Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why I Love Ironman Langkawi

For three years now, I've been making a trip, a pilgrimage so to speak, to the mystical island of Langkawi at the end of February for what is billed as the toughest show on Earth.

The Ironman Langkawi.

The reason I make this trip every year is not for the race. Yes, the race is an integral part of the trip but it's not the most important.

The most important part of the trip is the trip itself.

Going to Langkawi, to me, is akin to going on a company trip. Except the company is called triathlon.

From the moment you arrive in Langkawi, you meet up with like-minded people. When you land, when you check-in to your hotel, when you register and pick up your race kit, when you attend the briefing, when you check your bike in, when you check-in for the swim, you are reacquainted with your mates from the local triathlon scene.

It's like a big party. A party that goes on for a week.

And it's not just participants. It's also the supporters. The first time I went, we had a handful of friends who were there to support us. The numbers grew the second year and this year, with the formation of the LeTuang group, the numbers grew even more.

The atmosphere is always festive. Local eateries, who have gotten to know us over the years, are always looking forward to our arrival. They know we can really eat. Yusran has taken the extra effort to do some major PR with the owners of these establishments to ensure the we enjoy only the best culinary delights in Langkawi. One restaurant even makes us autograph the Ironman poster every year which he will then display proudly in his restaurant!

Of course there's the small matter of the race. But like I told Stupe, we're going for a holiday but, since we're there, we might as well swim 3.8km, bike 180km and run 42km!

Speaking of the race, mine was not as heroic and inspirational as Senn's or Stupe's. Nor was it as dramatic as Ishsal's or Barath's or Bean's.

The day started slow. The swim was slow, not because I was struggling, in fact I thought I had a good swim, but I was just slow.

My bike leg was painful. For the first 50km, I couldn't hold any liquids down. I basically redecorated the Langkawi landscape with my puke! I had puke on my arms, my legs and down my chest. At 35k, I stopped by where Mac was parked to puke my guts out.

At 50k, I had to stop to pee. After that, I started feeling a bit better but still didn't have the legs. I was secretly wishing for a flat, or a broken chain, or a snapped cable so I could pull out.

But I had to beat Bukit Hantu, my nemesis from two years ago. I was not going to quit until I had conquered it all three times. Then something happened after the third time I climbed it, my legs suddenly realised they were in a race! After that, I was flying.

After going all out in the last 40k, I thought I'd be walking the marathon. And the first 1k was difficult. 3k in I caught up with Senn who'd been racing with a one-inch gash in her right foot, and did a run/walk with her. At 8k, she told me to go ahead. She would continue to set her personal best by 48 minutes! That is an Ironman!

Because of the run/walk at the start of the marathon, I was able to save my legs for the end. And that saved me a good 13 minutes from last year's marathon.

In the end, I crossed the line 8 minutes faster than last year. It was a tough race, and one I thought I didn't deserve to finish, what more set a personal best, but I'll take it anyway.

In truth, all that didn't really matter. What really mattered was the spirit of camaraderie and friendship that prevailed throughout the race week. It was this spirit that kept me going, even though my race was not as inspiring as the others. And it is for this reason, that I'll be back in Langkawi next year. And while I'm there, I may as well swim 3.8km, bike 180km and run 42km.


yipwt said...

yo arif...good job on another completion...err..btw tourist don't actually swim 3.8km, cycle 180 then run a marathon for fun :)

Abu Soffian said...

Bro...dari mula aku kenal ko sampai sekarang...aku salute ko...ko memang hebat. Cayalah Arif

sofiantriathlete said...

well done Ariff

Zailan said...


kev said...

Well done, good race, good write-up! Maybe I'll see you again in Langkawi next year!

The Editor said...

Well Done arif, u inspire many of us...I also wud like to thank you properly for your effort in looking after me in Langkawi

tryathlete said...

Yip: Thanks. The way I was racing, I was a tourist! hahaha

Abu: you've always been the one I target but can never catch. I salute you on such a brilliant finish.

Sofian: thanks, and congratulations on your best ever finish in Langkawi!

Zailan: Thanks! When you going to join us? I'm the only Victorian left...

Kev: Thanks. Hopefully I will see you and not be waaaaay behind you ;p

Mac: Thank me for looking after you? No mate, it's the other way around: I should be thanking you for looking after me. Thank you.

Upiq said...


it's simply heroic...

many would have quit but not you..

You exemplify the very true spirit of an Ironman...

Well done, bro...

tryathlete said...

Upiq, thank you for your kind words but I think the truly heroic one, the one who really exemplifies the spirit of Ironman is Senn, who ran the entire race with a one-inch gash on her foot.

And next year, your turn. Set?

dochisyam said...

Bro, see you next year again....and again....Even if we don't race there is always the lovely place at chenang where we could hang out.There is a pic of you in my blog.

Azmar said...

Bro, congrats for making it to finish line. U did inspire me when u said "I have a fren wt broken collarbone & he still manage to clock sub 14" & i was in doubtfull abt IM at tht time. Now u can say tht u have 2 frens tht did just tht.... just dont mention my name coz I'm no hero. I just wanna prove to myself tht I'm wrong

tryathlete said...

doc, was looking forward to celebrating with you at Sunba, but you went back to KL already. Never mind, I've signed up for next year, so we can do it then.

Azmar, you are a hero. To come back from that horrific crash and finish the way you did is truly heroic.

Wandernut said...

You and Senn are an incredible couple! :)

heckler said...

nice. too bad no more IMMY for now.