Another year another course change in Singapore but the event has once again attracted close to 2,000 age groupers to the city state for another round of the Ironman 70.3 season. With most of the big stars of long course triathlon focused on the Ironman Asia Pacific Championships it is fair to say that this year’s pro field is fairly light on. The big name stars that appeared in past years such as Alexander, Jacobs, Al Sultan and last years winner New Zealand’s Kris Gemmel are not showing up. Nor will the Singapore crowds see the likes of past winners Caroline Steffen or Jodie Swallow racing. But that won’t stop the Asian crowd from getting right into the action as triathlon continues to boom in the region.
Trizone is in Singapore checking out the course and the field. In between the odd Satay and Singapore noodle session and having 4 or 5 showers each day to cool off, we’ll bring you the latest happenings in Singapore. We’ve managed to catch up with BPM-Sport.com head coach Nicole Gallagher who is based in Singapore and has a big crew of athletes competing. We asked her what can people expect this year. “Once again we’ve seen a course change by the organisers which whilst changing things on the face of it, will not alter the fact that the Singapore race consists of a rectangular 2 lap swim in warm tidal waters, a flat and fast bike course and a flat multi lap run through the East Coast Park. It will be hot, real hot, with serious humidity. Every year I watch as athletes from non humid climates attempt Singapore’s ‘flat and fast course’ and come home with their tail between their legs as the heat took its toll on them during the later stages of the run. Watching the pace on the bike and not getting carried away by the potential high speeds along Changi Straight will reap rewards for those that stay patient and leave themselves well hydrated and with plenty in the legs for the run. To give you an idea, last year we watched several age groupers lay down a circa 2 hour 15 bike split and then proceed to take longer than that on the run. These were sub 1 hour 50 runners on a usual day out. They simply blew up big time thanks to a failure in pacing themselves.”
We asked Nicole why the course change? “TIA. This Is Asia. Change is constant here and the organisers have had to take on feedback from competitors who very rightly had concerns over last year’s course and also deal with regulators that have issues with road closures I am told. I had some of my athletes out swimming the course yesterday morning and there is a very strong current against the field on the offshore section and no help coming back on the inshore section. Looking at the tides, that is how it will be on race morning so it will be good for the strong swimmers to get away and not so good for the weaker swimmers. Regardless, unless they reverse the course direction, which is easy to do but I doubt they will, expect slower swim times.”
Why is the course along the shoreline and not out offshore and back in like we see at course like Busselton and was seen recently in Colombo? Why the two laps with a beach run in the middle? “There is plenty of space that is for sure and no reason why not. The Singapore course actually has a Busso-like Jetty but the organisers for whatever reason have elected not to take that path in any of the years. There have been drownings in some triathlons in Singapore so no doubt the local contingent are nervous about having swimmers too far offshore, hence another reason to keep it close and the two laps. Personally though I have an issue with this as I like to see the race as a 1.9km swim not 2 x 950m swims with a long beach run in the middle. But then again I’m not the race director” she finished off with a laugh.
So what are the unique aspects of the course? “This year the athletes will get a good section of the bike course on the flat fast East Coast Parkway which is essentially a freeway. Like last year they will also get to ride along Changi Straight which is a tree lined, pancake flat section of road alongside Changi airport. Expect to see some high speeds along there though athletes need to be aware of the ripple strips along the way which can be hazardous. There are a few speed bumps on course and I’m waiting to discover if they are removing them. They are not too bad but obviously better if they were not there. Finally the run, yes it will be hot and humid but it will have some nice shaded sections, will hopefully get a nice sea breeze as the day goes on and as something different this year loops around the East Coast Lagoon which contains a Water Ski park. I’m just hoping that unlike last year the race organisers ensure the run course is appropriately cordoned off as last year it was not and quite frustrating for many of the runners who had to battle walkers, runners, rollerblades, bikes, strollers, kids……”
Finally, where is a great place for some local food? “Oh that is tough as Singapore has so many great options. Head into town for Satays at the Lau Pa Sat Hawker centre and for great Laksa I’d head to Katong which is a great local food hangout and also near race central. Of course if you want a post race treat that is more like home in Australia, I’d go to Pizza Capers in Katong. Singapore offers plenty of surprises so enjoy getting out and about.”