Bali International Triathlon Course Review
By Vinnie Santana, triathlon coach at ironguides.net & AsiaTRI contributor
The Bali International Triathlon, now on its 8th edition, is becoming one of the most popular destination races in Asia. The race was held on October 25th 2015 and had over 700 athletes from 31 different countries.
Getting to Bali and more specifically, Jimbaran Bay is very easy since the International airport offers direct flights to most of the main cities in Asia or it’s only a couple hours away from Kuala Lumpur, the AirAsia hub. Once at the airport, it takes around twenty minutes from the airport to Jimbaran Bay.
The organizers offered three different events, the Olympic Distance race (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run), the sprint distance (750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run) and a 5k fun run, this makes it very beginner friendly and also a destination event, combining a short holidays in Bali with a triathlon race on Sunday morning is what attracted most athletes to the event.
While Bali is known for some of the best surfing spots in the world, the swim takes place in Jimbaran Bay, and naturally as a bay, offers protection from any swell and the ocean is a large swimming pool in Jimbaran Bay.
The one loop swim provides plenty of space for all swimmers, the time difference in between the sprint and Olympic distance race start also avoids any traffic. The course is well marked with large buoys, the swim at Bali Triathlon is a safe and enjoyable experience
The course is flat with some very gentle rolling hills for the sprint distance race and has around 10km steeper hills with a few shorter and more aggressive hills for the Olympic Distance event, but nothing extremely challenging or that would require special gearing. The longest climb is no longer than a kilometer long.
Another important issue regarding the bike course is traffic and safety. Bali is well known for its intense traffic and tight roads and with the triathlon event you get the Bali experience. The organizers managed to close completely to traffic, one lane for the first and last 5km that are on a busier main road, while this makes it car and motorbike free, the lane is very narrow, and won’t fit in more than 3 bikes next to each other, so overtaking requires caution.
The rest of the ride happens close to some of the international hotels with several temples and art pieces on the road, the traffic is much quieter and at times the road gets wider, making it a safer experience, but traffic is controlled and not fully closed.
When it comes to Bali, or most other destination events in South East Asia, there is no such a thing as closed traffic, there is always the risk of a local scooter ending up on the race track, so always ride safe. There is plenty of marking indicating the way, staff and police to assist with controlling the traffic and also aid stations for refueling. The organizers are doing the best in their control to keep this a safe bike course and they have done a great job in the 2015 edition
The highlight of the race is the run course, albeit very challenging it offers a fun and entertaining experience to the athletes due to the variety of scenery, road surface and elevation.
The first and last five hundred meters are on sand on the main beach in Jimbaran Bay, from there you run past of the luxury resorts before hitting the main climb that is around eight hundred meters long and a moderate gradient (around 4% average), if you are racing the sprints it’s basically a U-turn then run back to the finish line, athletes doing the Olympic Distance, will then run over some rolling hills again going past temples and ocean view before completing the U-turn.
The run course is much quieter in terms of traffic and the organizers offers plenty of aid stations to keep the athletes fueled.
Bali is certainly a very unique, challenging, enjoyable course!
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