Ironman Muscat 70.3 Race Report-how it all changed in 10 min, by David Hunt

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A wiseman (experienced local triathlete) once said to me that “Triathlon is a fickle bride”. If you are looking for one of those race reports where I tell you that I had the perfect race after months of training; nailed the swim; aced the bike course and laced the run then stop reading now. This isn’t one of those. 

If you are still reading then here we go. The alarm goes off on race morning at 04:00 am and in those moments, when it’s still dark and peaceful, you lie there and think “why am I doing this to myself again? Surely life would be simpler to just walk downstairs to the coffee shop and have a croissant and a latte?” Then you remember your reasons and off we go, down to breakfast. It’s still very dark in transition as tyres are checked, nutrition attached and bags rechecked. One memorable thing about Oman is the amazing dawn chorus of birdsong which greets every sunrise.

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The swim course is a simple anti-clockwise loop. Its quite shallow so it is almost possible to walk out to the first yellow buoy. The sea flat calm and there isn’t much bumping and barging and fortunately managed to find feet for the last third of the course giving me one of my best swim splits ever. Racing through transition as the new Blue Seventy 2022 Reaction full suit slips off super quick with its thin arms and legs. Onto the bike and we are down the road everything is looking good so far!

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How it all went wrong in 10 minutes

For the first part of the bike course it turns right, straight past the Intercontinental hotel. At one of the first roundabouts, I am almost taken out by a truck. Despite a policeman at the entrance to the roundabout the truck encroaches. I shout at the top of my voice. Fortunately the driver-side-window is down and he obviously hears my guttural roar and slams on the brakes, stopping just in time. Just ahead is a U turn, marked by a sign. It’s not a 100 per cent clear exactly where the turn around point is and as I turn around the cone, another cyclist takes the inside lane almost causing a collision. Powering back towards the highway, a large speed bump is not well marked, causing gels to go flying and then another bump. Fortunately foreseeing such situation spares were carried in the Naked race belt. Then disaster strikes. At the bottom of the flyover the dreaded sound of rim on road reaches my ears and I look back to see the rear tyre on the disc wheel looking decidedly flat. Off we get, out with the CO2 cartridges. It inflates but the hissing sound is a dead giveaway that there is quite a large hole in the tyre. A multitude of thoughts go through your brain at that point. It’s a long way to come and not finish the race. Option, I really do want to ride this stunning bike course and get that impressive medal. I did train for this race. A peloton of riders go by and there is one very helpful voice “Everything ok?”. Well actually no it isn’t mate but I don’t think you are going to stop and find out as you disappear down the hill. Classic isn’t it. (Most of us do it don’t we, especially in a race!) Ok, think! I have a spare 808 in the back of the car which is in the hotel car park about 1 km away. I try and ride the bike back to the hotel but the tyre is too flat so it’s a run walk.

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I park the bike at the hotel door and race into the breakfast room looking for Rianca. Can’t see her! “Where the f@ck is she when I need her?”. As I realize she could be anywhere within a one kilometer radius of the hotel a further search would be futile. Bike shoes come off and I charge to reception to get another room key. The very sweet Omani gentlemen asks me if the marathon is over? Very f@cking funny! Into the lift, run to the room to get the car key and pump and back to reception to get the bike. Run to the car and quickly change the wheel, pump the tyre and ride back out to the course, leaving the car key in the mud flap.

More thoughts… will I make the cut off time as I had no idea how much time I had lost. Quick maths and realise that shouldn’t be a problem. However, at that point I was probably the last person on the course.

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Ok, so let’s just enjoy it and treat it as a training race for Boulder 70.3. I haven’t come all this way to just do a sea swim. So after about 5 kms I catch a few cyclists and then a few more as the course sweeps onto the magnificent Mutrah harbour corniche.

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Honestly this is one of the most stunning bike courses I have ever seen as it weaves through the old town, past the Royal Palace and the Diwan of Royal Court and along the coast to the Al Bustan hotel. The road sweeps right for a fairly serious climb and now I catch and pass groups of cyclists struggling with the hill. The rest of the bike course is great. Some gradual climbs and fast sections on super fast road surface on well coned off roads. Congratulations to the team for laying out such an epic bike route. Passing a lot of stragglers and I am quietly very happy with a 3 hour 30 bike ride considering having to change a wheel. 

Not a fast T2 as I explain to Rianca the calamity of the bike leg, that I am ok and why I am 45 minutes behind schedule. The run is 3 loops of 7km around the park and along the beach front. I jog past many familiar faces as I am on fresh legs on my first lap whilst somewhat struggling with heavier legs by the third.  

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Eventually the red carpet comes after 6 hours and 18 minutes. Probably 45 minutes behind schedule but I am super chuffed to finish what was a really great training day! 

This was a great race and more than made up for the lack of Dubai 70.3. Having been involved with the race as nutrition provider for the first two editions we have to congratulate Mohammed Obaidani for improving the athlete experience year on year. The roads were better coned off and the aid stations well stocked and replenished. There was even some merch! Oman is a beautiful country to visit and I can thoroughly recommend the experience. 

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It was nice to complete all three regional races over this season. Salalah was unique and a real battle; Bahrain was soulless but fast as expected. Muscat was just special! I calculated that I lost around 35 minutes due to the need to change the wheel which would have given me a finish time of  5 hrs 45 min. Arguably it would have been a few minutes faster than that had I been racing from start to finish but I learned a lot from the experience and had a memorable day in the office. In this sport you never stop learning (see next blog)…

By David Hunt Certified Trisutto Coach. See Davids Coaches Profile here.

Posted on 13th Feb 2023