*** many thanks to Takamasa Makita for this race report ***
"The world's most beautiful triathlon" completed!
I jotted down some thoughts, if anyone is interested. Also, if anyone is thinking of going next year, I would be v happy to provide more tit-bits. Not as intense as the recent Kona reports, and heard about another tragic death in the UAE tri-community after my race, my thoughts to the family ....
Right, the report. My school English teachers would give me a ticking off, but I would like to start with the "PS".
1. Mauritius is not flat, not to be confused with the Maldives (which I did). Bike course includes 4kms of nasty climb, followed by 7kms of spicy downhill. Gear ratio is something one may want to consider and many people used their road bikes, not TT (... which I didn't).
2. The airport is not in the capital, Port Louis, but miles away on the east coast. Race is south west coast... Mauritius is surprisingly large, and has horrible traffic in places. We stayed at Black River, 20km north of the race start, it was perfect - more budget friendly (than the hotels recommended by the race website) and v friendly/personalised service (Marlin Creek Residence, highly highly recommended).
Am stating the obvious, but what the above says is prior research is essential before any race, choosing your hotel etc, especially if the race is not "main-stream", such as Phuket, and information is scarce (in Dubai).
These factors, however, added to the sense of adventure which is what I was after when I entered this race, having seen the idyllic tropical island photos on the race website a couple of years ago.
Everything did fall into place, as I did have the luxury of time, and I would also recommend staying a few days after the race (a bit of golf, some trail running and beach time).
The distance of the race is similar to the Phuket classic and is a 1.8km swim. 55km bike and 12km run. I finished in just over 4:20 which is about 2/3 down the finishers' list. Regardless of my position, I had immense fun throughout the day.
The swim is held in the lagoons off Le Morne beach, a world heritage site. You are swimming over some amazing coral and fish galore. Clarity is amazing, water beautiful and warm (no wet suit), it's like swimming in a big aquarium. Some places were a bit shallow so care is needed with the route you take, I scraped my hand on some coral a couple of times. Current is pretty strong too, sweeping you side-ways so sighting, and swimming taking into account the current was important.
The bike ride, after an introductory 9km, the climb takes you up Charmal pass (15 degree incline at places, TT suffered) before the descent through sugar cane fields and villages, then sweeping round the south coast line (was great with wind behind, TT kicked butt!). Throughout the course, the scenery is exciting and amazing, but it's not something you can appreciate until you get to the top of the hill! The roads are not closed for the race so you need to watch out for the traffic, gazillion pot-holes (but well marked by the organisers) and, even scarier, wondering dogs (one nearly took me out).
The run is a 4km x 3 loops, predominantly off-road on soft gravel, and about 900m running on the beach (in front of the 5 star lux hotel), which is pretty for the photos but not pretty for your legs (race organiser's words, very true). Again the scenery, especially at the back of the run route was fantastic - the massive rock formation overlooking Le Morne and the lagoon bay beneath it, simply amazing.
I would highly recommend this race - Mauritius is only 6+hours from Dubai. Each finisher is called out at the closing ceremony and a medal awarded by several of the pros racing, a friendly cosy well-organised race with only about 150 people racing.
Mauritius is beautiful. Haven't raced in enough places to say "the world's most beautiful" (according to website), but it must be up there. And some amazing food in Mauritius, we ventured out to some niche restaurants and cafes, just awesome.
This was my "B" race for Taupo NZ IM in March, but it's an incredible (and tough) race in itself, and I wouldn't want to insult the race by calling it that. I would like to come back and race it again, and with better bike gear ratio!! Here's a youtube clip of 2012 race.