For a country that has undergone over 20 years of civil war until recently, it was time to introduce the people of Sri Lanka to triathlon. To expect it would be all smooth sailing is a far reach but as close to 500 triathletes descend upon Colombo, Sri Lanka for the first ever Sri Lanka 70.3 and 5150 races, Trizone is here to check out all the action and drama that a first time race in a 3rd world country will provide.
Let’s be honest, there has been a fair bit of chatter about WTC having another Asian race that could follow the path of Ironman China and 70.3 in 2011. A last minute cancellation by the race organisers seemed to be the way Asia’s first 70.3 for 2012 was expected to go. The recent WTC acquisition of USM Events lead to an immediate urgent trip by the USM team to Colombo to “get things sorted”. Smart move by the Tampa office. To their credit, what looked like a total shambles is turning into an environment that athletes Trizone have spoken to here in Colombo are more and more pleased with as the hours tick by. Last minute changes to the race course to enhance safety and improve the experience of the athletes have been immediately made and the air of panic has changed to a relaxed, in control feeling. Will it be a perfect event….hell no! Will it be a unique experience for those involved, you better believe it.
With 24 hours to go Trizone went out for a spin on the bike with Aussie Pro Josh Rix and several Age Group athletes. In between the Tuk Tuks and odd bus racing by we had a bit of a chat with our fellow riders. For Singapore based Australian Yolanda Mace this event is about an experience. “My husband and I are working and living in Asia and one of the highlights is the chance to experience this sort of event. Sure it isn’t going to be a Noosa triathlon or Bussleton 70.3 in terms of how the race is staged but how cool is it to be out here spinning along with the locals cheering you as they go past in their three wheeled tuk tuks and then get back to the hotel with an old school colonial feel to it!”
For one of the pre race favourites, Rix told us “The race experience is not just about the race day itself but the lead in and days here in Colombo. This will be very memorable for a number of reasons, but where else can you train and race alongside colonial buildings, a very cool sea front and all of these tuk tuks. How amazing was that snake charmer!” The snake charmer Rix spoke of greeted him at the front of race hotel, the colonial, sea facing TAJ Samudra. Two Cobra’s weaving in the air with the odd strike at their snake charming friend who we watched invite Josh to join him. A tentative Josh kept his new Boardman Air TT 9.8 race bike and between him and his new found hissing friends. We’ll see if they motivate him to go quicker tomorrow.
As for the conditions here in Colombo…..it’s hot! Temperatures in the high 20’s and low 30’s with the occasional puff of warm tropical breeze. It could get ugly for some as they take on the heat come race day. For pro’s like Faris Al Sultan who has just finished a training block in the heat of Abu Dhabi it won’t be an issue. For those coming down from the European winter……good luck! More to come soon from Trizone.com.au