Golden Triangle Triathlon: Course Review

By Vinnie Santana, coach, ironguides.net

The second edition of the Golden Triangle Triathlon was held on March 29th in Mae Sai, Thailand. Getting there is straight forward, you fly to Chiang Rai International airport, then either take a taxi or race shuttle to Mai Sai, which is forty five minutes away.

If you stay at one of the race hotels, the organizers provides shuttle buses for all your needs, race briefing and welcome party day before and to the race start, which is 53km away since the bike leg is a point to point course.

Swim 1.7km (down the Mekong river)

This will be your fastest swim split in a triathlon. The current in the Mekong is strong enough that you barely need to swim to still have a quick swim split. There wasn’t much of a gap in between the fast and slower swimmers, just make sure you keep an eye on the buoys to exit the water at the appropriate ramp, otherwise it will be a fight upstream to swim back!

Swim down the Mekong river make sit a very fast swim
Swimming down the Mekong river makes some very fast splits

The swim starts from a barge, the number of participants is small enough that you will have your own space. You are anchored from Laos and need to swim across and down the river to Chiang Saen in Thailand. Wetsuits were allowed.

Race start is from a barge anchored in Laos
Race start is from a barge anchored in Laos

BIKE 53k (Chiang Saen to Mai Sai)

The first third of the bike course is a small loop around Chiang Saen and includes heritage sites and you can also see Laos across the Mekong. Then you enter the main road to Mai Sai where the run transition is located. The course profile is mostly rolling hills but you will have one longer and steeper climb about half way in to the ride. Roads are controlled and in good quality and drafting isn’t allowed.

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There is one main climb on the course of about 12% gradient and 400m long


RUN (11km)

From Mae Sai, you will run towards the border with Myanmar, then into the country for most of the run, before exiting Myanmar and heading back to the finish line in Thailand.

There are several interesting aspects about the run course, including running straight past immigration, and the fact that the border town in Myanmar looks nothing like Thailand, instead it’s very crowded with hundreds, if not thousands of spectators lined up on the roads. On the way back to the finish line, you will run througha local market then there are two longer and steeper hills.

You do get to run through immigration – no passport needed!


Race Day Photos

Golden Triangle Triathlon: Best Photos

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