13-14 November, 2021
“Watt” a way to bring triathlon back to Singapore!
The bright faces of athletes were a sight to behold at beautiful Palawan Beach, during two days of racing in this year’s MetaSprint Series Triathlon back to Singapore. The race was the culmination of 18 months of perseverance, positivity and determination on the part of athletes and organisers alike – since the postponed 2020 edition of the race. The race may have looked and felt very different, but the “can-do” attitude of everyone was evident and boy it was “great to be back!”.
Covid-19 safe practices were implemented everywhere, and a revised schedule meant that the 1000 registered athletes raced in 25-person waves across four sessions, in a rolling start. So rather than having a clear-cut race to the line, athletes who raced over the 15km cycle, 750m swim and 5km run Sprint distance, were on tenterhooks until lunchtime Sunday to see if their performance was enough to score a podium in their age category.
Saturday saw some competitive racing between enthusiastic age-group athletes, with Swiss Joel Liebi, the 2021 MetaSprint Duathlon champion (54:13) and Canadian April Rice (1:02:43) setting the day’s leading times and nervously awaiting the next day’s action. They didn’t have to linger long, as Michael Cassinides and Suzie Bacon mounted their Wattbike early in the day and began their races. The Wattbike offers new technology for the race, by providing the athletes with a smooth ride, and data such as pace, power, cadence and balance between left and right leg power output.
Cassinides lost two minutes and twenty seconds to Liebi on the bike leg, but then mounted a charge and put together a swim-run combination that clawed back 42 seconds – not enough to claim top step on the podium, but enough to overtake Ben Khoo and take second place in 56:46. Ben Khoo was third in 57:45. And so we thought the leaderboard was complete, but Ahmad Arif Ibraham (the 2020 MetaSprint Duathlon champion) had other ideas – using his 13:30 time slot to fly under the radar and make his mark on the course. He was 3 mins 23 secs behind Liebi off the bike, but made up 1:28 in the swim, 36 secs in the transitions (a good reminder to practise these!), and 1:20 in the run to win by the narrowest of margins – one second, in a time of 54:12. This relegated Liebi to second, and Cassinides to third.
In the women’s race, Singaporean teen Herlene Yu was sitting pretty in second place overnight but Suzie Bacon arrived ready for action. Her Wattbike cycle time was the third fastest of all the Sprint females, and three and a half minutes faster than Yu’s. Her swim time was slower than Yu’s by two minutes but their run times were almost identical, meaning Bacon took second position in 1:03:41. Rice earned the title of MetaSprint Series Triathlon champion for 2021, and Yu completed the podium finishing third in 1:04:51.
Despite all the changes the event received the gold stamp of approval from athletes. One athlete posted her excitement on Instagram “Hello, finish line! It’s been a while…”. How one sentence sums up the crowd’s sentiment exactly….
Sunday morning saw the Youth distance races. In what is always a fiercely competitive affair, Stella Crow won the 250m swim & 2.5km run distance race, coming first overall for both genders in a time of 15:16. In what was a stellar performance she finished one minute and 50 seconds ahead of second place Elo Kerleroux in 17:04, with Mirthe Gaytant finishing third in 17:42.
The boys Youth race saw Lucas Bateman score a narrow victory over Kobe Gaytant, winning the race in an impressive time of 15:17, with Gaytant finishing second in 15:19. Kyan Low finished third shortly after in 15:27.
A fitting finale for the weekend was the Discovery distance races held on Sunday afternoon consisting of a 10km cycle, 250m swim and 2.5km run, with many first-timers using the race to begin their multisport journey. In the men’s race it was Dylan Ang who led the way finishing first in 39:59. Law Shao Qiu took second place in 41:52, and Yu Han Chua took bronze in 42:00. The women’s race was won by Janel Susastra with a finish time of 47:47, with Delphine Bretaudeau second 48:36 and Cai Nan Kwan 49:33.
A big thank you to Sport Singapore, Sentosa, and Wattbike whose support made it possible to bring this event to life.
As many happy faces left the venue at the conclusion of their event, it was living proof that even in these Covid-19 times, the MetaSprint Series really is “a fun way to be a triathlete”. It was nice to bring triathlon back to Singapore.
Full results for the MetaSprint Triathlon can be found at www.metasprintseries.com/race-results/.
Look out for the launch of MetaSprint Series 2022 soon!