Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dubai International Triathlon (Half Ironman) 7 Nov 2014

A Bit of Background

The DIT is the first Half Ironman distance race in the Gulf Region (Saudi, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait). Its not an official "Ironman / Challenge" event, so I guess that's why its called the Dubai International Triathlon. Its not a grand event like the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon, in fact I think there was only one female Pro participant and a few male Pros.

Nevertheless the race location (Dubai, Atlantis Resort, The Palm Jumeirah etc) perked my interest and I decided to make the short trip from Doha, Qatar.

Through the convenience of the internet, we managed to obtain accommodation at the huge Hotel Marina Apartment which was located at the Dubai Marina Walk, one of the most beautiful city spots I have ever been to. 
Dubai Marina Walk
 I suppose its amazing how Dubai has become one of the top cities in the world. On the drive from the airport I could see buildings with the logos CNN, Microsoft, Google. Wipro, Oracle, so on. They have done well.

Bike Check In Day

Bike check in, EXPO (just a small one), registration, race briefing etc. was on Thursday. Not very grand, but OK. "WOLFI's" provided free bicycle services, which was very useful to iron out issues with our bicycles. The EXPO wasn't the large one I was hoping for, but never mind.

I intentionally missed the race briefing as nowadays, just normal standing around is problematic with my Osteo Arthritis.
Tip was able to spot double Ironman World Champion, Chris McCormack standing right beside me at the EXPO. Its the second time I have raced with Macca (the first time being Ironman China), both times I beat him as he DNF.
The friendly WOLFI bike mechanic

Part of the Doha Tri Team

Chris McCormack. Ironman World Champ 2007 & 2010. Wonderful chap. Thank You Macca


I arrived at about 6 a.m. to hear the transition lady scream "everybody out in 2 mins, I mean it". Phew, don't mess around with transition ladies, including our lovely and very competent Emily Kelly in Doha. A few participants were not allowed in and had to place their things near the swim exit.

The swim start was quite beautiful. The sun was rising and we could see the city sky scrappers. It was a wave start swim (6.30 a.m., 6.40 a.m., 6.50 a.m. and 7 a.m.), so no bashing each other. I was in the last wave, oops now everyone is going to see me right at the back.
There was a lot of sharp stones on the beach. But otherwise the swim was well laid out. We could actually see each marker buoy as we swam, so no complaints.
I took my time on the swim as it was going to be a long day. Panic hit me the moment I stood up at the end of the swim. My hip bone was making all kind of noises. My problematic bones did not like the hip position required for the swim.
I didn't even smile at my wife. I was worried whether I should carry on.
Swim warm up section

swim finish, already in pain


The bike route was probably the easiest 90 km I have raced. The roads were super smooth, only flyovers to climb, not that windy and not that hot. Someone good could do a quick time on this route. Only 3 hours 20 mins for me. I enjoyed it though, I didn't feel any pain on the bike.


The run was a different matter though. It had got very hot and I thought the aid stations were too far apart for me.

Osteo arthritis meant my joints were painful, bending down was difficult, each step was slow etc.

The first two km went well though. Our buddy Rupert Nell came to support on his bicycle. After a few km I started to get into trouble. I realised "I couldn't run anymore", I have to stop running totally after this. My body was only ok with cycling.

Anyway I plodded along. I'm used to suffering during the many slow Ironmans I have done. I checked my watch to make sure I was going to make the cut off. It was HOT and each step was painful. I suddenly got cramps in my thighs and hung to the beach wall. A little girl gave me a bottle of water, "keep it", she said. That probably saved me, I swallowed the three salt pills I was carrying.

The last km after the turnaround was sweet. I felt a second wind, the other participants were caught in the jam going home. Some were cheering me as there was hardly anyone behind me.

I finished in 7 hour 49 mins, almost in last placing. The 21km took me a whopping 3 hours 43 mins, I have problems there.
Thai style

I couldn't have done it without her


I received the most "likes" ever on Facebook for that effort. Thank you my Facebook friends for your love.



Friday, August 22, 2014

Port Dickson International Triathlon 2014 (25 years of doing Triathlons for me)

Port Dickson had its first Triathlon in 1989. That was the first Triathlon for me and many other Malaysians. I was immediately hooked.
The 1989 event was held at the P.D. Yacht Club not that far from the current location (P.D. Admiral Marina). The organisers were a loose bunch of wonderful P.D. residents that called themselves "Team Mermaid". They had CEOs, taxi drivers all sorts of people helping out. The two most active were Foo Kia Peng (Race Director) and Lee Chee Wee Hoe. Their thinking was, they wanted two P.D. residents (Lee Chee Wee Hoe and Perumal) to be Malaysia's first Hawaii Ironman participants.
So Team Mermaid approached the Pacesetters (the most popular running club in K.L.) and suggested that Triathlons could be something interesting for runners to try out. We went to the Yacht Club to see what it was all about. The pleasant beach setting and delicious Cantonese Kuay Teow got us all hooked. Most of us got our bicycles from Datuk Ng Joo Ngan (I still buy my bicycles from him) and we were ready to roll.
Many Pacesetters took part and did quite well. We had never had so much fun. Ooi Eam Giap was last out of the water but overtook more than a hundred Triathletes on the run (he was a sub-3 Marathon runner). Everyone was so happy exchanging silly stories after the race.
First to finish was a Spore expat (2hrs 11min), second was Razani (2hrs 13min with a 36min 10km run split). I was 10th overall actually (2 hrs 33 mins, getting my first ever tiny pewter trophy) as I knew how to swim unlike the other Pacesetters.
After five years of being a runner, I decided to switch to Triathlons and 25 years later (2014), I am still a Triathlete.
10 August 2014
2014 was the 25th consecutive year that P.D. has had a Triathlon. More than 2,000 participants took part (a record number). The race organiser had changed to the very able Mr Chan Chee Seng and his family. Ironman Chan Chee Seng has done a splendid job in making Triathlons available to the masses.
Factors that contributed to P.D.'s longevity included:
  1. A competent and hilarious organiser (CCS)
  2. Strong support of the State Government, Police, Medics and all Government agencies.
  3. Just 1.5 hours from the capital, Kuala Lumpur and not that far from S'pore
  4. The Avillon Hotel group providing free sumptuous buffet dinner etc.
  5. P.D. being quite a nice sea side holiday town.
All this meant, the entry fee was quite minimal and there was even prize money for the top few.
I'd thought the route for the 2014 event was the best yet. The swim went into the Marina. The bike combined smooth highways and undulating country roads. The run was something special, split into two parts. The first part was a 1.5 km run immediately after the swim along the beach (this was to break up the pack of swimmers). The remaining 8.5 km was after the bike, mostly along the beach or sandy surfaces. It included a small portion on beach rocks and a take your breath away run under mangrove roots, wow.
The first Triathlon in Malaysia was not the P.D. 1989 but in Penang in 1988. We in K.L. didn't really know what Triathlon was then and only Datuk Ng and CSS went (they were sponsored by Sports Toto). Razani was probably the first Malaysian finisher.
Penang then had Triathlons in 1989, 1990 and it ended in 1991. Either the 1989 or 1990 one became a Duathlon due to the choppy sea.
In 1991, disaster struck. There were hundreds, really hundreds of stingy jelly fish. The Park Royal Hotel grounds (Batu Ferringhi) was like a war zone with everyone moaning and in pain. More than half the participants dnf. Paul Shearer was hospitalised as he came out the swim with a jelly fish wrapped around his torso. Razani and my buddy Chew Cheng Liang all dnf. So with everyone not finishing I finished 2nd Malaysian (first was Wong Yew Kin) and 6th overall, my best ever performance hee hee. 14 years old Martin Hagger won. He was leading the swim and I could hear him scream as he was the first to encounter the jelly fish.
So Penang stopped having Triathlons for a long, long time.
Present in 1989 and again 25 years later in 2014:
With god's grace, the P.D. Tri coincided with my Eid vacation. Now suffering from Osteo Arthritis, I still wasn't sure of taking part until my surgeon informed me that he would give me an injection just after the event. So why not take the risk? Having my name on my Tri suit was also a god send as it meant my old friends were able to recognise me, I have probably doubled my weight since 1989 ha ha.
Ernest Balasingam
He is the original Malaysian triathlon legend, winning Duathlons, coming out in the press, before P.D. 1989. He was one of the main organiser for Penang 1991, took the trouble to form a proper Triathlon Association for Perak. Heck the National Association had to get his blessings as he was the first to form a bona fide Triathlon Association.
Dr Tan Tah Ming (on the left)
 From P.D., he has done, you name it, he has done it. Marathon Des Sables, gruelling desert runs in Chile, Mongolia, Hawaii Ironman, Langkawi Ironman. My training buddy on numerous long rides.

Don Khor Ngee Leong
I actually beat him by a little bit in 1989, so he gave up Triathlons for a long time. In 2014, he beat me by almost a full hour. He came to my simple 50th birthday bash at my flat, we have been buddies a long time.
Muhamad Razani Husain (just behind Ahmadul Tahir, another legend from Sabah)
Razani was Malaysia's best for such a long time. Winning the prestigious Singapore's ABC Stout once, fourth at the Asian Championships in Sabah, still Malaysia's fastest Ironman, still one of the best in the country. He is the only person I know who has been racing consistently without any serious injuries since 1989. We had very high hopes then, but in Malaysia, its difficult to give sports a real go.
Yee Sze Mun
77 years old and still effing away (too late to change I guess). 15 times official Ironman Finisher including three at Hawaii. He plans to take part in Ironman Langkawi in Sept 2014. All the best Yee, we all love you.
The P.D. Tri web-site is here


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Doha Diamond League (10 May 2013)

The Samsung Diamond League is top level Athletics especially designed for world wide television. Unlike say the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games, where the Athletics program can stretch for more than one week, in the Diamond League, about a dozen Finals are held and completed within about three hours.
There are no heats, medal presentations, lengthy introductions etc. Everything moves with clockwork precision for live world wide TV viewing. Only top athletes take part, many are reigning Olympic Champions, World Champions, World Record holders etc.  
In the big events, it would be impossible for the fans to get close to the athletes. But in Doha, there is a way. You could pat every single athlete if you wished.
The trick is to get "Finish Line" tickets and not the more expensive VIP tickets. Once an event finishes, all athletes have to pass a narrow passage way right in front of the Finish Line seats. All the children and adult fans waited by the passage way. The "Security" people don't obstruct you because Doha in general has no crime. The Athletes were also very happy to give their race numbers, sign autographs, take pictures even chat with children at length.
So if you were an Athletics' Groupie, this was paradise. You could take their pictures up close, pose with them, maybe have a short chat. I wanted to see Allyson Felix again like last year ha ha.
Unfortunately, for the first time in about ten visits, Ms Felix only came second and she didn't pose for pictures with the fans, unlike last year.
But this year was even better than last year, I got pictures with Lord Sebastion Coe, Sergey Bubka, Nesta Carter, Michael Tinsley and took pictures of numerous World Record holders, Olympic Champions, European Champion etc This was it....
Lord Sebastion Coe
Sergey Bubka - broke the World Pole Vault record 35 times

Michael Tinsley - Silver 400m Hurdles London Olympics

Sandra Perkovic - Discuss Champion

Jackson USA. 2nd 400m Hurdles

David Rudisha about to start 800m

Well, David Rudisha won

200m won by Shelly Ann Fraser

My favourite Myriam Samoure, 3rd 200m

Shelly Ann Fraser

Kiprop, 1500m champion

100m hurdles

Lolo Jones

Veronica Borsi, Italy

Justin Gatlin won the 100m

Nesta Carter, third. 9.99 secs

Kim Collins - Fourth

Michael Rodgers 2nd 100m

Allyson Felix 2nd 400m

Javelin (3rd)  ANDREAS from Norway

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Ironman South Africa 2013 Official Review

This is a very well done summary of Ironman South Africa 2013 by the organisers.
I get goose bumps watching the video, I just love it.
The Malaysian flag is flying high at 10mins 30 secs of the video.
I sure hope I can go back soon. Its a very good race, I recommend it to everyone.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ironman South Africa 2013 Report

I am surprised that this Race is not sold out. I totally recommend this Race. I have done quite a few international Ironman races and Ironman South Africa is well done. The entry fee is cheaper than other Ironman races, its well organised, a very scenic location, convenient for family members, near the airport, plentiful and cheap accommodation near the race start / finish area, clean, large supermarket nearby, very friendly local population, crazy crowd support, incredible Game Reserves nearby, language used is English etc.

The next race is confirmed for 6 April 2014. It is the tenth anniversary and I predict that this race will be sold out.
The Best Travelling Companions
My wife and I travelled with our good friends from the Doha Bay Running Club (Emile and Wendy Fitzmaurice). They are South Africans, so we had no problems. Thank you Emile and Wendy.
Impressions of Port Elizabeth
The Race takes place at the port city of Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape Province. The nicknames it has are "The Friendly City"," The Windy City", "The Adventure Province" etc., all quite true. This was my first visit to Africa, my first visit to a country I despised whilst I was growing up, for its Aparthied practices. I wasn't quite sure what to expect.
Well I was pleasantly surprised.
Port Elizabeth is a beautiful seaside city. It is comparable to Busselton (home of IMWA). Where we stayed (Summerstrand), it was immaculate, clean, had nice accommodation etc. It was more immaculate and cleaner than Malaysia. I could see that the Afrikaans did a great job in developing South Africa. Its like going to Europe / Australia. The local population (whites, coloureds and blacks) were all very friendly, heck I had a wrong impression of this country all my life.
The pre-race formalities were just like at any other Ironman races.
The "Boardwalk". Where Race Registration, EXPO, Pasta Party, Awards Dinner were held. It has a Casino and many other things.
Race registration was a pleasant experience.
The friendly volunteer's name is Scott. The back pack they gave is huge and so practical for us.
Me and Emile getting our bicycles fixed. Services were not free.
The corner unit where we stayed, about 1.6km from race start.
A large Supermarket (Summerstrand Village) was nearby. It also has a café with free wifi.
Visit to ADDO Elephant National Park
A real "Zebra Crossing"
It was an incredible experience to visit a game reserve (ADDO Elephant National Park)
The EXPO is one of the best I have seen. Here we are posing with running legend Zola Budd, she is a lovely person.
Bike check in went smoothly
Everything had to go into the transition bags.
All changing had to be done in the changing tent, not at the bikes.

We had the pleasure of meeting Faris Al Sultan, the World Champion in 2005 and also Ironman Malaysia Champion in 2007.
Unfortunately we left our bags unattended during the Pasta Party and our wallet got stolen. Here we are making a Police Report. I must say I am totally impressed by the South African Police.
Why anyone would want to kill the gallant Policemen is beyond me.
The weather in the morning was perfect unlike the previous year. Lucky us.
Pom Pom Cheerleaders
Out of the water in 1 hour 23 minutes which is a tad slow for me. The water was very choppy but I didn't get sea sick', so the mass swim was quite OK.
Lap 1 (60 km). 2 hours 11 minutes. But could I keep this up?
 Lap 2, waving to my loved ones. 2 hour 11 mins again. Lap 3 was also 2 hours 11 minutes. So it was actually an excellent bike ride for me.
The new "Team Hoyt". They received a lot of love during the race. The standing ovation they received during the Awards Night didn't seem to stop. WELL DONE
The Men's Champion. Ronnie Schildknecht from Switzerland. He has won Ironman Switzerland 6 times including the one in July 2012, that I also finished. He was leading by such a huge margin on the bike, I was wondering what happened to the other Professionals. CONGRATULATIONS
First lap of the run. Slow but OK
2nd lap (14 km per lap). By now I was slower than people that were walking. I have had problematic feet since the year 2000. Even walking day to day is painful for my feet and groin area. I didn't mind. I received a lot of love from all spectators and fellow competitors. The spectators got really close to you. I must have heard the word "MOHAMMED" a hundred times. They did loved me, so who cares my Marathon took 7 hours 41 minutes.

My Finish is on the official video actually. I race in my running club T shirt and finish holding my country's flag.
It was an outstanding Awards Dinner. This time we did not leave our valuables unattended.
Top Ten Female Professionals. The Champion women came back at midnight to run in the last finisher. How sweet.
The Top Ten Men Professionals.
I will definitely return. Inshallah