to this classic event. Karen Smyers was the women’s winner of the first Laguna Phuket Triathlon and she returned last year to celebrate the 24th anniversary of her win.
There are no longer any elephant escorts, but the race continues as a classic test of multisport fitness. The day starts with a 1.8 km swim, which includes 1.3 km of swimming in the ocean, followed by a short run up the beach and into a lagoon for the final 500 m. The water is typically quite warm (especially in the lagoon, where the water temperature can be over 30 C), so wetsuits aren’t an option. That’s followed by a 50-km bike that starts off flat and technical as the course winds its way through many of the local villages. The course gets increasingly more “rolling” until the final 10 km, which features three short, but very steep climbs – one actually includes an 18-degree pitch. The final 5 km are relatively flat as the athletes return to the resort to start the run.
With air temperatures well into the 30s and extremely high humidity, the 12 km run is a challenge, no matter how fit you are. The twoloop run course features numerous aid stations, all stocked with lots of ice and drinks, which help get the athletes through the tough event.
As challenging as the race might be, though, it is well worth the trip, especially if you can take some time to enjoy the resort. Launched in 1987 as the “first integrated resort in Asia,” Laguna Phuket is made up of 1,000 acres of landscaped tropical grounds with a number of picturesque lagoons. There’s three kilometres of beautiful white sandy beach front, a golf course and numerous other sporting and leisure activities. The highlight of a stay at Laguna Phuket has to be one of the seven different hotel or villa options. We stayed at the Outrigger Resort, which featured a huge