The IRONMAN Malaysia and IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi is looming just over a week away ahead of race day on November 5, with over 1,500 participants set to descend in Malaysia’s historical picturesque Langkawi island as the event makes a comeback after a two-year hiatus.
While there will be many seasoned triathletes gracing this edition, both the IRONMAN races would also see first-time participants eager to have their first taste of this multisport event.
To help understand what it takes to compete in an IRONMAN, 2016 IRONMAN Asia ambassador, multiple IRONMAN finisher and Triathlon Coach, Rupert Chen, shares his first IRONMAN experience, as well as some important tips for newcomers.
1) Tell us about yourself. What inspired you to get into IRONMAN?
Before IRONMAN, I was working in the corporate world as an engineer. I eventually got tired of it and left. After that, I started venturing into longer distance triathlons. I did my first IRONMAN race back in 2010, probably as an escapism from corporate life (laughs). I have done a total of seven full IRONMAN since then, and four of it was in Langkawi.
2) What are the early challenges that a new IRONMAN participant would most likely face?
When I first started, there wasn’t much guidance available yet. Even YouTube was relatively new at that time, so there wasn’t much content for the athletes. But now, there is plenty of content online, besides more coaching to facilitate triathlons in Klang Valley. It’s easier for people to get community training together. This is why I would recommend beginners find a coaching group or a club to train together.
3) What does an IRONMAN participant require before competing for the first time?
The essentials you will need for an IRONMAN race are firstly a bicycle, along with equipment such as a helmet. For running it’s easy, as you only need shoes. If you were to join a triathlon, you will need a triathlon suit. If you wear a triathlon suit, you can just use that suit throughout swim, bike, and run. For swimming, you need goggles and a swim cap. Of course, there are other things you can add on like a visor, sunglasses, socks, and sunblock.
It is also essential to orientate yourself with the routes as that will help you strategise your game plan – when to attack and to take it easy. Arriving a few days earlier is key. If you have the chance to join simulation events a few weeks or months prior, that would be advantageous too in your planning.
4) Tell us about your first IRONMAN experience?
I went in with a lack of experience and was under-prepared. I remembered having to arrive the day before by ferry. I was inexperienced and did not know about the check-ins for the transitions. I only arrived there after my meeting at 4 or 5pm. So, I barely had time to check in, but managed to settle everything. By that time, I was so stressed out at that I barely had any sleep. The good thing was that I knew in order to finish this race, the pacing was very important. I learned to hold back and pace myself. I finished the race after over 15 hours!
5) How did you prepare for your first IRONMAN?
At first, I wasn’t sure how much running or biking I should do. So, it was just trial and error for me at that time! I just practiced whenever I could. As I was working full-time back then, the time to train was limited, so I would wake up at early as 3am in the morning to train, and after work, I would continue training as well. I wasn’t getting enough sleep and I got pneumonia after that. My preparation and fitness were terrible, but I was just happy to finish the race.
6) Give us the rundown of your first IRONMAN experience? (From start till finish)
I don’t think I even slept the night before. The race started in Kuah, Langkawi at that time. I started out by swimming, and I couldn’t even swim freestyle completely and had to mix it up with breaststroke. I remember the terrain on the old course was hilly. I finished my bike session around late evening, and by the time I was done with my run, it was almost 11pm.
7) Key lessons from your first IRONMAN?
Preparation is key, and you need some long-term planning. You cannot start preparing two or three months before, it takes at least half a year of preparation and a lot of consistency in training. You don’t need bombastic training. The most important is having consistency and a lot of easy-to-moderate sessions. You just keep stacking them up and you will build a significant amount of fitness. Of course, with a coach, you can cut out your trial and error.
8) What message would you give to first-time IRONMAN participants?
Proper training is pivotal for a race. Another is to pace yourself well. If you overuse your energy for the first part of the race, you will be left with nothing after that. Nutrition is also crucial for a full IRONMAN. Learning to take in the right amount for nutrition is important, meaning you must eat enough without overeating. And the most important thing is to remember to go out there and have fun!
About 2022 IRONMAN Malaysia & IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi
Date: 5 November 2022
Venue: Langkawi, Malaysia
About Langkawi :
Located within a cluster of tropical islands that attract visitors the world over, the race will take athletes on a truly Malaysian cultural journey through tropical, hilly, and demanding terrain passing traditional kampungs (villages), mangrove clusters, and rainforest vistas.
IRONMAN Malaysia has been accorded with :
- ATHLETE CHOICE AWARDS – IRONMAN
- Overall Swim Experience (2018)
- Best Post-race Celebration (2018, 2017, 2016)
- Will Attend Next Year (2018, 2017, 2016)
- 2018 Best Triathlon Races in Asia Awards by AsiaTri.com
The Event Experience :
IRONMAN Malaysia (Full Distance) – Swim 3.8km, Bike 180km, Run 42.2km
The ocean swim starts from the picturesque white sandy beach of Pantai Kok with a two-loop triangle out and back course.
The two-loop bike course heads out of Pantai Kok towards Jalan Teluk Yu on a clockwise loop from the Northwest point of the island around the rolling hills of Datai towards the southeastern part of the island. Passing through several local villages ‘Kampungs’, athletes will get a true taste of the colourful sights and sounds and local communities of the island.
The aid stations along the bike course are all supported by the local communities in Langkawi. Athletes will enjoy the local wildlife and winding terrain, passing The Langkawi Falls en route to the Datai turnaround. At the end of the 2nd loop, athletes will continue along the coastline of Pantai Kok heading towards Transition (T2).
The run course will showcase the best Malaysia has to offer as athletes pass through the scenic oceanfront of Cenang Beach. Athletes will run along the side of the Langkawi International Airport runway.
The tropical flat run course brings athletes into the beachfront of Pelangi Beach Resort and Spa for their 2 lap run.
IRONMAN World Championship Qualifying Race – There are 55 qualifying slots to the 2023 VinFast IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
IRONMAN 70.3 Langkawi (Half Distance) – Swim 1.9km, Bike 90km, Run 21.1km
The ocean swim starts from the picturesque white sandy beach of Pantai Kok with a triangle out and back course.
The one-loop bike course heads out of Pantai Kok towards Jalan Teluk Yu on a clockwise loop from the Northwest point of the island around the rolling hills of Datai towards the southeastern part of the island. Passing through several local villages ‘Kampungs’, athletes will get a true taste of the colourful sights and sounds and local communities of the island.
The aid stations along the bike course are all supported by the local communities in Langkawi. Athletes will enjoy the local wildlife and winding terrain, passing The Langkawi Falls en route to the Datai turnaround.
The run course will showcase the best Malaysia has to offer as athletes pass through the scenic oceanfront of Cenang Beach. Athletes will run along the side of the Langkawi International Airport runway. The tropical flat run course brings athletes to the beach front of Pelangi Beach Resort and Spa to finish.
IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship Qualifying Race – There are 30 qualifying slots for the 2023 VinFast IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship in Lahti, Finland.