Saturday, July 22, 2017

Bali Charity Ocean Swim 10 km (2 July 2017)

This is our third consecutive year doing the Bali 10 km Ocean Swim. Our previous years were 2016 and 2015.

Bali is an expensive place !!
Its not good to gripe, but  watch your expenses when you go to Bali. Some things seem to be really expensive,  more expensive than Spain.
I tell myself every year to be careful when I go to Bali, but I still get caught paying astronomical amounts for nothing.
The official airport taxi fare to our Kuta hotel, was IDR 175,000 (RM 56 / USD 13), for only 3 km !!! I stupidly agreed because there were signs to only use the official airport taxis. No real receipt issued, it was just a piece of nothing paper!!! This is the official airport taxis "taking you for a ride" and they have no meters!

Next time : I will use a "pirate" taxi from the airport or arrange in advance for the hotel to do it for free.
It was the same when going back to the airport using the Hotel's taxi (IDR 150,000).
Next time : Create a UBER account. A good friend of ours was only charged IDR 9,000 (RM 3) for a UBER motor bike. The UBER rates for cars are very cheap too.
This was a killer as hotels don't  have cooking facilities. 21% local tax is levied on all restaurant bills. Be prepared to pay RM 60 per person for each meal. The food bills were mind blowing and if you want your tipple too, oh oh.

Next time : I will get in and out of Bali as fast as I can.
The event's Entry Fee was high at USD 100 for the normal rate and USD 120 on race day, but this is for Charity (Bali Sports Foundation). The BSF carries out sports programs for the handicapped. The Race Director (Rodney Holt) is even coming to Malaysia for the Para SEA Games (coach for "Boccia"). So the high entry fee I feel is ok, I even top it up every year with  personal donations to the BSF and Lifeguards.
Air-fare is also quite high, comparable with going to Perth I think.

We have been to Bali many times now and every time I end up in a daze wondering how  I finished so much money (eg 3 days expenses at Bali was the same as for 7 days in Spain).
So be weary, if you are planning to do the Bali Ocean Swim.
The actual swim is of course very good. I like it a lot.
Central and Beautiful Location
The event location (Bali Garden Beach Resort) is on Kuta Beach which is very close to the Airport (Denpasar) and many other hotels, thus the event location is very easy to get to.

Its very important that your Hotel is very close to the race start as you need to clear your tummy on race morning, go back for a shower, that its convenient for your loved ones etc. Our Hotel (Kuta Station and Spa) was just across the road. Having your Hotel nearby is key to having a good or bad race.
Kuta Beach is also beautiful and popular for surfing. The beach is long and clear. There are no rocks, so its very safe. In the evenings, lots of people throng the beach to admire the sunset. The Kuta ocean is also quite a beautiful blue. This year (2017), the conditions were very good for a fast swim.
Race distances and categories
There's 1.2 km, 5 km and 10 km.
For the 1.2 km and 5 km races, the Male and Female categories were broken down into Juniors, Adults, Masters and Veterans (above 50 years).
Whilst for 10 km, there's only Open Male and Open Female (nothing else).
I saw nice wood carving trophies on offer for Veteran Males (my category) for the 5 km. But similar to the Labuan race,  I opted for the longer distance "Open" category where I have no chance of getting a prize.
(We will only write about the 10 km race on this page).

As in previous years, the 10 km race started at 9 a.m. sharp.
Its roughly four laps of 2.5 km each, swimming parallel to the shore.
The course is set out by the Kuta Beach Lifeguards (Baliwista) and they are everywhere during the event. There was hardly any waves this year, thus it is a safe event.
Mineral water is available at the turnarounds and with the roving kayaks. Put some gels in your swim wear and you will be fine.
The trick is to always watch the buoy in front of you and try to keep a straight a line as possible. Then you will be fine.
There were less than 20 participants for the 10 km.  5 Malaysians participated but none got on the podium as the 10 km event attracts very good swimmers.

The results of the Malaysians were:
  1. Seah Ban Kiat       2 hours 47 min
  2. Prof Dr Ghazali     3 hours 0 min
  3. Jessie                     3 hours 0 min
  4. Sofian                    3 hours 5 min
  5. Thong                    4 hours 15 min
The five Malaysian 10 km finishers
In previous years the 10 km was dominated by two powerful female swimmers from Australia, they would even beat the men. They didn't participate this year and the event was dominated by 16 year olds. In swimming its quite common for teenagers to dominate.
10 km Results
I was almost last, as usual

 Seah Ban Kiat is my long time sports buddy now working in Qatar (where I was until recently). He was on holiday in Malaysia and a casual question, "where is the swimming pool?" became, man lets go to Bali this weekend.
I told him everything I knew about the Bali swim and he ended up being the first Malaysian in 2:47, I was so surprised. Well done buddy.
Prof Dr Ghazali I know from swimming at the University Malaya pool 25 years ago. I used to admire his very smooth butterfly and freestyle strokes. He still has the smooth strokes and is going places in the swimming world.
Jessie is from Kuching, Sarawak and was an accomplished swimmer in her earlier days. I first saw her at the Pattaya 10km in Dec 2016 where she did very well. Her swim mileage for Bali was very low on Doctor's advice but she could still pull off a 3 hour flat for 10 km, no mean feat that.
I used to always swim with Thong Kok Leong in the same lane at the Kampong Pandan Para Excellence Centre. Whilst his stroke was dodgy, indicating he was new to swimming, he had the best mental tenacity of all swimmers. He did his required number of laps everyday and wasn't distracted by anything. Thus he has now completed three 10 km or longer swims.
Thong was the last 10 km swimmer to finish at Bali. We love him and all waited for him on the beach. Well done Thong.
I guess the 10 km swimming community is very small. We all know each other quite well. 

My past 3 years performance:
2015    3 hours 34 min     8.6 km       2:29 / 100 m    
2016    4 hours 17 min    11.2 km      2:17 / 100 m
2017    3 hours 5 min        9.7 km      1:54 / 100 m

2 July 2017
Maybe we are improving, sea was extra calm this year.

Event is good, it is for Charity, its located near the airport (thus easy to get to), many hotels nearby, quite a beautiful location, organized by the Bali Lifeguards (thus it is safe) but Bali is way too expensive.

We always love the last finisher, Thong Kok Leong

Goofing around at the Podium

Briefing by Chief Lifeguard amidst the nice setting of the Bali Garden Beach Resort

10 km about to start. As usual less than 20 participants

Giving a little something to the Lifeguard,
which we do every year

Giving a little something to the Bali Sports Foundation through
Rodney Holt, the Race Director

Finishing the 10 km.
Very safe, two kayaks were shadowing me for the last lap


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