The Inaugural Aviva Ironman 70.3 Singapore: a milestone for Asian Triathlon
“Who says I can’t?” This was the catchphrase of the TV ad which was aired repeatedly over a couple months in various cable networks internationally. It showcased a handful of ordinary people who had a common goal: to test their mettle in the newest Half Ironman distance race in Asia.
Last September, approximately 1,250 triathletes from all over the world congregated in Singapore, passing through the city’s popular landmarks such as East Coast Park, Marina Promenade, and the Esplanade. With the help of Senator Pia Cayetano and our Pinay In Action project, I was lucky enough to be one of the competitors.
I was in pretty good company—the Philippine contingent was, in fact, a perfect example of what the race organizers had intended to attract: triathletes from all walks of life who set out to challenge themselves. Our representatives included the likes of business tycoon Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Senator Pia Cayetano, David Charlton of David’s Salon, individuals from Cagayan de Oro, Davao, some OFWs based in Singapore and neighboring Malaysia, and members of various triathlon clubs like Polo Tri, Fitness First, Team David’s Salon and Xycos, to name a few.
The Aviva Ironman 70.3 Singapore promised to be a truly unique destination race. In the words of organizer Adrian Mok, “There are no other city Ironmans in the world – this is the only one. Others might start in the city but heads out of the city. This is more spectator-friendly as they are able to watch the action. We are especially proud of the cycling route as previously cycling on the highway was not allowed.”
Everybody was excited about the much hyped-up race but the question hung in the air whether the organizers could pull this off the first time around. Having raced in Singapore repeatedly over the past couple of years, I was pretty confident they would. But I still decided that I would reserve judgment until after the race was over.
The 70.3 posed a challenging 1.9km swim leg, with the rough waters creating a sea of different colored swim caps constantly bobbing up and down the length of the East Coast. There were a significant number of worried expressions from the participants as they gazed into the chop, but thankfully the first portion of the triathlon, which consisted of only one big rectangular loop, went by without any mishaps. The run from the beach to the transition was quite a way, but it was flat and the ground was carpeted, so this wasn’t really a problem.
The designated bike course was not demanding physically, but technically, there were a lot of narrow lanes and sharp corners, so this required our total concentration. The fact that the race was very well-attended did not help as well, and even though drafting (riding very closely with other cyclists) was not allowed, it was impossible to avoid it in some segments and from where I was I could see that a lot of the triathletes took full advantage of this! We passed a lot of scenic spots though, and I particularly enjoyed it every time we were atop Benjamin Sheares Bridge. After completing five laps and registering 90km on my bike computer, I wheeled my bike into T2, which was at the Champs Arena. The volunteers were quite helpful, as they helped me park my bike and handed me my run bag immediately.
The 21km run was flat all the way, and we ran along the tree-lined paths with relative comfort. Aid stations were conveniently located 2km apart so the racers didn’t want for sports gels or water. At last, the bright yellow finish arch beckoned us on the floating platform and we crossed it, weary but truly satisfied. Who says we can’t?” No one. No one at all.