On 20 September 2015, a fine sunny day, I completed the Garden SiSiSic Super Challenge Race which was composed of a 1.5km swim, 60km bike section and 15km run.

Only half of the 70 triathletes in my age group managed to finish the race. Perhaps this is why it is called the Super Challenge Race. 

I decided to join the race in late June this year and began my training during the summer break. In the beginning, I treated it as just a test to see whether I have enough stamina to complete, in future, a Half Ironman race (70.3 miles or 113km in total, with 1.9km swim, 90km cycling and a half marathon). Some triathletes who had completed the Half Ironman before commented that the Super Challenge Raceis just as difficult because the 60km bike track may seem shorter but is challenging due to the uphill slopes and S-shaped steep downhill sections on Bride’s Pool Road. 

Despite training regularly during the summer holidays I soon realised that my performance level was only marginally enough for completing the race due to the tight cut-off time set by the organiser for the cycling part. The race begins with swimming, with a start time of 06:15 early in the morning. The first cut-off time is set for 09:00, when cyclists would have to pass through the first turning point and enter the last lap. By 09:25, participants must reach the second turning point and begin the run. Triathletes who miss these cut-off times are eliminated from the race. I worried that my swimming and cycling performance would leave me almost no time to spare! To overcome this worry, I decided to adopt a safety-first approach and a lighthearted attitude – to do my best with no regrets. Perhaps the accident in which one of our coaches broke his collarbone just two weeks before the race reminded me that safety should always be the top priority. 

One week before the race, I significantly reduced my training and began a carb-loading diet to preserve energy and avoid fatigue. The night before the race I went to sleep at 8pm since I had to wake up at 2am. I was ready to go at 3am with my bike and gear, and arrived at the starting point 10 minutes before 4am. Actually, there is a lot of preparation work such as body marking, setting up the bike and gear, checking the environment, doing warmup exercises, stocking up on energy sources and fluids, attending a briefing, etc. On the day, the atmosphere was great which helped raise our spirits to the highest level. We took some photos, people clapped their hands while listening to music and the master of ceremony delivered a bilingual welcoming speech. 

The first event was the 1.5km swim. We had a deep water start, which means triathletes take off from a treading water position when they hear the horn. I did well in that event as I beat my own track record for that distance by five minutes. I then ran to the bike transition point and put on my socks, race number belt, gloves, helmet and sunglasses. I turned on the bike computer and proceeded to push my bike until the mounting point. The four laps on Bride’s Pool Road was the most worrying part for me due to the tight cut-off time. It was amazing that I finished almost 10 minutes earlier than expected. After dismounting from the bike, I went on to the final 15km run which I felt was relatively easy. I made some mistakes in this part which made me lose some time and speed. I ran in the wrong direction so I had to return to the original starting point and start again. I also forgot to put on my running cap, which is one of the common causes of dehydration. I felt dehydrated during the running session. As all the bottles of water had been taken by the triathletes before me, it was lucky that I brought my own bottle. I also need to give special thanks to a lady who shared half of her bottle with me and my friends who were cheering for me from the sidelines. 

I finished the race in 4 hours and 43 minutes. All in all, I feel really satisfied with the result even though one might consider it a mediocre achievement. I acknowledge that it is hard for me to win a medal in the sport no matter how hard I train myself, especially since I don’t have the luxury of having plenty of time to train, yet this doesn’t demotivate me. I will continue with this sport as I derive a lot of value from it, in terms of bodily activity, health, friendship and spiritual wellbeing. I now have my eyes set on my next goal – to complete the Half Ironman in 2016.