Challenge Nha Trang (Vietnam) – 11 September 2016 For the first time ever, Challenge organized a race in Vietnam. After the success of Ironman 70.3 Vietnam in 2015 and 2016 I guess it was time for them to enter the still very immature triathlon scene of Vietnam. Even though I’m nowhere near peak fitness, I decided to give this event a go. I invited some friends from Brisbane to come over and race, and enjoy Vietnam for a bit while they were here. Race package pick up and rego were on Friday night and Saturday, with bike racking late Saturday afternoon. Given that this was an initial event, numbers were not like I have been used to completing around Australia. I believe the final number of individual finishers was 124. That doesn’t reflect the total number of competitors since there were quite a number of teams racing as well. Friday and Saturday were bloody warm, and this comes from someone who lives here… That didn’t look promising for race day. And then, while we were at the race briefing on Saturday evening, the heavens opened… It rained like there was no tomorrow. Great! Anyone who has ever raced in Melbourne knows that the swim will most likely be cancelled after very heavy rain. I was hopeful the same might happen here! Please note, the last time I swam before 11 September was during 70.3 Vietnam in May… Race morning. The rain has made it a lot cooler, and it seems there will be some cloud cover during the race. It is dry however, and the water looks really nice. Pump up my tires, helmet, check, shoes, check, running shoes, check, cap, check, race number belt, check. Ok, ready to go to the swimstart. Swim cap, check. Goggles, …. Uhm. Ok. Yes, I thought they were in my bike bag, but when I checked on Sunday morning, it turned out I didn’t have them. What to do? I contacted a few people, 2XU had a stand that was just opening up, but no goggles. Anyone with a spare pare? Not really… One of the organisers starts to ask around and says that he’ll be able to help out. Eventually the 2XU stand has set up all their stuff and lo and behold, they have a pair of goggles. I’m always one to try new stuff on race day, so here we go! The swim is a 2 loop triangle of roughly 925m, with a very short beach transition between laps. Despite the gun going off a bit later than planned, and then having to wait until the pros completed their two laps, everyone seemed to be in very good spirits. It’s a non-wetsuit swim, and there were guide-ropes with buoys connecting the turning buoys. Very beginner friendly, which is something that Vietnam needs (the swim course at Vietnam 70.3 had the same buoy-line). The water was very clear and I really liked the swim (this comes from someone who hates swimming and never trains for it). SWIM: 48:08 (65 overall) Out of the water and onto the bike. The bike course had a 9km out-stretch, through town, after 9km a loop started that was out and back, 18km per loop, and we did 4 of those. After the 4th far turnaround it was straight back to transition. The bike course itself was beautiful. Best one I’ve ridden, and I have done Cairns which I classify as really nice. There were some inclines on the loop, and the further the day progressed the harder these became! Total climbing over 90.46km was 648m according to my Garmin, so a nice bit of up and down. The 18km loop ended in a fishing village and the whole loop was closed to traffic, so pretty safe (apart from some locals who didn’t think the road closure was meant to prevent them from riding their motorbikes through the field). Fastest ride was Levi Maxwell with a 2:14, so not a particularly fast bike course. Coming back into town, traffic was a bit of an issue now and then, but overall I didn’t have any issues. As indicated, 90.46km measured is pretty much spot on! BIKE: 2:49:16 (33 overall) So far, the day had been cloudy and cool. Did I say cool? Well, for here it was a very nice and cool day. Out on the run and it wasn’t long or the first drops of rain started to come down. No real rain, just drizzle. But quite welcome! The run is a 10.5km out and back, along the beach front. There were heaps of volunteers placed along the route, there were drink stops every 2km, so that was all well arranged. I got some massive cramps around the turnaround point, which was probably due to lack of training / nutrition, but managed to stretch it out and start “running” again. This was actually the first time I’ve been running and overtaking people. Never happens! Does show that if you train under race circumstances (100% humidity, 30 degrees plus), your body will adapt. I was particularly happy with the fact that I ran faster than in Da Nang in May. 20.64km according to Garmin so a couple of minutes short. The finish chute was great, my two kids came across the line with me, best experience ever! RUN: 2:08:09 (53 overall). My total time was a fair bit slower than Da Nang (5:48:09 now versus 5:33:50 in Da Nang, way off my 4:48 PB), but that was mainly due to the bike course being a bit slower in Nha Trang. The temperature in Da Nang was higher though which cost me on the run (I’m a 90kg Clydesdale). For those of you considering a warm weather race next year, put this one on your list! http://challengevietnam.com/ for the race video and other info.