Lombok is gearing up to host its first-ever International Triathlon next month. The event will be held over the weekend of 27 and 28 October, and is slated to become an important annual sporting fixture for the island.
The Lombok Triathlon comprises a 1.8 km swim, a 55 km bike ride and a 12 km run. The swim will take place in Senggigi Bay, off the beach in front of The Santosa. Event organisers chose the Bay, as the waters are naturally calm and the wide beachfront enables ease of viewing for spectators. After the swim, participants will have a chance to towel off and change clothes before embarking on a gruelling bike ride up the coast road north of Senggigi. Anyone who has driven the steep hills and hair-pin corners of this road will understand the level of fitness required to conquer this track!
At Pemenang, the cyclists will turn onto the road through the Pusuk Pass to tackle the challenging twists and turns through the Monkey Forest Road and the tropical forest. The course then continues through Gunungsari and Meninting, before returning to Senggigi. The Sheraton Senggigi Resort is the major sponsor for the event, and all start and finish points will be within the beautiful grounds of the Resort.
Finally, the fittest survivors will finish up with a 12 km run which travels north from the Sheraton and circumnavigates the beachfront at Kerandangan. It’s a compact 6 km course that allows for maximum spectator viewing, but has to be completed twice to make up the distance. The shaded coconut grove lining the beach should give some respite to participants, but there are a couple of steep hills to be negotiated before and after!
Triathlon organisers, TRIBOB, expect this year’s event to be limited in numbers to around one hundred participants, but estimate this figure will grow substantially in future years. The triathlon specialists have organised similar events in Bintan, Indonesia, as well as Malaysia and Vietnam previously, and have enjoyed great success on the international circuit, with this year’s event in Bintan attracting over 1000 participants.
When TRIBOB Race Division Manager, Matthe Vijverberg, and his team first came to Lombok, they thought the island was very beautiful and immediately recognised its great potential as a triathlon venue. With little traffic on the major coastal road and stunning natural landscapes, they decided Lombok would be their next choice for a triathlon destination. “We want to bring people to Lombok for the event, and also to show people what a special venue this is,” he said.
The Governor and local government agencies have also thrown their support behind this inaugural Lombok Triathlon. The Department of Tourism is working closely with the Lombok Hotels Association, the local Police Department, the Public Works Department, the Navy and even Customs officials, to ensure that the event goes smoothly. Navy personnel will be on hand during the swim in case of emergencies, the police will coordinate closure of roads and traffic control during the bike ride and run, and Customs will make special provisions for triathletes travelling into Lombok with racing bikes and equipment. The enthusiasm and cooperation demonstrated by the Lombok government, as well as TRIBOB and the Lombok Hotels Association, is truly commendable.
Perhaps the most noticeable benefit to Lombok as a result of the Triathlon is the long-awaited upgrading of the main road that runs along the coast north of Senggigi, and is the main artery to the north and to the Gili islands. Over the past few months, Public Works has carried out major upgrades to the road, repairing potholes and bad patches, and in some cases, resurfacing the bitumen in preparation for the biking event. The road is now a pleasure to drive on and will be much safer for triathlon participants. Much of the scrub and bushes that had grown rampant on the roadsides has been cleared and, at the turn of each corner, travellers are presented with magnificent views of the numerous stunning beaches and bays that make up this section of Lombok coastline.
Personally, I think the Triathlon is a great idea for Lombok as a destination… but I’ll also be cheeky and say that, if it keeps one of my favourite drives up the coast looking this good every year, it’s already a winner!
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