Koh Samui Triathlon bike course debacle – There are no winners


We saw what happened to pros who did not ride the full bike course at Shepparton 70.3 in 2011. The lead guys turned early following the pace car (which had turned early prior to a  U-Turn to stay out of the riders way) rather than continue to the U-Turn as was supposed to happen. They were handed 5min penalties but the short cut was only hundreds of meters.

There were different circumstances in Koh Samui including ‘police in a foreign country’ telling ‘you’ what to do. This in itself could cause those not given to standing their ground no matter what to hesitate and err on the cautious side.

The ensuing circumstances meant that in this race there were no winners. Ben Allen and Courtney Atkinson’s first and second will be talked about and the pros that did ride the correct course have missed out on potentially earning their wages.

For Allen and Atkinson this by no means should make anyone think anything less of their character as you would have had to be there at the time to understand what they were up against.

To the race…

After the swim at Koh Samui Ben Allen and Courtney Atkinson got an early break on the bike. Paul Ambrose, David Dellow, Dan Halkworth & Todd Skipworth for the remainder of the race made up the chasing lead group.

Koh-Samui-Long-Course-Triathlon-Bike-Course-2013At the back of the bike and on the opposite side on the island there is a loop that is nearly 15km (see image) that is comprised of a very large and sharp hill and tight switch back turns. (It is not a fast loop with the addition of 40deg and 100% humidity).

Reports from spectators say that the race leaders Allen and Atkinson missed this loop giving them a significant lead on the bike. In addition to Allen and Atkinson, all other male pros (excluding Ambrose, Dellow, Halkworth & Skipworth), female pros and all age groupers were also directed by local police to miss this section.

The course is apparently simple to navigate and is clearly marked the entire way unless you have police telling you not to go a particular way. If you rode the first loop you would see that the back end loop is clearly marked with km markers for the 2nd loop of the bike.

What happened to the aforementioned chase group was the police tried to stop them and turn them around to say they were going the wrong way. The police were wrong and were told so by the four pros who continued on the correct course which included the addition back end loop (clearly marked).

The leaders were also told not to go this way by the police and adhered to this advice despite protesting that they had to ride this way.

What happened with all the following pros was that supposedly the police coned off the turn and told all other athletes to ride back to transition which completely changed the entire race. Not only did this give them a sizeable lead on the pros who rode the correct course of 20-30min (approx) but they had fresher legs from not riding the extra distance and a fresher body not riding in the insane heat.

The organisers gave most that had cut the bike course a 15min stand down penalty on the back end of the run. Next to an aid station which additionally gave them nice fresh legs too finish off their race.

The 15min stand down penalty was seemingly light given there was a tough 15km+ bike section missed.

No doubt the fallout from this debacle will continue for a while.

Paul Ambrose, David Dellow, Dan Halkworth & Todd Skipworth were the pros that completed the full race and will be unhappy (understatement) about the outcome and will feel that some of them should have been rewarded with podiums and pay cheques.


What do you think should happen in these circumstances?

Leave your comments below…


Place Athlete Name Category Nation PlaceCat SwimTime BikeTime RunTime FinishTime
1 Courtney Atkinson M S3 AUS 1 0:51:49 2:49:44 2:16:33 6:00:18
2 Ben Allen M S2 AUS 1 0:51:49 2:49:41 2:21:31 6:05:22
3 Marcel Zamora Perez M S4 ESP 1 0:57:51 2:58:03 2:15:18 6:13:58
4 Melissa Hauschildt F S3 AUS 1 1:00:10 3:04:49 2:07:06 6:14:49
5 Daniel Halksworth M S2 USA 2 0:53:46 3:16:51 2:02:10 6:15:42
6 Todd Skipworth M S2 AUS 3 0:53:44 3:16:46 2:02:31 6:15:58
7 Jimmy Johnsen M S4 DEN 2 0:57:59 2:57:49 2:18:33 6:17:25
8 David Dellow M S3 AUS 2 0:51:53 3:18:54 2:05:43 6:19:32
9 Liz Blatchford F S3 AUS 2 0:58:37 3:11:06 2:07:53 6:20:36
10 Fredrik Croneborg M S3 SWD 3 0:58:04 3:05:40 2:14:34 6:21:29
11 Nikolay Yaroshenko M S2 RUS 4 0:51:50 3:04:00 2:26:14 6:24:45
12 Courtney Ogden M V1 AUS 1 0:56:17 3:08:06 2:18:00 6:25:34
13 Paul Ambrose M S2 AUS 5 0:53:49 3:16:44 2:13:50 6:27:02
14 Massimo Cigana M S4 ITA 3 1:04:27 2:59:02 2:22:52 6:29:07
15 Caroline Steffen F S4 SUI 1 1:00:13 3:09:36 2:19:38 6:32:18
16 Belinda Granger F V1 AUS 1 1:00:11 3:09:33 2:24:57 6:37:27
17 Alexandra Louison F S3 FRA 3 1:12:11 3:17:56 2:12:00 6:45:08
18 Justin Granger M V1 AUS 2 1:04:25 3:11:50 2:31:34 6:50:45
19 Erika Csomor F V1 HUN 2 1:06:41 3:16:16 2:25:15 6:51:18
20 Harry Sikkema M V1 NET 3 1:07:09 3:11:21 2:29:46 6:52:11
21 Carrie Lester F S3 AUS 4 1:00:51 3:21:07 2:31:49 6:56:50
22 Isabelle Ferrer F S4 FRA 2 1:06:39 3:23:48 2:33:48 7:06:57
23 Martin Lieberz M S4 HKG 4 1:08:54 3:15:46 2:52:52 7:22:25
24 Glenn Macnamara M V1 NZL 4 1:23:20 3:54:16 2:53:37 8:16:02
25 Suwan Niphon M V2 THA 1 1:30:29 3:56:06 2:53:16 8:22:30
26 Matthias Berger M S4 AUT 5 1:22:27 3:44:34 3:12:26 8:28:16
27 Visarut Visanuvimol M V3 THA 1 1:25:56 4:05:39 3:20:55 8:56:59
28 Ben Steele M S4 AUS 6 1:23:31 4:09:45 3:31:42 9:17:22
29 Laurent Gas M V2 FRA 2 1:40:34 4:08:43 3:27:19 9:24:22
30 Denis Herpe M V3 FRA 2 1:47:37 4:10:03 3:39:12 9:45:33
31 Ingolf Cohrs M V2 GER 3 1:12:45 4:01:03 4:34:16 9:55:14
32 Nampetch Porntharukcharoen F S4 THA 3 1:35:44 5:02:12 3:32:18 10:22:31
33 Chiew Sheng Liew M S3 SIN 4 1:50:13 4:31:25 3:54:07 10:23:12
34 Tassawan Sirivongs F S4 THA 4 1:17:28 4:57:22 4:09:22 10:32:29
35 Witthaya Maneejakr M V3 THA 3 1:26:21 4:35:00 4:28:25 10:35:49
36 Alexander Gatilov M S2 RUS 6 1:35:17 5:07:17 4:10:19 11:02:11
37 Thitinanthaphan Surat M V5 THA 1 2:05:40 4:29:16 4:27:36 11:12:13
DNF Bryan Rhodes M V1 NZL 0 0:53:50 3:03:18
DNF Christophe Perret M V1 SUI 0 1:22:06 3:54:55
DNF Michelle Gailey F S3 AUS 0 1:00:50
DNF Luca Ferrari M V2 SUI 0 1:22:09 4:30:44
DNF Michael Murphy M S1 AUS 0 0:51:55
DNF Andy Lordianto M S2 IND 0 1:16:38
DNF Anna-Lee Hazell F S2 AUS 0 1:07:18


Karl Hayes

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.

  • Courtney Atkinson

    To tri zone. Interesting take on what happened with obviously parts of info from particlar parties. There are always two sides to a story and it seems most noise is coming from the four giys who did the loop on 2nd lap.

    The real story from Koh Samui triathlon:
    – all competitors completed the loop in question on first lap so we knew the course!
    – ONLY four men rode the loop on second lap. NO female competed this loop (but because their race was Not effected little has been said about this?)
    – myself and Ben Allen were 7;40 mins ahead of 3rd at 65k and 9mins ahead at 80k which we rode in 1:58 minutes even before the loop section discussed. So at that speed we are talking the missed section may have been 15mins – 20mins. NOT 15k as reported and no significnt hill??? I rode touch under 112k on my gps computer.

    Anyhow this is how it played out. Myself and Ben rode into this section as we did on first lap. Around 2 mins in both police and Marshall’s came in front of us in a blockade fashion on road. We did make note that we were going right way but were turned by Thai police.

    At this stage In my head I was angry we had lost time if we had gone wrong mistaking the course and my first thought as a racer was even if we continue if I am wrong the rest of the field will pass and we will lose out. We lost I think around 4 mins extra to everyone that didn’t ride in the loop ( save the four other guys) but were so far ahead this seems to not have been noted?

    What would you do?
    Not complete the course DQ
    Not obey bike mashall DQ
    Not obey Thai police? Not sure but can’t be good

    I feel for the four guys who rode the loop as we all thought we would have to…sometimes that is the advantage of being in the lead having race security with you. I know this is one reason i choose to push hard on bike and everyone has that same opportunity if they could get there

    What is the race to do? DQ all girls and have 4 guys officially finish who regardless would not have finished 1-4th.

    Not ideal. This is a race that brings great prizemoney to the region and a beautiful location and tough race. By critizing it we are all biting the hand that feeds us

    Like I said there are always two sides to a story would be great of you could provide all aspects of information

    I am proud of the race I put together in my first attempt at this distance and can’t control the uncontrollable.

    Courtney Atkinson

  • Dane

    How the hell can you DQ anyone for obeying orders form police officers! Seems a little different situation from what happened in shepperton! Courtney and Ben were ordered to turn for christs sake!
    Seems to me that it’s more sour grapes that Olympic distance guy gave the ” iron men” guys a complete flogging at his first attempt at the distance.

  • Trizone

    Normally we are 100% against anonymous comments as they don’t breed constructive conversations. Happy for you to have your say in this instance as we know where you are and who you work for 🙂 We went straight to some of the athletes involved. Both sides were asked. It is a great destination race and like any races in similar locations there are always challenges. It is the nature of the beast. We were just talking to a guy who was in 2nd place in a race on one of the regions island about 5-6 years ago. A wedding blocked the road and he had to stop and watch the first place guy ride away.

    The official race report is still to come. At least we all had something to talk about today. A lot of people wanted to know what went on and we provided the platform for the information to be published.

  • Justin

    ^ regarding above comment. Did you fail to even read CA comment? They knew the course, attempted to ride it and were made to turn around. What more do you actually want? It’s commendable but also somewhat irresponsible that the other four athletes completed the official course but if they had of followed the police direction, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. What if there was a safety issue ahead? The compete whole rest of the field seemed to manage following instruction. Right or wrong.

  • Robin

    You all have my sympathies. I am afraid to say that in Thailand the police are considered to be something of a national joke by us white chaps. And in particular, the police on Samui see themselves as somewhere mid-way between deities and Action Men, wearing their skin-tight catsuits and black jack boots with enormous pride.

    The fact of the matter is that, for anyone to be a policeman, there is no interview or selection process on the grounds of integrity, ability or merit. Such is the social status of a policeman that the would-be candidate needs only one attribute. Money. If you can afford it – if your parents/family can pay the huge application ” fee” – you too can be in the police force.

    Needless to say, such qualities as intelligence, the ability to understand the English language or organisation and planning skills are very thin on the ground. As also is the tolerance for annoying “farangs” (aliens; foreigners; outsiders) who come here and try to tell the upstanding local citizenry what to do and how to do it.

    So, it would seem that the Samui police stepped in to assert themselves in their official capacity. All in a day’s work. Anyway all these farangs will be gone tomorrow and all will be forgotten and the boys in skin-tight brown can get back to their usual function of imposing spot-fines for traffic violations. This is one of the very few things that they are capable of doing effectively. Any activity more complex and – well – you have experienced the results first hand.

    A Samui resident.