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

Monday, March 04, 2013

Abu Dhabi Triathlon Race Report (Short Course on 2 March 2013)

We all hear about this high profile race and hope to one day do it. What stopped me previously was that the Abu Dhabi Triathlon was not an Ironman distance race. It didn't seem worthwhile to incur the expense for a non Ironman distance event.
But now, I am only living about 324 km (by plane) away, so there is no excuse.
It is a top event. It is very well organised. It is an opportunity to visit a very modern city located in the middle east. It is a wonderful race location. But the crowd support was the least I have ever experienced in my whole life. I think there wasn't a single clap when I finished, I missed the camaraderie of my running club friends. Everyone seemed engrossed in their own thing, which was to have lunch. Thus I don't rate it as a must do event during your lifetime. In an Ironman, everyone is willing you to finish, you are made to feel special, you feel a very strong sense of accomplishment at the end. But not this time. I guess I have been spoilt by the wonderful crowd support we get in other races.
Swim (1.5km)
Its important to quickly study the swim course from the beach. Make a mental note of what the turning buoys look like. More importantly watch out for landmarks behind the buoys. The landmarks are what you are aiming for during the swim. I noticed the earlier wave did not take the shortest route back to the beach, they were aiming for the start gantry which is not the exit point for the swim.
The swim was nice, the sun was shining, the wave start meant it was not a crowded swim, we could always see the city skyscrappers. So it was nice.
26 mins 44 secs said my Garmin. I normally do 29 mins in the pool, either the course was short, the wet suit helped or the training in a Lagoon with my buddy (Emile) had helped.
T 1
It was long transition for me. The pavement was slippery. I have fallen before running after the swim, so I ran gingerly. The transition tent was nice with your own pre-numbered spot, wore my thick socks and collected the bike. The red carpet was nice and soft for my problematic feet. A good 150m pushing the bike before the actual bike start. Almost 6 mins T 1 for me. I was very slow.
Bicycle (100km)
The bike ride was on 7 lanes (including the emergency lanes) of a closed highway. Incredible. The roads were super smooth. Very adequate aid stations. The ride inside the colourful F1 YAS Marina Circuit was a moment to saviour.
But on the way back I started to panic. I had missed the race briefing thinking the route was just out and back. There was a turning point near the YAS Marina and I didn't do it. Some kind participants clarified to me there would be a "blue turning" which we were to do and head back towards a "black turning" point. I heard some participants took the wrong turning. The "confusing" turning points was the only unclear thing with the course.
I had a good comfortable bike ride actually. The weekly solo 100 km + 11 km brick sessions I did at Lusail for the past two months paid off. Normally in an Ironman, everyone seemed to fly by me. But there were some casual participants this time. I seemed to pass by people when it got windy. Lusail was the perfect training ground for time trialling. Thank you, thank you, thank you Lusail. Thank you Qatar actually.
3 hours 20 mins (averaging 30 km per hour) for an accurate 100km.
T 2
I made the mistake of pushing the bike wearing my cycling shoes. Next time I hope to remember leaving the cycling shoes on the bike and run wearing just the socks. 4.5 minutes for T 2. Its slowish.
Run (10km or 9.7 km on my Garmin)
It was hot but not burning hot if you stopped at every aid station. My thighs felt fine so that was a good sign. I did not have a smooth gait for the first 3 km. Then I recalled how my buddy Shawn Delue ran, which is with a very high back kick. So I concentrated on a high back kick and the run suddenly felt smooth. I knew I could then finish but the left calf injury was coming back. If it was an Ironman, I would have DNF.
54 minutes including stops at every aid station. Heck, I was ecstatic as I only managed 53 mins during the recent Doha College 10km.
Total time: 4 hours 51 mins. To be frank I had a very good race. I had been in pain for a good few months and was not quite sure about my physical health. The pain killers I started taking about one week before the race did the trick.
Acknowledgements. I sincerely thank my wife for all her help, the Doha Bay Running Club, Emile Fitzmaurice my training buddy, Bernard from Pad Yak Tri, the bike shops in Malaysia, so many people. Thank you
Next Race:
Ironman South Africa on 14 April 2013. I hope that I finish it within the 17 hours qualifying time.