Thursday, December 26, 2013

Morib International Triathlon 2014 Race Report

This must be the first triathlon I've missed this year apart from those situated too far outside of Klang Valley (Kenyir and Miri). The decision to miss this was due to a few reasons, one of them was to support the race "outside" of racing. I've done so previously "during" the race helping friends that just started and need some guidance "on the go", but I figured out maybe I can give a bit more by being there physically while everyone moves around the Swim-Bike-Run circuit. I believe many that has known me personally and through this blog or my Facebook Page, will wonder how come I am not racing. I've joked with them that I've "left my bike at home and found a camera in the car". Lame, i know. 
So, i drove myself down from home to Morib on Sunday at about 5.30am. The journey, as calculated using Google Map will take 1hour 13 minutes.
The drive was uneventful except going through the old road that links Shah Alam and Banting via the Jalan Kebun Bunga and Jalan Masjid. Apart from being the typical kampung road, it is dark as well. So, 60km/h is absolute maximum speed when driving here at 6am. I arrived at the resort at about 7am and cars were parked on both the left and right road shoulder.
Tight spaces
This is an old trunk road (Federal Route 5) that links up technically, the whole country on the west side. That morning, i parked close to 300meters away. 
Walking into the resort, i first bumped into my team mate, Irene and her support vehicle. Irene is with Team Time (racing in the ITU championship) with Coach Steve Lumley. She is also with Team 2ndSkin
Cilipadi No. 2.
Transition was the car park of the resort. It was busy with activities and an estimation of the bike and space tells me there were about 500people, max, racing that morning. Small race and good for starter for those dabbling into triathlon.
Swim 1.2km
The Swim was to start at 7.30am, but was delayed to 7.45 am as Uncle Chan said to "allow" the tide/water to raise a bit. Could the delay was because the VIP has not arrived yet? Looking out to the sea, the water level was pathetic. Morib beach has a lot of silt because it is near the mouth of Sungai Klang (at Carey Island). Even from the satellite image, you can see the area is covered with silt and despite the "high tide", one need to run out almost 70meters before reaching waist high level to swim. 
You can almost walk to the buoy at the far end...
The delay was used fully for me to capture photos of friends. Previously, I was the subject in the photo - it was refreshing to be on the other side taking photos instead.
Phui Tin doing her first triathlon
Jun Shen with his parents. He is still the youngest Ironman Malaysia finisher in history
Edwin (Joo Ngan Son Bicycle) and his merry ban of triathlete. Edwin took up the challenge to help others to be triathletes. Nice one sir!
The race finally started and it was the men 16-29 going off first. Then it was the Men 30-39. This is the most competitive age group with most of them in their prime and is considered to be racing for the past five years at least. This is also my age group.
Rupert (in Red Pearl Izumi) and Sharom (Abdullah) gunning for it
The swim was 1.2km and should be completed in two loops of 600m each. With the low water level, it is sort of reduced by 200 to 250m total in a square configuration (and not triangle). Distance include running on land/beach. Here are some select pictures of triathletes getting out of the sea.
First man out of water
First woman out of water - Irene!
Sabki - representing Malaysia in Paralympic game
My batchmate Sean Mutalib. He don't have a FB account, so this is me tagging him here
The swim was ok for the leading pack, and then it all went wrong as someone in the middle pack decided to short cut, be it due to bad water condition (less visibility) of the far right buoy was not in sight. Instead of going in a square, what happened was a majority of them turned at the first buoy and headed back. The announcer (Razlan) tried to inform the race organiser, which in return tried to radio the marshal out in the water to get everyone back on their course. But it did not happen. From my own observation at the second loop, I noticed that there is still many that swam buoy to buoy (in square) and back. Some in fact swam further due to the water/tidal current pushing them off course. The buoy was at the right position, but the smaller buoys were in a zig-zag manner due to the current. Whatever it was, I believe it was still tough for the beginners and the back packers - having to struggle with bad water and tide. Siltation does funny things to how water flows near the shore.
I stayed long enough to until only about 20% left were out in the sea and headed into transition. There, i waited for a few friends. 

I observed the few people in transition and it sort of strengthen my thoughts on getting yourself familiar with transition. T1 is a very daunting place as you come out from water daze and confused. I wrote about Transition here. 10 Tips for good transition. With that done, i headed out to the bike course. And the sun has started to come out of it's full glory.
Bike 35km
The challenge as a photographer is to get a clean background without much disturbance. As the road leading to the hotel/venue has cars lined up on both sides, I have to walk past my own car (last at the furthest end) and hope to get a good line of sight. As it turned out, not too good with a short distance before the road turn left. So, i drove out further, about 2km out and found a spot safe enough for me to park my car and stand. You see, the trunk road is small with almost no, or very little sidewalk or buffer. I do not want to risk myself being run down by the vehicles travelling at high speed or endanger cyclists. With the sun being right at about 30-45degree from the horizon, i know i will have a difficult time with the camera settings...
washed out first shot. Had to adjust (post process) to make it acceptable
You can see how busy the road and where there is less than 3feet buffer by the side to stand. I had to be mindful. Then having to deal with the sun, and I wasn't ready/enough time to get the setting. It was shooting instantly and hoping it comes out ok.
Now under..... :Þ
I have only a few minutes before the next peloton reach, so vehicles passing were fair game as "test shots"
Kakak Polis 
The test shot that resulted in me noticing Klaus!
After a few shots, I realised where I was standing was not idea due to the proximity with the athletes. It got a bit too close for comfort and I can tell some were not wary I was there.
 And those that did usually provide me with more than just a smile
So Asian (for an Angmoh)
Here are some select shots from the biking. By the way, organiser sanctioned this to be a "draft-legal" race. Meaning you can follow the person in front of you. Not the most ideal if you ask me, not with the traffic condition and most bikes with tri-bars.
Ah Thiam aka Hafiz (back rider) in action
Overexposed and corrected (white balance) and I get this. Cyclist flying???
Irene on bike
A peloton moving fast
Panning shots of Lesley and Pui San
EM ordered a panning shot, and (phew) I delivered.
Yeap! Camwhoring!
Run 8km
I got back to the starting line and this time, I had to park even further than I initially did. With cars on the sides of road, there is very little space to accommodate myself and the runners, so I have to keep moving until i find the right spot to take photos. Thankfully, with the sun almost at the top of me, lighting and exposure was almost perfect. Enjoy some of the photos from the run. 

I finally managed to "break free" from the endless cars parked on the side of the road. It was a breather knowing I have more space to stand and take the pictures.

I believe I had walked almost 2 to 3 km out and quickly get myself back to the starting line again. Somehow, I know my friend, Phui Tin should be on her way back. And I wasn't disappointed. It was a run to the finish (to be ahead and take her photo) for me.

Post Race
The race finished without any major incident. I heard there were one fall of bike by a girl. Not sure if she is ok as nothing has been updated since. Congrats to all winners and finishers. It was a fun race for many - as that is Mr. Chan's trademark, more so if the triathlon race is not the usual one that happened at year end, or during the period of the year.

Some thoughts about the race :
1. Swim - Morib is not really suitable for swimming. Water quality and also the depth of the water play a big part. What makes PD more suitable is really because the seabed has been deepened to accommodate the marina. Else, it will also be another "walk" in the water. 

2. Bike  - traffic control were bad if not horrific. As a spectator, i saw so many near misses as the local Morib/Banting/Sepang folks get confused about the amount of bikers on the road. Many were speeding and overtaking rather recklessly. Some did it on the left because some cars wanted to turn to the right. Having used this route for bike training before, I know exactly what to look out for - and this was one of the other reasons why I did not race this time. 

3. Run - I was told the water stations were with ice, which is great because the sun was really showing Her full power that day. It was hot and dry that I came back a shade darker. Perhaps the only improvement I would hope will happen is again, traffic control. Cars do come dangerous close to the runners - and when you are "in the zone", you tend to forget/let your guards down as you run next to traffic. 

Enjoy some after race photos here:

And lastly, thank you Julia and Fadil for this capture of me during the swim start. Yes, I was not there for the race.
Spotting me without trisuit on a tri-event. Maybe its a sign...
Thanks Victor and Elaine for making me looked like racing despite NOT taking part. :D

More Photos here:

I snapped about 1900photos on event day using my Nikon D3, 50mm F1.2, 70-200 F2.8 and a flashlight SB600. Hope you enjoy this report, that is a bit different from the other I've done (where I am racing, usually).


  1. Nice report! really enjoy reading it mate!

  2. Good report and nice photos taken! I also have a 70-200 Nikon lens, but I am using the old discontinued Nikon D40x.

    1. Nice. old glasses last forever. I have a 70-210 as well. Push/pull type. D40x is good if you ask me. Small and light for travelling.

  3. Nice. Yes lots of guys just turned on the buoy on the 2 nd leg. Haiz.

  4. Nice report! So annoying with all the people cutting the swim short.

    1. ;-) It happened. Most important we don't do it. We pay for 1.2km swim and should get 1.2km (or more) swim!

    2. Checked my 910XT, i swam 1.48km....sad......

  5. Feel satisfied upon seeing these nice pictures you captured, right Mr. Photographer?
    Thanks so much once again for the awesome pics.

  6. nice report bro, in fact im the one who got the crash(not girl, im a guy with a wife and boy!!)the traffic control was really horrible, i was leading a peloton, what i remember was, i got overtaken by a lorry, in a very high speed, which created a very strong vacumm current, and i decide to make a emergency jump, hence i fell, broke my wrist, fractured my chin. and i went unconscous. and my wife waited for me for about 4 hrs only they manage to find that im in trouble!!!! my worst traffic control race ever. n the police was like all MIA!!!, it was the civil defense guy who found me. i was transferred to 1 diff hosp and went thru surgery, luckily doc say i can resume training in 6-8 week time. wouldnt wana miss im7-.3 putrajaya and im langkawi. its not the 1st time i join uncle chan event, the nusajaya was one of the best controlled, but this? he got a malas and bad traffic control. thank god my insticts told me to eject, and im still safe and sound, the injury will recover

    1. Max. I am sorry to hear this. So, i was not wrong when I risk-assess the traffic condition. I saw a few lorries dangerously close to the riders and my heart skip many beats eerytime it happened.

      Quick and good recovery soon brother!

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