Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya Course Preview

Well done to some of you that managed to register for the Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya during the early-early bird registration of USD199. This offer has ended and the Early Bird pricing of USD240 is valid now until early next year. 
The 70.3 is seen as a good introduction distance to those that has succeeded in completing an Olympic Distance triathlon and ready to challenge themselves in a slightly longer distance. 
As promised in my previous posting, I will provide a course preview of the race course for those of you that may come from outside of Putrajaya, or Malaysia.
Getting Here
Google for Putrajaya and you will certainly be routed to this map here. However, the start of the race in Putrajaya 70.3 will be at Monumen Alaf Baru or the pencil like structure in Putrajaya (I kid you not). It is known as the Millennium Monument, that was well, built to commemorate the world turning 2000 (per Gregorian calendar). Facts : there is a time capsule under the Pencil, which will be opened in year 2020. That is less than 6 years on race day.
Taken from Wikipedia here
This spot is one of the lesser visited spot in Putrajaya by the locals and a good place to be used as Swim and T1. 
Swim 1.9km (1x1.9km Loop)
From webpage for Putrajaya 70.3
I used to do a lot of kayaking at this part of the lake at the other end (where the Putrajaya Marine/Boathouse is), and the water is pretty alright. Wind can be strong at this place but expect very flat swim with no turbulence or underwater current. Water depth is only about 1.5m at most places with perhaps 2 to 2.5m at their deepest. Visibility is typical of a lake with expected sight about 2m maximum - which is good enough to see the bubble from the swimmer infront so you can draft in their wake (and thus, reducing drag as much as 25%). Tips: do not swim behind another swimming for maximum draft, stay left or right and help to do the work - think : ARROW head. No penalty for drafting in water, biggest challenge is to pick someone of your capability and swim with him/her so you can both help sight each other. 
The swim will be counter-clockwise in one loop towards Tuanku Mizan Mosque (which is made from (all) steel structure and a good sighting point as you swim to complete your first 400m. Then you make two right turn and head towards the Pencil structure and swim past it to the (iconic) Seri Wawasan Bridge before taking two more right turn and back to the Monument. Out of water, you will then run about 50 meters to transition.
Concerns : Water quality at the lake. Putrajaya is essentially a wetland surrounded by multiple lake/marshland and the organiser may need to conduct some water quality testing (periodic) running up to the race day to ensure that the water is not contaminated or found with excessive streps. This may be a concern as lake water or fresh water lake can contain bacteria that may and will cause sickness. However, incidences such as these at Putrajaya is rare, or not reported. Bearing in mind this is the same (huge) lake that covers a few Precinct, including the Precinct 6 water sports (Pullman Hotel area) where Xterra Malaysia and a few local triathlons took place. 
Seri Wawasan Bridge. Swim turn is right at this bridge. Photo from
Transition 1
Transition is expected to be at the open car park and Bike start will be at where the footpath meets Lebuh Bestari.

Bike 90km (2x45km loop)

The biking will mostly be on the highway linking Putrajaya. It is a modified Powerman route with 3 distinctive U-turn and 3-interchange, for a total of 2-loops. Expect a climbs up the typical highway/road ramps which may break heart if you approach it wrongly (aka on heavier gear than you can manage). Headwind is expected but side wind will be minimal as most of the route are covered by slopes on the left and right. Tailwind is what many would hope for for good timing.
From webpage for Putrajaya 70.3
Putrajaya route is actually challenging as riding on a loop mainly highway with many interchange would meant "involuntary encounter" of climbs - short steep climbs that throw your speed and cadence away. During the course replication on Garmin Connect, the elevation changes stay consistent between 10m to 30m differences, which coincide with how the terrain and road/elevations are. Pretty consistent and I won't be surprised to see that the total elevation gain after 2-loops would equal, or be higher than the 2014 Ironman Malaysia at Langkawi course.
Tips: If you encounter headwind, stay low and shift to lighter gear and spin on higher cadence. Not only will it help to clears off the lactic acid from the heavier gear hammering, it will help to conserve energy and keep the leg fresher on the speed attack. Start training on higher cadence in case it comes in handy for the route.
Single Loop approx 45km
A quick lay-out of the course on Garmin Connect sort of gave me this profile, which looked pretty similar to what Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya race course profile does.
Click for larger view. Elevation above is for ONE-loop of 45km.
If you take the trouble I did to lay out the course above, you will see that it typically passes through major "Lebuh" in Putrajaya. Big interchange typically meant longer climbs and in return, good downhill speed. From Powerman 2013 Bike route, the elevation gain was about 1000m, which makes this 45km potentially share the same type of gain. 
Concerns : Like all cyclists, the main worry is always traffic. Racing in Putrajaya has always been safe short of one or two incidences where road users do not follow instructions or went against the instructions of race/junction marshal. We have faith that the organiser under WTC will ensure near total, if not total lock-out of the junctions where 70.3 hopeful will ride past. 
Transition 2
Same spot as T1. No issues here. A fast in and out is expected. Careful with bikers coming in. I believe organiser will provide a dedicated in/out for bike and run as not to clash.
Run 21km (2x10.5km loop)
This will be refreshing as the as the run route is loops around Precint 2 and not on 100% pavement but rather a mix of footpath/foot way with shades from trees. I have to try it out once, perhaps twice to see how runnable the route are.
From webpage for Putrajaya 70.3
The elevation is of little concern as you will already be tired if you have pushed through the bike section and what will be essential is to ensure you are well hydrated and fuelled for the final portion of the race. Running through the finish line meant you will be cheered on by supporters very much like in Powerman. Nice.
Typical of any road run elevation.
Tips : Hydrate well. Shower with the water if you have to. Cap and sunnies is essential. You will be under the afternoon sun and unless it drizzle or rain, expect to come back a shade or two darker.
Concerns: Again, traffic control along stretches with vehicles passing. Minimal but essential that the participants themselves practice some common sense when crossing junctions. Water stations should be setup at most 2.5km to 3km apart, giving the route a 3-station stop over 10.5km loop. 
Where To Stay
There are a few hotels around Putrajaya if you are coming from out of town or out of Malaysia. Pullman Hotel is a nice posh place to be and it is a 10minutes cycle to race start/finish. Everly Putrajaya is at Alamanda and a 15mins drive away. Shangri-La Putrajaya is atop the hill smack in the middle of Putrajaya and a 10-15mins drive. Other choices is at Equatorial and Palm Garden, both about 20minutes drive away. More choices can be found at the usual hotel booking website that offers better than rack rate. All of these hotel rates starts from RM160 (Everly) to RM500 (Shangrila) per night. A cheaper alternative is to stay a bit out, but logistic to race start would be an issue on race morning.

Next Up : Nutrition Plan for a 70.3 distance race

Not Too Late To Register!
The race is still open for registration though the spots are steadily being filled up. Hurry and take advantage of the early bird offer. Date: 13 Apr 2014
Time: 7am
Venue: Precinct 2, Putrajaya
Course: Swim - 1.9km, Bike - 90km, Run 21.1km
Registration fees: Individual - USD240, Team - USD290 (by 17 Jan, therafter additional USD40)
Cash prize: Top 5 winners for Pro Category
Closing date: 14 Mar 2014
Details here


  1. please let us know when you are testing the biking and running route for this ,, would love to join in too

  2. Thanks for the insight. I'm only doing the run which I guess will be a freckle fest for my Irish skin! I love running at Putrajaya though so the skin damage will be worth it-I hope!

    1. Sunblock SFP120 (water-base) :) Big hat (and in style). :D

  3. Thank you for the article. Looks like the locals can recce the race route in the run up. the swim course looks clockwise as opposed to your article which says its counter-clockwise. If we water level is 1.5m, will it result in churn and murkier than usual water for the slower swimmers?

    1. Corrected and thank you! :) Silly me mistaken the route to be anti-clockwise.

      Not really murkier as the bottom are mostly vegetations. the 1.5m should be around the edges - and since the swim is around the lake edges, that is where my initial thoughts came from. the deeper end would be when we cross over at the both end of the turn.

  4. Had the water depth been at 1.5m at the deepest, I probably would have registered and trained for my first triathlon. Pretending to swim during the swim leg would not result in DQ right? :)

    1. haha. No, pretending to swim won't DQ you. ;-)

  5. i've ran the running loop, as we called it, "Putrajaya Core Island". There are a few spots with shady areas, especially around Taman Warisan, toilets are aplenty and clean :).
    Generally the running route is nice, my fav is at pc18 where the housing area looks like "Wisteria Lane of Desperate Housewives" to me. :P
    Nice route I must say!

    1. Thank you for sharing Nannoor! Gonna run this loop soon. :)

  6. With the large number of short climbs, would it be better to use a road bike with tri-bars rather than a tri-bike?

    1. I am going with TT bike full on. Short climb should not bother the TT speed. You are halfway up when you are at speed.

      Also, the road in Putrajaya area is conducive for speeding ;-)

  7. Nice overview, so much better than the official site!