Lombok is the undiscovered treasure of the Indonesian Archipelago. The green island, a more natural version of neighbouring Bali, has all elements for adventure, with a rugged mountain range, superb white beaches, a spectacular volcano, great surf and dive sites and a unique Sasak culture.

And so the Emaar Lombok International Triathlon is a real adventure, weaving a triathlon consisting of the three sport disciplines swimming, cycling and running through the most stunning sites of Lombok Island.

The race is billed as Asia’s toughest triathlon thanks to Lombok’s hilly terrain, which also provides a beautiful backdrop for the swim start from Senggigi Beach. The clear skies and calm waters on Sunday 9 November 2008 presented the multinational field, representing 14 countries, with an almost surreal picture of serenity at the Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort as adrenaline rushed through the veins of the participants in anticipation of the big challenge ahead and the looming mountains in the background, a stark reminder of what awaited them later in the race.

Indonesia is one of the fastest growing tourism markets in Asia, but Lombok, despite its strong growth potential, has been hidden from the world. Not for much longer though…

Emaar Properties PJSC, title sponsor of the Lombok International Triathlon and one of the world’s largest real estate companies, is about to develop The Lombok Project, envisaged as a world-class residential and premium resort community spread over 1,200 hectares. The appeal of the beaches, dramatic coastlines and versatile topography of the Southern Lombok Coast will provide a natural setting for The Lombok Project, offering a 17 km natural waterfront supporting a marina, luxury residences, golf course and resorts to be operated by the world’s very best hospitality operators. With The Lombok Project, Emaar is a partner in the overall
socio-economic growth of the region. Anis Alhabshi, general manager of Emaar Indonesia explains: “We expect to create a self-sustaining economic environment with long-term growth prospects and our decision to sponsor the Emaar Lombok Triathlon takes us one step closer to this goal with the promotion of Lombok as a destination.”

The triathlon, which includes challenges over sea and land offers perfect synergies with Emaar’s project on Lombok, a resort which culminates in a fertile mingling of the two.

Triathlon is fast becoming one of the most popular mass-participation sports in Asia. More than just a sport, it embodies a lifestyle that combines athleticism, camaraderie and fun. The Lombok Triathlon has been designed to become an internationally-recognised, high-profile triathlon, set in the pristine natural environment of Lombok Island. 

The race was flagged off at 7am in front of the Santosa Resort by Lombok’s Governor. Australian Andrew Moullin emerged from the sea with a comfortable 3 minutes margin over second place swimmer Michael Outhred. However the testing 300 meters beach run transition along Senggigi beach and on through the green grounds of Sheraton Senggigi Beach Resort slowed Andrew’s progress allowing the field to gain time on him.

Athletes were then faced with what is considered the toughest Triathlon bike course in Asia, taking in the 55km loop around Mount Pusuk and on the Coastal road, it was 2007 runner up Sebastien Calle who was stamping his authority on the race by overtaking the leaders on Mount Pusuk. However drama was soon to unfold, as Sebastien took a corner too fast and fell. Sustaining minor injuries, he was unable to continue the race and was forced to retire. 

This allowed Roger Steinkrug, a strong cyclist traveling from Western Australia for his first Emaar Lombok International Triathlon, to post the fastest bike time.

Incidents were few, thanks to recent road upgrading that many of the athletes praised for the quality of the surface and the scenery included a pass through the lush Monkey Forrest and Lombok’s famed views of the Indian Ocean.

With the temperatures beginning to soar, a challenging 12km run around the Senggigi area awaited the athletes. As Tribob’s Medical Director Dr. Low Wye Mun commented, “for unprepared participants this is an experience of suffering, both physically and mentally. The 10km on never ending climbs follow by steep descent truly test their endurance, strength, nutrition planning and most of all mental stamina.” He added: “Extra fluids and extra energy supply: that is the call of the day!”

Striding out of transition in 2nd place, 28 years old British athlete James Aesson, looked strong and determined to overcome the deficit on Roger Steinkrug. As the two lap run course became more populated with athletes starting the run leg, James made his move and took the lead, a position that he would not relinquish as he came home first with the time of 3:24:30.

30 years old Australian Michael Outhred made up the time he lost on the bike leg to finish 2nd with a time of 3:27:52. Third position went to the 2007 defending Indonesian champion, Kardi, 19, from Mataram, who once again took home the first Indonesian prize of Rp. 5 million.

A unique sense of achievement

The growth of triathlon is related to an increasing desire, specifically in Asia, to become healthier and more active. Triathlon races in Asia attract predominantly novice athletes but health-conscious people. Interestingly high corporate achievers feed the growth of the sport.

For amateur athletes that make up the thousands of average competitors, there is no realistic probability of a monetary prize, no promise of fame; but the reward is more profound.

Triathlon is about exploring personal athletic abilities, doing something one always thought was impossible, about discovering your limits and then setting goals to surpass them.

Due to the fact that triathlon is made up of three disciplines, the room for improvement is nearly unlimited, independently of fitness level of age. With moderate but consistent training, month after month, year after year, recreational triathletes tend to get better and faster.

High achievers seem to find in triathlon an endless way to quench their thirst for a greater challenge.

Judging by the enthusiasm of the athletes at the Emaar Lombok International Triathlon Awards dinner and by the post-race comments of UK-based race champion James Easson who has raced all over the globe: “the Lombok Triathlon is my all time favourite: tough and very scenic!”, the Emaar Lombok International Triathlon seems to be a must-do for athletes who are also nature-lovers!