Shivakumar Rajeshwaran's gift for his 40th!
(as told to Parul Sheth)
The race is in central Manama, the capital of Bahrain, a fast-developing city, driven by its increasingly prominent role in the banking and financial services world. It is the middle eastern championship race.
The swim was a single loop, taking place in the sheltered Bahrain Bay in the shadow of The Avenues. It was a rolling swim start and the course was well marked with buoys and kayaks. The water was calm, and wetsuit legal for age groupers at 24 deg. It was a perfect day with a tide assisted return! I swam an almost exact distance of 1.9km and got my swim PB.
The Bike course, out and back 45km into the desert, was largely flat with a few flyovers, not really like rolling hills. The main factor to contend with was the wind. There was significant headwind on the way out. After a while we made the right-hand turn into the F1 track complex. This was set to be a mini highlight of the course, with the novel experience of getting to ride around a large part of the track. Although it was only 5km, getting to actually ride around was great fun.
Before I knew it, we were making the turn into the pit lane, and that soon led to the turn out into the parking area behind and out of the track complex.
An amazing bike course, where I got my PB (again!)
The half marathon was 3 loops of 7km along a main highway – pancake flat but with no shade at all. There was a lot of spectators, friends and family of the participants, along the course so it was very encouraging. I ran steady and did not push as I was afraid of cramping. The weather was great, 24-25 deg and no humidity. Finishing the race was a high with all the cheering!
It was a wonderful race for me, as I got my Half Ironman PB by over 40 mins. It was the culmination of 4 months of consistent work with my coach, Kaustubh Radkar. After my first Half Ironman race in Colombo in 2017, which was hot, humid and horrible, this was a perfect antithesis. In Bahrain, everything went as per plan.
The other stuff:
A great goodie bag awaited us with an awesome Ironman bag, a cap and a Ironman branded puffer jacket. There was a lavish pre race banquet and briefing.
Alistair Brownlee was there as a part of the relay team in the swim leg.
And the best was to see the “Legends” relay team with Australia Chloe McCardel (who has completed 20+ Channel swims, and holds the world record for the longest unassisted ocean swim :124.4 kilometers) with 30x stage winner in the Tour de France, Mark Cavendish on the bike, and the half marathon finished off by Sir Mo Farah.
Also, there is a vast array of quality accommodation available within easy reach of the event venue, much it within walking distance or a five minute taxi ride.
I like to challenge myself. I started by running 5kms and gradually moved to Marathons. With this Half Ironman under my belt, I hope to do Ironman 140.6 Estonia 2020, before my 40th birthday! It will be a great achievement for me…