How many of you have had the experience of visiting three countries in one day? Now imagine doing that in one race – it’s a truly unique experience.
Last weekend, my team-mates and I travelled to Chiang Rai in the North of Thailand to take part in the Golden Triangle triathlon. I didn’t fully appreciate the awesomeness of the race until race morning.
We all loaded onto a shuttle bus at the tender hour of 5am to be taken to T1 on the shores of the Mekong River. After sorting out our bikes, we jumped onto a large barge that took us 1.5km up the heavily sedimented waters of the Mekong, where 3m long cat-fish were said to be lurking below.
You could feel the tension building on the boat as we got to the designated “drop spot”, and we all made our way to the back of the boat. The long low drone of the boat’s horn was our start signal and we dived off the boat, quickly being swept away by the fast-moving river.
The cold water really hit me, and that along with my right goggle filling up caused me to feel quite uncomfortable in the water. The words of Jurgen hung with me, making the adrenaline pump even harder “anything can happen on this swim”. And indeed it could.
It was necessary to be extremely tactical to avoid missing the swim exit and being swept downstream. Luckily, there was the back up of jet skis and paddle boats to catch those who were swept passed it, but this would add several minutes onto the swim.
With a fully inundated right goggle, sighting the exit on the right bank was a slight issue, and resulted in a lot of ferocious head twisting.
I realised that I was slightly off course and had underestimated the current, and last minute made a sharp turn to swim towards the shore at 90 degrees. I slammed into the side of a large black plastic pontoon just downstream of the exit, and my legs were pulled around the side and tugged downstream, whilst my upper body and arms were flailing around at a right angle. I managed to grab hold of some loose netting on the under side of the pontoon to yank my legs around.
Luckily, a marshall was there to pull me out. I had survived the Mekong. Now to survive the bike and run.
The bike through Thailand was flat and pretty fast to begin with. I rode solo for most of the first 25 km, at which point 3 guys caught me and I managed to hold onto the back, of course fully respecting the 7m thai drafting rule. The big hill was coming up and I didn’t want to get dropped on it, knowing that having company on the final 20 km of the 50km bike course would make a big difference. I stayed with the boys, and we worked together to T2.
I felt good, and for once I hadn’t finished both of my bottles on the bike – a sign that it was cooler than what I was used to racing in.
The first 3km of the run were flat until we reached Myanmar. The boys I had cycled with went off but I stuck to my set pace, and for once didn’t get carried away. As we crossed the border gate into Myanmar, it struck me just how significant this race was to these two towns on either side of the border. All the immigration officials were watching and cheering, taking photos.
As I moved into Myanmar, there was a definite change in ambiance: it was clear they didn’t see too many blonde girls running through their streets wearing tight lycra. I was being handed water, towelettes and most essentially mid-race some raw rice from multiple directions – the water I was most grateful for!
The roads hadn’t been closed off, and we were running alongside traffic, with tuk tuks overtaking us, or in some cases, us overtaking them (I don’t think MOT’s exist in Myanmar yet).
As I moved into the next section, the hilly section, my pace inevitably slowed on the 12% climb. This is where the going got very tough, and the temptation to walk started filtering through my mind.
Ahead I saw one of the guys who had come into T2 with me, and I was catching him. So I made it my goal to get as close to him as possible by the top of the hill. We arrived at the aid station at the top together, and ran together for the next 3 km back through Thailand.
In the final km, he sprinted away from me, and I’m disappointed to say that I didn’t quite have it in my legs to chase him down.
But no race is perfect, and you always learn a bit more about yourself, your strengths and weaknesses in everyone you do.
You’ve just got to make sure you identify them, adapt them, and work on them.
Nonetheless, I’m pleased with my race. I raced strong, and I raced hard. I like to think I put my stamp on three countries, and had a lot of fun doing it with the Z-Coaching crew there.
Thank you to Jurgen, for organising us and getting me race ready. Thank you also to Tanate, the race organiser for running such a smooth and fun event. Also, muchisimos gracias to Jiakina Customized and BV Sport for getting me dressed for training and racing.
Thank you for reading! Imo x
“Maybe today you don’t achieve everything you want, but if you aim always in the same direction, you will be a person destined to succeed.” – Mauricio Gonzalez Vidal