Some great performances over a hot, unexpectedly hilly course. with Rob T posting a 4:41, Dom E 4:46, Ulrich 4:52, Marc G 5:08, Supha 5:31, Jamie B 5:38, Grace Su 6:05 and Tim E 6.15. Aaron Davis (SLabber) came in on 6:20, along with 2 ex-Tritons Dane Cantwell posted a zippy 4:56 and Tanya-Lee Parker 5:44 who stepped onto the podium in 3rd and 2nd respectively. Well done everyone! Read on for more…
Bangsaen is a sleepy coastal resort about halfway between Bangkok and Pattaya in Thailand. Already home to the annual Bangsaen Triathlon Olympic Distance race, the inaugural Ironman 70.3 event was held here on 24 February 2019 and it was a Bang-er (ahem) of a race. No pros, just dedicated age groupers in the spotlight.
A flamboyance of 14 Flamingos (well at least that’s what our tri suits make us look like), including 5 Tritons – Rob T, Marc G, Tim E, Jamie B and myself and one Slabber Aaron Davis – rolled into town from Bangkok on our sleeper bus, preening around in our blue and pink garb. The other Tritons in attendance – Supha, Grace, Ulrich and (Tritons vet) Dane – did well to give us a wide berth.
The conditions were hot as hell. 32 Celsius but felt like 37, 78% humidity. Like Danang, but with hills! The swim was a triangular route in fairly rough seas with low visibility, a short trot into transition and onto a beautiful, rolling bike course that took us from the coast out on the highways and then quieter country roads (complete with excitable dogs) leading out to the turnaround point at the Bang Phra reservoir and back to transition onto a fairly exposed run, lapping 3 times around a hilly, forested headland complete with resident monkeys.
As for me, I was having a great time. Until it became a sufferfest. The choppy conditions suited me on the swim (compared to swimmers with better pool technique!) and I came in on 36 mins, hopping onto the bike only to be passed (inevitably) at the 35K mark by Rob T steaming through, the rolling stones lips on the bum of his tri suit taunting me as he passed. Felt good until the turnaround point and then the combo of heat and rolling terrain took their toll and I couldn’t push any harder, power dropping slightly from the first half: 2:27. Getting onto the run with a spring in my step, I knew to hold back a bit as a long, gradual but draining hill starts around 3k and I knew I’d have to run it 3 times. A 4:15 pace turned to a 5:39 on the hills and I was only distracted from the searing heat by high-fiving other Tritons and the amusing sight of Thai soldiers with catapults defending the athletes from the monkeys. As soon as the hills were behind me it was a semi-sprint to the finish and ended with a huge smile on my face coming down the red carpet draped in a Union Jack and flapping like a flamingo on the finish line: 1:36 (overall, 4:46). The ice bath after never felt so good.
Looking back, the race atmosphere and organisation was great and the setting was fantastic. Being only an hour and change from Bangkok, this race is easy to get to and well worth doing.