MetaMan, Southeast Asia’s only iron-distance triathlon, is back with a US$150,000 bang in 2013. The success of last September’s inaugural event has resulted in a huge increase in prize money from US$60,000 to a staggering US$154,000 for this year’s race on August 31, making it one of the most lucrative events on the global pro circuit. On Singapore’s doorstep, MetaMan actually takes place on the nearby Indonesian island of Bintan. The race returns to the Nirwana Gardens resort, where the organisers MetaSport have been running the hugely successful Bintan Triathlon festival and the Tour de Bintan bike race for many years.
The size of the prize purse is expected to bring some of the top names in the sport on the start line come August 31, with both the male and female winners receiving US$40,000.
Prize money for the pros is also up for grabs in the MetaMan half-distance race this year. In addition to the draw of the $3,000 winner’s cheque, this race provides for a perfect tune-up for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii in October; the hot and humid conditions are similar to what will be found in Hawaii.
Sure to be back to defend his MetaMan crown is last year’s men’s champ, Brett Carter of Australia. His success provided a fantastic story for the inaugural event as he had only turned professional a few months earlier, given a rare opportunity to join coach Brett Sutton’s crack TBB pro squad. The rookie won the race in style, with fellow team mate Aussie Aaron Farlow pulling out on the run, leaving Freddie Croneborg of Sweden to claim second place, with the Czech Petr Vabrousek rounding out the major podium spots in third.
The women’s race was thrilling as it featured a dramatic come-from-behind victory for Candice Hammond. Ironman legend Belinda Granger had a huge lead after the bike leg but the Canadian Hammond chipped away steadily and eventually passed Granger on the penultimate run lap. The Aussie held on for second ahead of Erika Csomor of Hungary in third.
The ever-popular Granger loved the experience and will be back for more.
“What a wonderful event MetaMan was. I am so glad I was a part of the inaugural race. It was everything I hoped it would be – tough, honest, challenging and loads of fun. The MetaSport team delivered a quality event and one that I am sure to return to again next year. Bravo MetaSport!” Granger said.
Vabrousek was equally as effusive with his praise.
“MetaMan is a great race for anyone who wants to enjoy fantastic courses in friendly atmosphere, where services provided to athletes are exceptional. Crystal-clear, warm-water, ocean swim, undulating bike through the jungle on perfect roads and run through the resort, where your family can cheer you straight from the sandy beach. I can’t wait to come back with my wife and kids in 2013,” he said.
With the pros spreading the good word about MetaMan, a big jump in age-group participation is also expected for both the full and half races this year. The level of interest so far indicates the amateur field will at least double in size.
What can participants expect? Well, these races don’t have the “iron” moniker for nothing. They are supposed to be tough. While the MetaMan course is definitely challenging it is also achievable and gives its athletes as much as it takes from them. The 3.8km swim takes place in the clear waters of the South China Sea and while the 90km bike course (done twice) has some rolling sections, none of the gradients are super steep and the scenery is truly breathtaking. Forest, jungle, village and beach views abound and the road surface is smooth and fast.
The unique run course provides both physical and mental relief to the athletes once they exit T2. The 7km course is situated completely within the Nirwana grounds and roughly half of each lap is run on the soft-packed Wakatobi jungle track, which as well as providing shade from the afternoon sun, also gives weary legs a break from pounding on concrete. And crucially for the athletes’ spirits, as they run six laps of the course, spectator support is never far away.
The facilities for the athletes and their families at Nirwana are second to none and make the MetaMan the perfect destination race. Aside from recceing and racing the bike leg, there is no need to ever leave the picturesque resort. The start, finish, registration and race expo are all minutes walk away from reception, and five different types of accommodation are available, ranging from family villas and beachside chalets to luxury suites. Restaurant choices abound and pre/post-race massages can be enjoyed at the resort spa or in your own room. A range of water sports are available at the Water Sports Centre or you can just lie on the golden beaches and soak up the sun. A kids club and the huge resort pool it sits beside makes sure the little ones won’t get bored either.
Bintan is just an hour’s ferry ride from Singapore, and the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal is right next to Changi International Airport making for easy transfers for the athletes, both professional and amateur. With Nirwana Gardens being part of the special Bintan Resorts area, clearing immigration is a breeze and Nirwana is just a 10-minute shuttle ride away.
Visit www.metamanbintan.com for full details of the race and to register.