This is the second year that I have raced the Fiji Long Course Triathlon (trifiji.com.au), and even with a change to the bike course and the experience of having completed last years race, it was not any easier this time around. For the 2015 Long Course race Adam Gordon from New Zealand had a great overall win, finishing well under four hours, while Emily Donker was the first female across the line, completing the race in just less than four and a half hours.
The event is a weekend long sports and triathlon festival with functions starting on the Thursday and Friday nights before the race weekend, with a final gala presentation dinner held on the Sunday night.
I still consider the main event for the weekend to be the Long Course Triathlon that is held on the Sunday (but I am biased because that is my main race for the weekend) with the festival now boasting an ITU Oceania Sprint Cup Race on the Saturday, as a major draw card for some of the region’s young professional racers. The Saturday also has a number of smaller races, encouraging locals and tourists alike including, sprint and enticer triathlons, 1km and 2km open water swims, 2km and 5km fun runs and a kids aquathon.
This years long course saw quite a few changes to the layout of the race including the transition area now placed in the grounds of the Denarau Golf and Racket Club. The swim started on the main beach of the Westin resort and consisted of two laps of a rectangle 1km course, running into the water from the sand. Although the water is a little murky it was calm, with the temperature during the race was about 25 degrees Celsius. A steep ramp met swimmers as they got out of the swim, fortunately managed by numerous strong Fijian men able to pull all competitors up to then run 200 metres through to the transition area.
The bike course left Denarau Island and the resorts behind and passed through the centre of the Nadi Town, all the way the locals were waving and cheering as riders moved through the course. Once in the centre of Nadi, last years course took you left onto the road leading to the Airport, this year it moved in the opposite direction towards the Coral Coast, with the road surface smoother than in previous years. It tracked through rural settings with a slight uphill push onto the small village of Korovutu where the turnaround point was. The course then looped back for three laps, before heading back to Denarau Island, and the transition area.
The run course was four 5km laps of Denarau Island, including the main resorts and the golf course. The course was flat and fast but speed depended on how hard you pushed through the bike leg, with had three aid stations are placed along the run course for all your needs
This year’s race seemed to be cool at the start of the swim but soon heated up coming into the late morning with the run being both hot and humid for all competitors. Although the roads are open for the entire bike leg, there was traffic management throughout the course with approximately 40 local police helping with directing traffic, both on foot and in vehicles. Quite a few competitors had falls on the bike leg through all races of the weekend, with some water on the road for the long course on Sunday.
I have to be happy with my race. I took close to ten minutes off my time from the previous year with my bike leg showing considerable improvement and pushing my well into the top ten. But I think the heat got to me through the ride because my run was not too impressive. I did finish the day with a respectable result and happy that I had made the trip over to Fiji again.
The race weekend is a complete experience that is continuing to change and hopefully improve further in coming years. Not sure if I will be back for a third year in a row, but look forward to see what the future has to offer as I know I will be back again. Fiji is an amazing backdrop for the race, with the volunteers, event staff and competitors all friendly and approachable, and from what I can see loving the relaxed environment and atmosphere.
Tri Swim Coach Ambassador
Vince works as an IT Engineer in Melbourne, Australia where he lives with his cat Tim Tam. He has been a runner for longer than he can remember. He competes in distance running races, open water swims and long course triathlons.