Reigning Ironman 70.3 world champion Michael Raelert of Germany heads a high-calibre field of international professional triathletes racing to Phuket to take on the unique back-to-back challenge of the Laguna Phuket Triathlon (LPT) and inaugural Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship in the same week.
The elite pros will join some 900 individual and relay team competitors in each triathlon held on consecutive weekends at Laguna Phuket – the LPT on 28 November and Ironman 70.3 on 5 December – amid a scene-setting 10-day carnival of related events.
In addition to Michael Raelert, the pro line-up competing in both events includes former Ironman 70.3 world champion and 2004 Olympian Samantha McGlone from Canada; 12-time Iron distance race champion Belinda Granger of Australia; Italy’s Massimo Cigana, a former LPT champion and Ironman 70.3 winner; experienced Ironman and Ironman 70.3 contender Justin Granger of Australia; and Sweden’s Frederik Croneberg, runner-up in the recent Ironman 70.3 Tokoname Japan.
The Laguna Phuket pro presence will also include other top names contesting the Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship for a slice of the US$75,000 prize purse: five-time Ironman champion Luke McKenzie of Australia; 2008 Ironman 70.3 Florida winner Paul Amey of Great Britain; Tim O’ Donnell of the USA, the 2009 International Triathlon Union long distance world champion; and Australian Rachael Paxton, winner of the inaugural 2009 Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya in Malaysia.
“We’re absolutely delighted to have attracted such an exciting line-up of some of the world’s top pro triathletes led by the reigning Ironman 70.3 world champion,” said Laguna Triathlon director Debbie Dionysius.
“The calibre of professional triathlon talent on show, together with enthusiastic amateur fields, will create fascinating sporting spectacles and draw worldwide attention to Phuket,” she said.
Pros and amateurs entered for both races face the challenge of recovering from the LPT to take on the Ironman 70.3 Championship a week later on an extended LPT course described as: “a turbocharged Laguna Phuket Triathlon.”
The LPT course has a 1.8k swim, 55k bike ride and 12k run – while the Ironman 70.3 course has a 1.9k swim, 90k bike ride and 21.1k run.
The Ironman 70.3 bike course is particularly challenging, crossing Phuket’s main north-south highway on a specially-built ramp to run into the picturesque east coast hills, before swinging back to Laguna Phuket through a series of steep inclines along the Nai Thon coastline.
To support competitors’ preparations, a carnival of triathlon training and related social events is being staged at various venues around Laguna Phuket before, during and after the main races, with opportunities for amateurs to train alongside the pros.
“The complete programme of both the triathlons and related events is a unique opportunity for professional and amateur athletes alike to take on extreme endurance challenges and get together in an exotic tropical setting,” said Debbie Dionysius.
“It’s set to be an exciting week-long sporting carnival, featuring some of the world’s best triathletes and high-profile amateur entrants that will reaffirm Laguna Phuket’s reputation as a compelling worldwide triathlon venue.”
The amateur ranks feature Phuket resident Garry Holden, attempting both the LPT and Ironman 70.3 in the latest phase of a fitness lifestyle launched only a year ago with his appearance on TV weight loss reality show The Biggest Loser Asia, where he eventually shed a staggering 45 kilograms in just five months.
He makes his attempt after successfully completing the half marathon category of the Laguna Phuket International Marathon in June, his first-ever running event.