eventually I also got hold of my timing slip. A lot of numbers that are not too clear. It states I am 7th out of 14 in my category, whereas I was running in the Open Men category with around 80 participants. I knew I finished before the 3rd finisher of the Veteran category (starting 46 years of age) and obviously one lady was faster than me. Stiff competition, so I am OK with the result I guess, I finished right after Jarand (6) and Rupert Chen (5). Both top triathletes with Jarand being worldwide 25th in the age group ranking 😀
Overall decent event with unnecessary shortcomings of missing water stations. Don’t you guys have a simple check list confirming with the water station leader or team that delivers the table/water to the respective location that all is OK? It is a simple course of a 10km loop, shame it happened. Another feedback from my side would be the signage and number of marshalls between km 5 and 10. More signage needed with all the turnings and corners, as well as there were hardly marshalls on that stretch.
As for me I got to see how to continue with my swimming. I am at a good level and continuous training would bring me to new heights. Unfortunately there are not many such events available. I would like to see another organiser or even the same to have this event happening 2 or 3 times a year at the same location, meaning in Putrajaya. Other locations are less attractive as that would mean involve longer travel and even overnight stays, which I can’t afford timewise.
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