Jaime and I took a short trip to another hot island north of us, to watch some friends Ironman their way thru the tough hilly/hot course of Langkawi. It was Raymond’s first ironman and Mark’s 2nd, and looking at their faces on Friday when I met them for lunch, they knew it was going to be as tough as “they” said it would be.
The race in Langkawi came back into existence after stopping for a few years; and the island was busy-ing itself to get ready for a massive race. There weren’t much road closures with a few traffic jams at some popular roads leading up to town; but feedback was that the riders felt relatively safe with vehicles keeping quite a good distance when passing them. I guess most of the Singaporean riders have been gotten used to the kind of traffic back home.
After dropping off their stuff in transition that Friday afternoon; we had our dinner with the friendly group from Swimbikerun. The group of veterans were sharing their past experiences while the wide eyed Noobs like me just sat and listen to their war stories in other ironman races.
By the time Jaime and I reached the swim start, most of the guys have prepared their transition stuff and were waiting for the start. Big contingents from Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines. Everyone with nervous smiles.
It will be a rolling start this morning; After the professionals set off, the main group of 1400 participants will just form a long queue and jump in for their swim. Quite good feedback on this system, especially for those who don’t look forward to the sheer violence of a mass start. I watched them jump of the edge of a mini pontoon, like penguins off an ice ledge…. the race of their lifetime has just begun. And it’s time for my breakfast!
Headed back to the hotel for a quick brekky and we’re back to catch the boys coming out of transition; most of them posting some pretty decent swim times. The day was heating up and some of them were obviously well covered in sun protection. Spent some time taking some photos and we hopped onto our motorbike and made our way unto the bike course. There were some road closures but most of the bike course was still open to traffic; while it was convenient for us to navigate around to catch our friends in action, we also didn’t want to add to the traffic and endanger the bikers. On the whole, it was a really hot day and the hills were relentless!
It’s obvious, after such challenging conditions throughout the day, the real battle will be surviving the run. While Jaime and I rang our cowbell, we could sometimes get back a shoutout and wave, or sometimes just a grin or nod. You could tell the day has taken a heavy toll on their already beaten bodies. And while the sun sets on our side of the world pretty early (7ish), it soon got dark and some sections of the run were reduced to a nightwalk. It would’ve been mentally tough to go thru those patches of quiet dark parts of the track at this point of the race. We met our ironproject follower Fuse Lee, at last seeing him in person, congratulations on his first ironman finish.
We finally made our way to the finish point to welcome our heroes back home…. watching them running thru the finisher’s chute with that smile across their faces.
Congratulations to Raymond on banking in his first Ironman with a respectable 14:29hrs, Mark Yeo bagged his second Ironman at 14:56hrs.
Kudos to the fast Singaporeans!! Ewin Teo was the first Singaporean to cross the line. Chelsie Tan and Choo Ling Er winning their Age Groups and the coveted slot for the World Championships in Kona 2015.
And of course, every single soul out there that was in battle that day. I’m sure it was an awesome fight…..now it’s time to rest and recover.
Do check out our full album of photos here!