My Ironman 70.3 Sri Lanka Experience

Sometimes you read a story so kick ass you just wanna tell it to the whole world. This was posted at the Community Forum by Harold aka MASIdxb, who did Ironman 70.3 Sri Lanka.

As a backgrounder, Harold did his first 70.3 in Camsur last August 2011. He finished with a time of 6:29:07. Now, you’re probably thinking, what makes this story different? Did he get a p.r. or something?

Yup, he did, but that isn’t the best part. This story epitomizes the power of the mind and what happens when you use that strength, to force your body to do things beyond what it’s designed to do.

To everyone training for Ironman 70.3 Cebu, especially the first-timers.  This one is for all of you.

The moral of the story? Read on as Harold takes you thru his experience at the inaugural Ironman 70.3 Sri Lanka.. I’m sure you’ll figure it out :)

After doing my first IM 70.3 last August 2011 in Camsur with a finish time of 6:29:07. As soon as I went back to UAE, I decided to register for this Inaugural race in Sri Lanka without even thinking on how dangerous it is to do an Ironman event in this country.

I would like to share my experience being a newbie to this multisport and hope that I can also inspire newbies.

17 Feb 2012 (Fri) – Landed in Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo Srilanka @ quarter past 5AM. It was nearly a 5 hours flight from Dubai and an hour ½ time difference – I didn’t find it hard to adjust with the time zone.

Me and veteran triathlete Alexander Bautista

We stayed comfortably in Cinnamon Grand Colombo which is situated just exactly opposite the Indian Ocean with very close proximity to the transition areas. Took a power nap and just before the sun rises, me and Alex went off for an easy run along the corniche where the run leg will be positioned. Weather was a bit humid with strong head and cross winds. I was happy to feel that my injury is behaving during the run.( Plantar Faciatis – left foot 95% healed)

After the run session I took the time to search for a Chinese restaurant in time for lunch – just to be on the safe side not to have LBM before race day.

After lunch, I went on to fix my bike. Around mid afternoon, I went for registration in Taj Samudra Hotel. Upon reaching the registration area, we were surprised to know that our race kits are not yet ready. The guys from the organizing team even told us that our race kits are still in the customs!!! So I just had my wrist band, my timing chip and my race number in stickers to be put on the left arm.

After registration, I went back to the hotel and did my swim session in the pool. Before sunset, I went back again to the registration area to ask about the race kits, still it’s not yet available. Organizers are telling us that they will give the race kits upon checking-in our bikes the following days ( a day before race day).

On my way out, I saw some fellow Pinoys who are also participating the event. I went to ask them about the road condition and if we can ride together in the morning of Saturday. Unsure of whether it is safe to go for a ride, we decided then to try if and when possible.

With Alexander Bautista , Jonathan Bondoc and his boss who both did the last 70.3 in Camsur

18 Feb 2012 (Sat) – 5:30 AM. Me and my roommate woke up to check the bike course. As I heard it from the other guys that the roads are really bumpy and lots of manholes. Even Faris Al Sultan told us to be careful on the roads even it’s early cause most of the people in Sri Lanka doesn’t have any clue about the Ironman happening in their country.

As soon as we hit the 10k mark, that’s the time I noticed the danger on doing a bike training on their roads. Bus drivers don’t really care at all even if you give signal. The traffic was way too crazy to the extreme! Upon going back to the hotel, we were being chased by a DOG, such a funny and scary experience just before race day.

A quick chat with PRO triathlete Faris Al Sultan who happens to be leading our long rides on fridays in UAE.

7:00 AM – Indian Ocean Swim Practice. As soon as I hit the water, I noticed about our buoyancy. It’s like we were just doing a swim session in the pool. I felt really heavy on the water. Start area has all the sharp rocks underneath which is really dangerous for an event like this. Waves are like 2 meters high and the water was choppy. Just after the swim, I visualized all possibilities during race day. I knew then it will be a big challenge for me
doing a 1.9 swim in  the Indian Ocean with the given scenario.

On our way to the swim practice – Indian Ocean

A few kilometers away is Maldives Island Cheesy

4:30 PM – Bike / Run gear Check In

Checking the brakes before going to T1

I intentionally waited 30 minutes before the bike check-in closes to rack my bike as I am unsure of the safety of our things. I even asked if it’s possible to check in my bike during race day as I am so worried and even don’t want to leave my bike overnight. Organizers assured us that army troops will be available to watch over our bikes – at least it gave me a little confidence that nothing will go wrong.

Faris Al Sultan’s TT bike was the first one to be racked on T1

After cheking in my bike, I attended the race briefing and was again surprised by their decision to change the bike and run route on the very last day prior to the event. Most of the participants are really upset with the way things are going.

7:00 PM – Welcome Party. I just had enough pasta to fill my hungry tank and move around to look for Baskin n’ Robins for some ice cream delight.

9:00 PM – Off to sleep.


3:00 AM – Woke up to have breakfast. The usual rice and egg combo + 2 cups of black coffee to start my day.

I waited till 4:30 AM before heading on to the transition area as all my things were ready. When I arrived  there were already athletes fixing their race kits like stickers on the bike, helmet & race bib number.

Filam tri and Tri Clark Represent Cheesy

6:00 AM the organizers asked us to go to the start point. It was still dark during that time and participants are really complaining on how we can possibly navigate if we are about to start. There were at least 250+ participants for the 70.3 and around 75 in the 5150.

SWIM (43:25 CAMSUR – 42:28 SRI LANKA which is a bit long for 1.9k)

6:15 AM – We were already on the water, waiting for the signal. Water was cold but we don’t have any choice but to stay there. Mostly of the athletes positioned themselves on the rightmost part of the starting area (close to the buoy). Swim is clockwise. I decided to stay at the left most so I can do my sprint for 400 meters without anyone disturbing my path.

6:30 AM Signal went off – Mass start.

Started to do short strokes and noticed the big waves in front of us, so I managed to navigate underneath. Constantly I was checking the feet of other athletes ahead of me. After 500 meters the PRO’s are way ahead of the age groupers. I found myself on the mid pack of the age groupers. I continued doing the basic thing – Catch and pull on long strokes. When I saw some swimmers who can swim faster than me, I tried to draft with them. I stayed on that group for 700 meters then decided to relax a bit and go back to my long strokes. For 400 meters I was leading that mid pack after having a rest at the back. Then I tried to navigate myself and saw the last turn to complete the 1.9 swim. I started to pull/kick as hard as I can and noticed I was swimming alone, I left the mid pack and saw the lead pack already running out from the waters.Last 200 meters, I did a sprint before I finally reached the shore. I feel relaxed when I went out of the water. I was just doing an easy jog going to the stairs while heading to T1.

BIKE (2:51:20 – CAMSUR – 2:49:20 SRI LANKA)

Upon reaching T1, I tried to be as fast as I could get – put my race belt, grabbed my helmet then off to the roads of Sri Lanka. This was the first event where I tried to do a jump start with my cycling shoes already attached on my pedals. Thankfully I managed smoothly the start of the bike leg, staying focused to finish the 3 segments strongly. First loop, I pedaled conservatively and tried to check the road condition. On the 10km mark – I was quick to notice that they did not block the roads!

We have to stay on the left most lane while the cars occupies the other lane (they do have only 2 lanes in SL). During the race briefing, we were told that the road was flat, but its NOT! I passed several uphills on the first 15kms. As I am approaching the 25k mark, there was a slight uphill from a blind corner. I was on aero, when all of a sudden a tuk tuk( tricycle in SL) made a U-turn. At that point, there was no chance to put on the brakes. I anticipated that the tuktuk will go straight ahead, but he STOPPED!!! My right shoulder hit the corner of the tuktuk and I fell right exactly on the gutter – bang! Left shoulder first then my face…I was just lucky enough I was using my aerohelmet with attached lens. Broken front tooth, bruished chin, left chest and knee. Blood rushed instantaneously. All the while I thought an ambulance will come to rescue, but to no avail. Only a police officer asking me if I am alright. I tried to regain composure because I really wanted to finish the race. Even if I lost 20 minutes, still I am optimistic I could still make it strong. I started to pedal back as if nothing happened. From this point, I was even more conservative on the bike. When I passed by the 30k mark organizers noticed my bleeding and tried to stop me. I told them I’m fine and so I continue. 2nd loop a little bit faster than my previous loop but this time on my handle bar. It went smooth. 3rd loop – my final push before my 2nd attempt to do a 21k run.I was pushing hard this time since I feel that my legs are still fresh. At the 80k mark, I decided to use my mid ring, I just spinned the last 10k of the bike course and prepared myself mentally for the run. It was already HOT and HUMID – the good thing is, I did not feel any cramps on my quads and hamstrings, that made me confident to run faster than Camsur.

Shots taken before the accident

Faris AL Sultan

Shot taken after the accident. Notice my left knee, lower chin, upper lip and left shoulder with a broken front tooth. Broken lens on my helmet

RUN (2:48:50 CAMSUR – 1:52:43 SRI LANKA)

T2. I was trying to feel my legs on my way to T2. Everything was fine. Removed my helmet , put on my running shoes, grabbed my visor and shades then started to do an easy run. Run is 4 loops along the corniche of the Indian Ocean. No shade at all under the heat of the sun. First loop, first aid station.

I grabbed some water, drink 1 cup and then poured 3 cups on my head and my wound.I continued running until I reached the first turn around. While I was running, participants are already asking me if I’m okay. I was bleeding and my mouth was really obvious that it’s bruised. I continued running going to the 2nd turn. Before reaching the turn, there’s a slight uphill,then a sharp turn on the right then another uphill. I was never scared this time, I know I did some hill repeats during my training days 2nd loop – legs are still working fine.

I kept on running strong… No feeling of cramps. This time I tried to run a faster pace, then my calf started to cramp. I just continue running ,as soon as I reached the aid station, I applied ice on my calf, then run again. 3rd loop,some of the finishers started to cheer me, I guess they’ve seen me crashed in the bike. Some of them were calling my name as they knew me from Dubai. I got motivated, ran even faster. Just before the finish, a lady run beside me and whispering “COMMON LET”S DO A SPRINT FINISH”…let’s see what you got…I just look at her and told her go on..

1k before finish line inside the finish line chute. She cramped…I was already sprinting to the finish Smiley First event that I didn’t even bother to check my watch. I just go by the feel, no heart rate monitor or whatsoever gadgets out there… I made it 1 hour and 3 minutes faster than Camsur. Hurrrayyy! Can’t describe the feeling – I was just very happy I performed well.

Total Time : 6:29:07 CAMSUR – 5:26:30 SRI LANKA ( 12th place on my AG – I lost 20 minutes due to the crash Smiley)

Sprint Finish

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I was brought to the medical tent together with Alexander Bautista (dehydrated – Cramps whole body) and when we saw each other inside the tent,as if nothing happened to the two of us, we were just laughing. Alexander Bautista finished 3rd on his AG – 45-49 despite of the cramps , running a 21k on 1:24 and me finishing 12th on my AG 35-39 despite the crash that happened to me. This was my tune up event for the upcoming Abu Dhabi Tri long distance, I didn’t have any taper for this event. I’ll taper next week. Abu Dhabi Tri will be on Mar. 3 2012. Hoping I can perform again, the way I performed in Sri Lanka.

Thanks for viewing!


Congratulations Harold! Looking forward seeing you at the 2012 Ironman 70.3 Cebu!

View the original thread! Click here to read!

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A triathlete making a comeback and a true blue Scorpio. That sums it up quite nicely :)


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