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In November two of my passions will be fused together. Triathlon and Thailand, more precisely, Ironman and Phuket. I’m registered to race the Ironman Thailand 70.3 that will take place in Phuket on November 26th.
From time to time I get strange looks when mentioning the Ironman competition. People ask if there is anything to do with Tony Stark. The answer is “nope”, the Ironman triathlon started back in 1978 , gained popularity throughout the 2000’s and now it’s booming all around the world. Ironman has two types of triathlon competition. The “full” Ironman that consists of swimming 3.8km, cycling 180km and running 42km and the “half” Ironman or Ironman 70.3. As the name suggests it’s half of the length, so swimming 1.9km, cycling 90km and running 21km.
“Before continuing on the reasons to race the Ironman Thailand in Phuket let me tell you that the registration for it can be done on Ironman’s official website. Registrations will end on Nov. 5th, or as soon as they reach yhe maximum number of participants. So hurry up!”
Why race the Ironman Thailand in Phuket?
Well, Phuket is one of my favorite holiday destinations in Thailand. It offers sandy beaches with a calm sea, from desert ones as Mai Kao to the busy Patong beach. In addition to beaches, there are tropical jungles, mangroves and of course, the crystal clear waters of Andaman sea, absolutely great for snorkeling and diving.
Thai cuisine is another reason why I keep returning to Phuket. You can taste delicious Thai dishes at the night markets or unique restaurants as Raya and Kan Eang Pier Restaurant. Fans of architecture and history will dig Phuket Old Town and its Sino-Portuguese buildings. If you are into shopping there are a couple of big malls and countless shops selling souvenirs and local crafts.
You can use Phuket as a base to explore nearby islands and attractions as there are daily boats to Phi Phi, James Bond Island and Similan Islands.
I discovered the “sporty” side of Phuket back in 2015 while training to Paris Marathon. While on the island, my training ranged from 15 to 28 km and most of them were done around Patong beach, the busiest beach of Phuket. Although it is very quiet during sunrise and the temperatures were pleasant for running, the stunning views and sunrises were my motivation to train.
As I mentioned before, the sea is usually calm, without strong currents. I’ve swum in Kata, Karon, Surin, Mai Kao and Kamala. All of them were absolutely stunning! I didn’t have the chance to cycle in Phuket although I drove a motorbike around the island and saw many cyclists. From my perception the drivers respect the cyclers but in some points the roads are quite narrow.
In my opinion, Phuket is a great triathlon destination because you can combine a great Ironman race with a relaxing getaway. You can travel alone, with your friends or with your husband, wife, kids… it’s the perfect destination for either a family holiday or a romantic getaway. Ironman Thailand 70.3 will take place in Bang Tao Beach and its starting point, transition 1, transition 2 and finishing line are basically around the same premises, which is awesome for spectators and athletes.
These are the some of the reasons why I decided to join Ironman 70.3 Phuket but I can give you at least 30 more reasons to do it, there will be 30 qualifying age group slots for the 2018 Ironman 70.3 Championship to be held in South Africa.
Where to stay in Phuket for Ironman 70.3
The best area to stay when racing the Ironman Thailand is around Bang Tao beach. There are several luxury resorts, mid range hotels and apartments for rent in the area.
Our choice was the Angsana Laguna Phuket, the official hotel for the competition. I want to be right in the spot where the action happens. It’s easier to attend the race briefing, to do the bike check in and I won’t need to wake up much earlier on the race day. On top of the convenience, the resort has great facilities and amazing rooms.
Ironman 70.3 Thailand, Course and Organization
The race course is available on this page but bear in mind that the organization might change the courses to guarantee athletes’ safety. The current 3 Ironman Phuket courses look great.
Ironman 70.3 Phuket Swim: swimming is in a calm bay, the buoys are arranged on a “L” shape which is easier to navigate.
Ironman 70.3 Phuket Bike: the cycling course is getting mixed opinions, it is mainly flat but racers will have to dismount twice to cross a pedestrian bridge. I don’t believe that it will interfere much on my performance so I’m not worried about that.
Ironman 70.3 Phuket Run: the running course consists of 2 laps around Laguna Phuket area, again basically a flat course. It will be great to run under some shade!
Sunrise Events is behind the organization of Ironman 70.3 Thailand in Phuket. It will be the second time they manage this race and from what I’ve heard from athletes that raced last year’s edition, they put together a great race. They have long tradition in managing triathlon competitions in the Philippines and Vietnam.
Weather in Phuket in November
Be ready to sweat. November is usually the end of the rain season with temperatures ranging from 24C to 30C and humidity usually over 75%. At this time the island still gets some rains, especially at night. Fingers crossed for a not so warm day on November 26th!
Training for Ironman in Thailand
To train for Ironman you need time, willpower and dedication. I don’t have any issues with that, my only issue is following a routine. Being a full time traveler adds on an extra challenge. My trainings for Ironman Thailand will be partially in Brazil, Italy, Romania, Austria, Switzerland, Portugal, Taipei and Thailand. Changing countries every week or so, makes it hard to establish a routine. So far I’ve been managing to run well but my swimming and cycling training have been pretty much non-existent. But that makes me believe that anyone can train and race an Ironman 70.3, if I can do it with this crazy traveling routine, anyone can do it too.
During my 3 years of non-stop traveling, I managed to train and complete the Paris Marathon, the Angkor Wat Half Marathon, the Chiang Mai Half Marathon, the Ironman Langkawi in Malaysia and the San Fermo Trail in Italy. Now it’s time to add the 70.3 Ironman Phuket to my list.
What equipment you will need to race Ironman
The shorter answer is: a pair of running shoes, a bike and goggles. The longer one I could breakdown per modality:
Swimming: comfortable goggles and a swimsuit or pair of shorts are essentials. You can add several accessories to help on your trainings but on the race day you will need only your goggles and your swim garment.
Cycling: here is the tricky part, because the sky’s the limit when it comes to bikes. Bike parts, helmets, shoes and much more. On my first Ironman I raced with a Felt, on the second one with a Volt and in Phuket 70.3 I still haven’t decided yet.
Running: the easiest one! Buy a VERY comfortable pair of running shoes. I’ve tried a few brands as Adidas, Saucony, Asics and New Balance. My favorite brand is New Balance, their running shoes are extremely comfortable and stylish, and don’t forget about socks with good cushions and a comfortable pair of running shorts.
Having a watch to keep track of your performance helps a lot. I can recommend 2 brands, Garmin and TomTom, I have used them both and their gadgets are top quality. Currently I’m training with my TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music. It’s an awesome watch that comes with wireless earphones and a capacity to store up to 500 songs, enough soundtrack for your Ironman 70.3 training.
To be honest, this list can go on and on, nutrition is very important (there are carb gels, mass gainers, recovery shakes…), compression clothes, sunglasses, backpacks, sunscreen and more.
Final Thoughts about Ironman Thailand 70.3
Not only Phuket should be on your travel itinerary to Thailand, after the competition having your medal on your chest take time to explore the other islands, the countryside and Bangkok. A perfect Thai trip needs to have a stop by Chiang Mai [read here our guide to explore the best of Chiang Mai and also a coffee and trekking experience].
Bangkok is a must! If it’s your first time in Thailand’s bustling capital read our ultimate guide to things to do in Bangkok, where to stay and how to get around. If you have already traveled to BKK, have a look on our especial list of unique and cool things to do in Bangkok beyond the top attractions.
After November return to this post and check out my Ironman 70.3 Thailand race review!
What about you? Have you ever raced a triathlon competition? Would you race Ironman Thailand in Phuket?