Last year the New York Times named Sri Lanka the #1 place in the world to visit. It’s no secret; Sri Lanka is a jewel of South Asia waiting to be discovered.
Romantic island hideaways, vibrant colour, rich culture and a food lover’s paradise, Sri Lanka has it all. But if that isn’t enough to pique your interest, there is now another reason to put Sri Lanka on your destination hit list as the countdown is now on for the inaugural 70.3 Ironman Sri Lanka and 5150.
The countdown to the inaugural February 19th 2012 race marks an historic occasion, as the Ironman brand will be breaking new ground with the first 70.3 event in South Asia and the first 5150 in South East Asia.
Sri Lanka will be the first race on the 70.3 calendar for Asia. It’s the perfect opportunity for athletes to awaken from their winter slumber and dip their toes into some warm waters and humid conditions to test the body.
2005 World Ironman Champion, Faris Al-Sultan, is one Pro athlete who will be taking advantage of an early season test. Al-Sultan will be participating in the 5150, a name creatively coined from the Olympic distances of a 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run.
“I think it is time for Sri Lanka to develop itself as a prime holiday destination and as ambassadors for triathlon, my teammates and I are proud to support a race that brings our tough but wonderful sport to this beautiful island.” – Faris Al-Sultan.
To date, joining the former world champion in the 5150 is Paul Ambrose (AUS), Luke Gillmer (AUS), Freddy Lampret (RSA), Jenny Fletcher (USA) and Rachael Paxton (AUS).
There are a host of Aussie athletes heading to the island and one pro who loves to race in Asia is Belinda Granger. Granger will be lining up for the 70.3. Currently alongside the multi Ironman champion and 2011 Philippines 70.3 Champion is Kristin MÃ¶ller and Dana Wagner of Germany. For the men; Ironman 70.3 Bussleton champion, Tim Berkel (AUS), Ironman 70.3 Canberra Champion, Tim Reed (AUS), Phuket based Swede Fredrik Croneborg, Justin Granger (AUS) and Patrick Evoe (USA) are all en route to paradise
Belinda Granger has been racing around Asia for many years and had this to say about her first biggie on the 2012 calendar: “I am incredibly excited about racing the inaugural Sri Lanka 70.3. What an incredible place for a race. I knew little about the country but since the announcement I have done quite a bit of research and now I am even more eager to visit what looks to be an amazingly beautiful place.
This is a great opportunity to add yet another stunning South Asian country to my long list makes me very happy. What a great way to kick start the 2012 season.”
Faris Al-SultanSteeped in Colonial Architecture, the city of Colombo will become a staging area for taking athletes back in time and delivering the romance of yesteryear. It will be a dynamic merriment of a modern day hi tech sport amidst an old era.
And be prepared to be wowed by the hotels; plenty to choose from all within walking distance or a short tut-tut ride of each other. The Taj Samudra Hotel and Galle face hotel will literally sweep you off your feet; decadence aptly describes the experience awaiting you.
So what challenges lie in wait for athletes racing in Sri Lanka?
If you have been to the island before, you will be familiar with the organised chaos of traffic. Did I say organised? Tut-tuts are the vehicle of choice and they manage to zip in and out everywhere. Entertaining to watch, hair-raising to try, this is Sri Lanka. And this is also why for one day on February 19th the city roads will be closed.
Imagine that? Complete closure to traffic for an ironman race; that’s like music to a triathletes ear.
With no traffic and a flat course, Sri Lanka is designed for the uber fast biker kitted with disk wheel and lovers of a pancake flat run course. Before you get carried away with breaking a world record though, remember it’s in the tropics; you will have to contend with a consistent 81 °F air temperature, 82 °F sea temperature (no wet suits) and for a little fun, the humidity level in February hovers around 80%.
It’s set to be a challenging race, something to awaken you from your winter slumber and get the muscles working and mind focusing on the year ahead. If you are a lover of heat racing this is a course for you. If you do not fair well in the heat, then perhaps it is time to challenge yourself and master the art of hot weather racing.