70.3 Vietnam 2017 & 2018
Background: Not a race report per se, but (I hope), an informative post about this race in Da Nang, Vietnam. After my flirtations with Phuket and Cebu, I was looking for a new race and given its proximity to Hong Kong, Da Nang fit the bill. Both my races here were part of full Ironman training blocks - I was in pretty good shape, but ultimately a little under-cooked. I'd also raced in Da Nang early on in my triathlon years - an Olympic-distance race in 2011.
Travel: It's a 2-hour direct flight into Da Nang from Hong Kong and pretty easy to pick up a cab to one of many resorts along the beach strip just south of the city. I didn't actually see the city itself on either trip and I'm not sure there is really much there. Hoi An is the place to visit if any sight-seeing can be squeezed in - although I had visited there in 2011, so didn't need to go back on either of these trips. The race venue was the Hyatt and so long as you're staying in the next one or two hotels, it's pretty easy logistics-wise. On the first trip I was in the Vinpearl hotel next door, and on the second trip, I stayed in a very cheap place a little inland from the Hyatt. It was extremely cheap at around HKD$100 a night, and was only a 5-10 minute walk away so pretty convenient especially as I wasn't travelling with my family.
The Race: It's another very hot race, which is always a challenge but the 'almost completely without shade-run' was even more of a challenge. The swim is non-wetsuit and the bike is pretty flat with the only gradients coming when you cross one of Da Nang's main bridges. All in all, a pretty fast course if you can handle the heat,
Swim: The swim is very straightforward, a nicely laid out course with no currents to speak of. A few sea lice, but I always seem to find them. I swam both times in just over 40 minutes, so pretty good for me.
Bike: The bike course was the same both times - a pretty flat ride towards Da Nang and over the main bridge. At one point, there are a couple of loops until you head back towards transition. Pretty fast and I clocked sub-3 hour rides both times. No hazards to speak of, but I did see a couple of guys wipe out when 3-4 large 'urban cattle' crossed the road. I wasn't far away from being wiped out too, but going the other way and got lucky.
Run: As I said before, a very hot, out and back run. I liked the route - 10km out and 10km back all along the coast, which I find better than doing loops. Very little shade, so it certainly cooks you, but if you can get into your stride it's nice and flat and therefore fast.
Finish line: A fun finish and they certainly look after you there. Nice bit of swag - decent medal and finisher T-shirt. Both times I raced I was on the early evening flight after the race, so didn't hang around. But if you have time it would be a fun afternoon and evening I'm sure.
Post-race thoughts: Not a huge race, but a decent turnout, well-organized and well-supported. Not much to see in Da Nang, but if you've never been to Hoi An, then this race is worth doing to combine them both. A few photos below - from the now defunct Vietnam Triathlon in 2011 to my races in 2017 and 2018.