2XU Ultra Biathlon – ian

The website says “Are you prepared for the next race?”

Well I thought I was prepared, but the race organisers really outdid themselves this time. A new standard of disappointment.

Feeling fatigued from racing the last 2 weeks, especially after the 10km last weekend where I crossed the line with my heart buzzing like a memo jazz with new batteries; I was going to jump at any excuse not to go for this biathlon.That aside, I don’t usually participate in so many races, but I did it to motivate me a little, to sort of “kick start” my system and get me out of my ZZzzzz zone.

I want to give my best at every race…and that morning, I knew I didn’t prepare well the week leading up to this. Excuses aside, I thought I could still put a decent effort; besides, Raymond went along for cheer leading so I’d better turn up!! hahaha.

I’m usually not a picky person so several issues just slipped through into background chatter that morning. Nevermind the indie-style setup, small transition area with multiple bags on ONE hook, hand drawn body markers (nothing new to me, RunfixieRun had it and it was fine), a malfunctioning PA announcement system, a non existent PA system at the race start, non existent starting horn, a goodie bag with a single energy gel, 3 black trashbags tied together as a bouy (that’s new)….. all that, I brushed aside and started the race with enthusiasm that even the taste of Changi’s salt water didn’t matter.

Focus on the race, get a conservative swim in…and fire up the run.

supposed swim route

supposed swim route

i know i usually have navigation issues, but....

i know i usually have navigation issues, but….

It was meant to be a 2.5 loop swim covering 2km, but the wheels started falling apart on the final loop. Bouy number 2 got detached and started drifting away, I’ve read that the race leader Arnaud Selukov eventually swam 2.8km because he was chasing a moving target. The rest of the pack swam between 3-3.5km (based on the complaints on their facebook page). I almost reached the elusive bouy when a boat came over and towed it away, the guys onboard instructed us to swim to shore.

That’s it, I thought the race would be discontinued. That was the trigger point I needed, an excuse to not continue the massive half marathon that awaits me.

A line of swimmers started swimming towards shore and it took a bloody long time to get back (which I think is an actual safety concern), I only knew I swam an extra 1km plus when I looked at my watch as I got out of the water. I was leisurely heading back, thinking about how the organisers will be in so much trouble, and how many people would be asking for a refund; I imagined Arthur laughing at me with a “i told you so” look. argh.

I saw the first few swimmers hitting shore, and running towards transition. I was surprised. Surprised that everyone still had the spirit to carry on, despite such a disappointment. I got out of the water in disbelief walked towards the transition area, seeing Raymond there ready to catch a picture. I didn’t know how to tell him, there were so much vulgarities I didn’t know which one to choose. He didn’t know what happened, and was wondering why I was taking such  a long time to get back.

Many things went through my mind before I gave up. I almost continued onto the run (which luckily I didn’t, after reading the reviews on the run course) but I thought it wouldn’t make sense. Some people can run a 21km on any day; in fact some could do a biathlon of this distance on a training day. One of the things I enjoy about racing in an event, is the race atmosphere, the energy amongst the crowd, the pressure that actually spurs you to push harder and go beyond what you usually do on a ‘training’ day. That feeling was lost, and even when Raymond told me I could just treat this like a training day and continue the race, I couldn’t do it; because even if I wanted to train, I want to train happy.

I see some volunteers trying their best to make the best out of an already bad situation, it was not their fault that things turned out this way. Kudos to them, for their enthusiasm to get up so early, brave the morning sun and face the complaints from the participants.

With my limited amount of experience in racing, this looked bad. I felt bad….. but the chicken briyani at changi village made that morning better.


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