Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Mukah International Triathlon

As soon as I realised that I was the "I" in Mukah "International" Triathlon I started suggesting that I needed some appearance money. Strangely enough my demands fell on deaf ears and everyone thought I was joking...HELLO!!!...haha

This was a small race and in its 7th year. I thought it was a new race and I went just to show some support. As it turned out they'd been trying to promote it to just the locals and were now going further afield and thus advertised it through the Malaysian triathlon community with the aid of Facebook.

I knew Richard would be there having arrived back from Ironman South Africa on Wednesday. He'd had a crash in the race though so went for a run at three o'clock in the morning before going to the airport just to be sure his ankle would be OK.

I also met Shahrom at the airport, Malaysia's only profession Triathlete/Duathlete. A lovely guy but not someone you want to race against without a very healthy lead coming out of T2 if you want to win.

The army boys were also rumoured to be attending in force.

The Mukah festival was going on too, it was really cool to see all the excitement, goings on and stalls not to mention the amazing kites on the beach. A real cultural event. Sarawak and East Malaysia as a whole is so rich in culture and natural beauty and is somewhere I haven't spent enough time exploring.

However, onto the race...

It was announced that the triathlon would become a duathlon due to a serious jellyfish infestation. Two guys had ended up in hospital on drips having been badly stung the day before while training for the race. Oh well ay! very disappointing first.

My aspirations of a win were gone as Shahrom was going to swat me like fly in a duathlon format and I suspected a whole battalion of the army guys could run/bike/run a bit too.

I warmed up fearing for my poor under trained running legs. Lungs didn't feel right either but hey-ho, we lined up, the gun went and we were off for the first 1500m run.

I was horrified at how quickly everyone took off. It was a small field but I was somewhere around 30th after 500m and actually behind the old boys and quite a few girls. Slowly I started reeling people in. Shahrom was second and closing in on the fastest army guy. Richard was about 100m ahead at halfway but I was starting to close on him.

I came into T1 about 30m behind Richard and about 15th overall but had the fastest transition ever and moved into about 10th place including leapfrogging Richard. I did make lots of jibes afterwards about him putting on his high heels and make-up...sorry Richard, I couldn't resist, I do realise you were just taking a nap haha

I set off on the 30k bike and dropped a few people straightaway (This was Black Beauty's first race after coming out of retirement BTW). The first 3k were technical and bumpy, Black Beauty with her USE-Tula aerobars doesn't like that so I lost even more ground to Shahrom and the leading pack.

On to the highway though and I had one of the army guys with me and we set about reeling them in. I guess I was doing the lion's share of the work but my brother in arms was doing enough to give me time to recover before I did the next big pull. Some guys got spat off the back of the front group, they helped us for about a minute then got spat out the back too. After about 10k I was on Shahrom's wheel, we smiled at each other and then the fun and games were on.

The front pack was two army guys, Shahrom and me. I'd left the rest of my age-group long since behind but I wanted an overall podium position and to stay ahead of Richard so I sat back and laughed. Shahrom kept saying "just a little bit" and egging me on to the front...I just laughed some more. Fortunately he saw the funny side and understood that it was his race with the army guys. I was here for a holiday.

After the turnaround and a few more K of me laughing at the back I thought it was probably time that I did something and started taking on my turn to pull the group back over the last 10k and into a headwind I may add. I'd been resting so it didn't cost me too much and hopefully I hadn't pissed off the army guys too much by that point.

Into T2 an out in a flash I was leading the 15 seconds of fame...Shahrom and his brother in arms came sprinting past me for the final 7k run. My Achilles was hurting like hell now and I knew I was going to pay over the next few days.

I was expecting my army buddy that I'd started the bike with to cruise past me too but it seems that even with my lack of running and dodgy legs my pace was still respectable. Shahrom took 4minutes out of me, his army buddy was about 100m ahead of me at the finish and the rest were nowhere to be seen. Richard was shocked to find he was 5 minutes behind me...I had to put that in after he gave me a running clinic in Powerman last year haha.

So 1st in my age-group (we shan't say much about how many were in the over 45s - just 4 actually but how silly was that? It should have been over 40s but hey ho I'm pleased to say I would still have been first).

I was 3rd overall, very pleased with that all things considered and interviewed by the local TV station. Another 15 seconds of fame. I was even in the local Chinese newspaper the next morning...STARDOM haha.

All in all it was great fun to do such a local "Kampung" race. Super friendly, wonderful people and yes I'll try to make it again next year, this kind of race is the grass roots of Triathlon where you make do with what happens, don't complain about the road surface, marshalling and race for the spirit of racing. Albert did a great job as always as race director, he was as friendly, hospitable, warm and welcoming as ever. Thanks Albert.

Transport was laid on without charge too and from the airport, entry was just RM40 (USD13) and I won RM800 (USD235) for my troubles. (As always Shilpa, the boys and the maids shared that so they were all happy too).

I can't speak highly enough of the trip, it was great fun and that's all that mattered - I liked the way Albert explained the marshalling, he said "The police have promised to do their best but can't promise anything, they will just do their best". Anywhere else I would have said "WTF" but here it was from the heart and as it turned out they did a magnificent job.

Very cool weekend!

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