Laguna Phuket Ironman 70.3 – Unique Triathlon Challenge Amid Tropical Delights
Laguna Phuket Ironman 70.3 – Unique Triathlon Challenge Amid Tropical Delights
Registration is still open for the 2012 Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket in Thailand – and you’d be crazy to miss out on the chance to compete in this unique destination event that has captured the hearts of triathletes all over the world.
The Sunday December 2nd race will be the third Ironman 70.3 to be staged on this paradise tropical island a week after the legendary Laguna Phuket Triathlon (LPT) and this year it offers 25 qualifying slots to the 2013 Ironman World Championship 2013 in Las Vegas.
The days between the two spectacular events in Phuket will be filled with a Tri-Fest of training and social events held in and around the luxurious Laguna Phuket destination resort.
This triathlon carnival has proved a popular attraction for international athletes eager to sample the delights of Thailand while rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ironman 70.3 world champions Michael Raelert and Melissa Rollison, last year’s Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific champions at Laguna Phuket.
Michael Raelert triumphed at Laguna Phuket last year, setting a course record of 03:51:36. Following Raelert home were an elite field of seasoned athletes including Richie Cunningham, Paul Matthews, Timothy James, David Dellow, Massimo Cigana, Paul Ambrose and Matt Reed.
The 2011 women’s field top finishers were Melissa Rollison, Natascha Badmann, Radka Vodickova, Emma-Kate Lidbury, Tamsin Lewis, Michelle Wu, Katja Rabe and Belinda Granger.
A fantastic spokesperson for the event, Belinda Granger has been one of the greatest supporters and an active ambassador for the Laguna Phuket race. She has been coming to Phuket for the LPT and now the Ironman 70.3 since 2000, having missed the event only once in that period.
“Without a doubt Laguna Phuket is my favourite race destination in the world,” says Belinda.
“There are many reasons why I continue to return year after year - the race, the food, the people, the weather, the accommodation, the sticky rice and mango.... my list could go on and on.....”
“This really is one of the most amazing race experiences out there. I have watched the race grow in size and in expertise over the years making it one of the best and most exciting races of the year.
It has a bit of everything- it’s certainly not an easy race, but that’s why I love it - the hills and the weather make it so challenging.
“The best thing about the race is that you don't just go there for the race itself – it’s the entire race experience that keeps me coming back. Getting to stay in the Laguna Phuket resort and experiencing all that it has to offer post-race is perfect, especially for families. There is just so much to see and do.
“Make sure that if you do head over to this year's race that you have a few days after the race to explore and enjoy everything that Phuket has to offer....you won't be disappointed!”
And yet another appeal of Laguna Phuket is the equally important business of the Awards Party - hosted by race announcer Whit Raymond, these parties have become the stuff of legend among the international triathlon community and last year’s was no exception!
International Sporting Venue
Situated on Thailand’s Andaman Sea coastline, Phuket is located almost 1,000 kilometres southwest of Bangkok. It has been luring international visitors for decades with its balmy tropical charm and character.
Laguna Phuket, an integrated resort collection of seven deluxe hotel and villa properties on the northwest coast of the island, hosts both triathlon events. With its stunning location amid 1,000 acres of tropical lagoon-filled parkland on pristine Bang Tao Beach plus a wealth of recreational options, from golf to island-hopping, Laguna Phuket is renowned worldwide as the finest destination resort in Asia.
In addition to the deluxe hotel facilities that draw holidaymakers from around the globe, Laguna Phuket is also famed as a venue for world-class sporting activities, including golf, tournaments and the Laguna Phuket International Marathon. The Ironman 70.3 was awarded to Laguna Phuket in recognition of its world class facilities, reputation in staging important athletic events, and ease of travel from all major cities.
Laguna Phuket’s reputation is well-deserved. LPT, an established fixture on the global triathlon calendar, is dubbed “The Race of Legends” for its consistent ability to attract the world’s best professional triathletes including the likes of Greg Welch, Mike Pigg, Simon Lessing, Craig Alexander, Paula Newby-Fraser, Michellie Jones, Samantha McGlone and Chrissy Wellington, to name just a few.
Turbocharged Ironman 70.3 Course
The Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket is a turbocharged LPT racecourse. The swim is a distance-adjusted version of the LPT’s trademark two-body of water course with a section in the turquoise-clear Andaman Sea, followed by a beach run-over into a fresh water tropical lagoon.
The bike course is Championship caliber, featuring fishing villages, beaches and sea views. The scenery isn’t free, as the roads point up and twist down along this spectacular coastline. The east coast roads are accessed by a ramp traverse on a pedestrian bridge – with mandatory dismount and bike push - that allows the race to cross Highway 402, Phuket’s main north-south traffic artery. The bridge traverse is done twice, at approximately 17k out and 65k on the way back.
After the second ramp traverse the bike course connects to sections of the LPT bike course, including the race’s challenging Naithon hills. In the 70.3, riders tackle these hills from the opposite direction, posing an entirely new set of challenges.
The run course is contested over loops through and around the Laguna Phuket resort itself, including the golf course, as well as off-road sections.
Thai Culture and Relaxed Ambience
The enthusiastic reception given to athletes by the residents of Phuket is another quality that makes racing in Phuket so memorable for competitors. Hundreds of young students line the roadsides near their schools waving flags and cheering on the competitors.
The Thai character of the event is personified by the presence of an elephant – an icon of Thai culture – which greets the race winners at the finishing line and poses for photos with them.
The atmosphere combines with a relaxed ambiance generated by training and social activities staged throughout the Tri-Fest extravaganza that allows age groupers to mingle with pros - some of whom have entered for both events and will be at Laguna Phuket for the complete period.
Experience All That Phuket Has to Offer
There’s endless opportunities to explore Phuket and its many attractions, as well as experience fascinating Thai culture at first hand. With Phuket’s high season beginning late November, the weather is set to be idyllic, with blue skies, crystal seas and average temperatures between 25°C and 33°C.
In keeping with the active lifestyles of triathletes, action activities such as sea canoeing, snorkeling and scuba diving are all readily available. The scenic attractions of the famous Phi Phi islands and Phang Nga Bay are easily accessed and excellent boat trips can be made to a variety of spectacular islands and beaches around Phuket. The soaring limestone cliffs of nearby Krabi province offer some of the most spectacular rock climbing in Asia.
Back on dry land, Phuket’s jungle interior is there to be explored on safari adventures, either by traditional elephant trekking, or by 4x4 jeep or on top of ATVs (all-terrain vehicles). A variety of cultural attractions, such as, Buddhist temples, Chinese Shrines, Phuket’s Old Town with its charming Sino-Portuguese architecture and a huge statue of Buddha located on one of Phuket’s highest mountain-tops, beckon to be explored.
If you need to slow down, Thai massage is ideal for soothing and revitalising the muscles of triathletes - and Laguna Phuket has five world-class spas where massage and other traditional therapies are offered. With many other massage facilities elsewhere around the island, triathletes will have no excuse for aching muscles.
There are bargains to be had at Phuket’s markets and shopping malls, particularly in the variety of small tailors’ shops where one-of-a-kind garments are run up to order in double-quick time.
And of course, Thailand’s well-known cuisine is a major feature of Phuket, available everywhere from simple roadside stalls to top-class dining establishments.
For the culinary-inclined, Thai cooking classes are available at various locations in and around Laguna Phuket, so you can even take a taste of Thailand home with you.
Phuket is easily accessed withdirect international flights, as well as many connecting flights from regional hubs such as Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Event sponsor Thai Airways International is offering excess baggage bike allowance of 15kg for online bookings.
In addition, international charter airlines service Phuket with direct flights, mainly during the high season of November to April.
For registration and accommodation specials visit: www.ironmanphuket.com
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