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CHANGI – Over 1450 athletes coverged on Sunday the 2nd of May, for the third and final race in the Tribob Singapore Sprint Series (SSS). The quiet end of Changi Beach Park was turned into a bustling village of lycra-clad people of all ages milling about and soaking up the morning atmosphere of anticipation at the multiple triathlon wave flag-offs that were to commence – starting from 8am.
“There is definitely an increase compared to the previous year,” gushed Jasmin Ng, marketing manager for Tribob, the juggernaut commercial coaching and events outfit that has established itself as the leader in taking endurance sports to the masses regionally. The growing popularity of multisport in Singapore underscores the high demand for events like the SSS, which are considered much more accessible and ‘do-able’ to the average weekend warrior or family who just wants to get out for the weekend of fun and challenge.
The crowds were swelling in good number even before sunrise as the first wave’s start time approached. Early waves were somewhat hampered on the 750m swim by the low tide. Many athletes, particularly those in the ‘Elite’ category, took to ‘dolphin diving’ – a mixture of leaping and butterfly stroking – in order to propel themselves forward in the murky waist-high water. However, by the time the mini and junior/kids races got underway (with participants having to swim only 300m and 100m respectively), the water had risen to more cooperative levels.
Once out of the water, participants in the sprint triathlon had to negotiate a flat, two-lap bike course of 20km. The course itself was on a totally closed-off stretch of a favourite route for Singapore’s roadies – Changi Coast Road. With the heat climbing and a light cross wind buffeting the competitors, this stretch proved to be the segment of the race where key moves would have to be made, particularly by athletes who were strong on the bike.
To finish off the race, sprint participants ran two loops of a 2.5km course through the shaded, picturesque park connector of Changi Beach Park, escaping the onslaught wrought by the sun as it climbed higher in the sky.
The usual hangout for camping families and overnight fishermen, Changi Beach Park was transformed into an arena of battle where some of Singapore’s top amateur athletes went head-to-head with each other in fast-paced, anaerobic competition.
In the men’s sprint race, Sebastien Calle trumped Scott Larsen 1:04:02 finish time with a blazing 1:02:51 finish. Arnaud Selukov rounded up the top three finishing 30 seconds behind Larsen. Each of these men were also winners in their respective age groups of 30-39, 20-29 and 40-49.
For the women, Nicole Gallagher punched out a convincing 1:13:14 finish time ahead of fellow 30-39 age grouper Natasha Buckley, who was 1 minute and 43 seconds back. Buckley caught up and just edged out young upstart Lauren Nicole Smith (16-19 age group) by two seconds in an exciting sprint finish for the runner up spot.
The Singapore Sprint Series has grown from strength to strength over the past two years since its inception. It now enjoys ample support in the form of sponsorships – such as drink brand names Lichtenauer and Rosbacher, and computer manufacturer Hewlett Packard. The latter company, for instance, set up monitors on-site for participants to view their results live as finishers streamed back to race HQ throughout the morning. More crucially, it retains a family-friendly, carnival-like conduct that welcomes all punters, and is especially popular amongst Singapore’s active expatriate crowd.
And what about the next time the series returns? The day after the triathlon, this reporter went online to check out the SSS website, and saw an update announcing the dates for the 2011 series. Registration has already opened for this, with an early bird period valid up till 30 May whereby registration can be completed at 2010 fees before next year’s fee structure kicks in.