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Bit of a workout, then?

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No, Thailand’s first adventure duathlon was deliberately easy – but still tough

Everyone who participated in the first Probike Adventure Duathlon held recently at Bonanza Khaoyai deserved to be grinning from ear to ear. They’d just run for six kilometres, an ordeal interrupted by a mere 23km jaunt on mountain bikes.
Natee Chaisinthop of Probike, a major Thai bicycle importer, cheerily characterised the event as “a chance to have a try” at this brutal form of self-harm. 

 

Bit of a workout, then?


“Adventure duathlons are very popular overseas, usually combining running and cycling but also a wide range of other activities, such as running and shooting or cycling and shooting,” he said.

 

Bit of a workout, then?


“But it’s a new thing for Thailand, so the routes here aren’t too difficult – we wanted every participant to reach the finish line. The mountain bike trail has no dangerous stony stretches longer than 10 metres. You could call it a beginner’s duathlon to get everyone interested so they come back for the next one, which will be more challenging.” 

 

Bit of a workout, then?


“Beginners” isn’t quite the right word for the runners who had to clamber over big rocks and descend a 45-degree grade. That took skill and sharp wits. “But that’s the good thing about adventure activities – they sharpen your ability to make decisions and manage your time and energy,” Natee said.

 

Bit of a workout, then?


Time management began early in the morning when I joined the participants in every category at the start line. The first leg of the run began on concrete, on a road that was a little steep to get you huffing and puffing before veering off onto the trail. 

 

Bit of a workout, then?


The trail run was quite difficult thanks to steep steps and boulders stretching for 1.5km. The showoffs leapt over the rocks. The rest of us did some unexpected rock-climbing.

 

Bit of a workout, then?


Back at the transition point, we set off on mountain bikes along a gravel road, out of Bonanza Khaoyai and onto a 3km single track through a forest in the village of Khanong Phra. Here’s where the skills had to kick in, and then came an uphill pedal for 5.9km, then a rapid descent, flying like birds through fields of corn and sugarcane. 
There were several featured places of interest along the route, a chance to ease up on the otherwise constant mechanical legwork. Some riders wearily dismounted to stroll. Others dived into the next downhill stretch, thigh muscles enjoying a break. 
The second trail run ensued on the same course as before, utterly exhausting all the energy that remained. I somehow beat the three-hour time limit for people over 50, limping in after two hours and 19 minutes.

 

Bit of a workout, then?


Jantaraboon Kiangchaipaiphana, one of the showoffs I mentioned, won in the Male Open Class with a time of 1:12:49. He said he’s always loved cross-country events and two years ago achieved a personal best, running 42km. He cheats, though – he works as a trekking guide in Chiang Mai, taking tourists running, kayaking and biking. 
The Female Open title went to Warinthorn Phetpraphan with a time of 1:31:33. She “just happens to be” on the national cycling team. 

 

Bit of a workout, then?


“Trail running started booming a few years ago as the popularity of cycling began to fade,” said Jantaraboon. “Lots more people are turning to trail running now. The adventure races I enter are usually run on trails through the forest and over terrain and there are also kayaking and swimming – about five activities in all. I’m thrilled to be out in nature rather than on the road.
“This first Probike Adventure Duathlon had an interesting route for trail running with all the rocks, but a 3km run is too short. And the biking on the single track and offroad were interesting, but the stretch on the road was too long.”
 

Published : February 28, 2019

By : Kitchana Lersakvanitchakul THE NATION