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



sofiantriathlete said...

Thank you Kevin, very gracious in your compliments as always

sofiantriathlete said...

Thank you Kevin, very gracious in your compliments as always

sofiantriathlete said...

oops sorry
I have accidentally deleted Kevin's comments

Kevin Siah said...

Hahaha and you posted your comment twice! Now that's taking my previous comment of mentioning yourself to another level hahaha

sofiantriathlete said...

I didn't blog a long time, pressed all the wrong buttons.

Have a good day Kevin
Thank you

Meng said...

Hi, my name is Aw Seng Meng; stumbled to your blog by chance.
I took part in both the Penang race in 1988 and the PD race in 1989. Have met you before at the Sunday Pacesetters morning runs years ago. I am now 60 yrs old, and retired from work and triathlons. Cannot ride a road bike because of some spine problem but am thinking of taking part again with a mountain bike, but shy la to do so in the company of all those fierce tri bikes.

Azim Norazmi said...

I thought Razani is from Kelantan. Inspired to read your blog for triathlete wannabe like me.

Julie said...

Hey,,thx for sharing this with us newbies. Must be very sentimental for you. All the best for Langkawi. I won't be there physically but my soul will,cheering you guys up all the way.

TriStupe said...

Thank you for the walk down memory lane. PD was my first triathlon bck in 2004 as well. Been a 10 year for me in this sports and like you, never looked back.

Been meaning to catch up with you but I never had any luck bumping into you.

sofiantriathlete said...

Hi Aw Seng Meng (Doctor?), Azim, Juliana Ali and Lim Ee Van.
I hope everything is OK with you all.

Mr Meng, I am most honoured to make contact with you, someone who actually did the first Triathlon in Msia (Penang 1988). Nowadays Triathlons especially P.D. attracts a lot of first timers, no need to feel shy with your MTB. Also its quite often, the person who is the slowest, that receives the loudest cheer. So don't be shy.

I am not doing Langkawi or any full Ironman because of some Osteo arthritis.

Not sure when is my next trip back to MY. Depends on instructions from family members back home. Being away from family is the most difficult part of living overseas.

All the best everyone.

Aktar Rahman said...

Thank you for sharing this epic history

Len Kuan said...

Penang Triathlon 1990 became a Duathlon event due to choppy sea. We were in same chartered bus from KL to Penang and back.