70.3 Colombo 2019
Background: I'd chosen Da Nang in Vietnam for my last two 70.3 races, so looked around for a new race this year and once again chose somewhere I'd never been before so I could combine both racing and travel. Colombo was an obvious choice then, especially as both my kids went there the previous year with their school - I couldn't let them get too far ahead in the 'travel-the-world' stakes!
As usual, this race formed part of my 24-week training block - this time for Challenge Roth in July. It was a little early in the block - around week 6 - so I was fit but surely a little under-cooked.
Travel: It was a little longer from HK than I had previously thought - a 5 hour Thursday evening flight, but with the time difference, I got there around 11pm and picked up a taxi from the airport for the 60-minute drive to the Shangri-La. Logistically, this was great for me as this was also the race venue - for check-in, and just over the road from the Swim and Transition on Galle Face Green. As you'd expect, the room was great and I got stuck into setting up my bike before hitting the sack.
Colombo: I was up early to finish off my bike and get a test ride in. Unfortunately I was still too late as the 9am traffic was crazy and I aborted the ride after just 10-minutes. Fortunately, the bike felt good and I was happy to trust it for race day. For the rest of the day, I took a stroll along the Green which came to life in the evening with hawker stalls in full flow and families having fun. I had a couple of beers with an old friend in the evening, then was up early again the following morning for a test swim, which went well. I had been working hard on my swim, so was hoping to finally break 40-mins for the 1.9km. I took it easy for the rest of the day and tried to get an early night before the race.
The Race: I didn't sleep too well as usual, but at least the walk to Transition was short. It wasn't a full race - only around 600 people racing - so transition was fairly easy to manoeuvre as we all finished our last-minute preparations.
Swim: I was expecting a good swim, but came out of the water in 46-mins - another slow one! However, I did hear that there was a pretty stiff side current and most peoples swim times were slow that day. I'll take that. Water was fine and with the rolling start and fewer racers, I didn't run into any trouble.
Bike: I was ready for a fast time on this flat course and indeed put in my best ever bike split with a 2'47. Pretty happy with that, as I'd been focusing on the bike early on in my training block. Course was okay - a bit boring in stages, but also through some of the more scenic parts of Colombo.
Run: As usual, I either over-cooked the bike or under-cooked the run training as my run soon turned into the usual suffer-fest. I've only run one 70.3 run well one time, and that was when the temperature dropped a little with some nice cloud cover. Colombo from 10:30am to 12:30pm was a furnace and while I managed a decent 5km to start off with, the rest was a run/walk shuffle. The course was pretty dull too - into the docks at the start but a little more interesting when we came back to Galle Face Green. I finished with a 2'26 - a pretty poor effort. Considering I can now manage a 10km IM run, I should be able to do better with my 70.3 runs. Next time.
Post-race thoughts: Despite the poor run, I finished with a reasonable time - my second fastest 70.3 - and a great experience overall. It's great to see these new cities while racing, but I must return to see it properly one day.
The experience of this race paled into insignificance six-weeks later when the Shangri-La and other venues in Colombo were bombed on Easter Sunday. Having eaten in the main restaurant and met some of the staff, I can only imagine the horror that ripped through there on a busy Sunday morning. It doesn't matter now of course, but as the race will not take place in 2020, I'm glad I got the chance to race there.