Ironman Langkawi: Final Prep and Raceday Guide to Malaysia


By Vinnie Santana – triathlon coach at www.ironguides.net

Ironman Langkawi used to be a traditional event in the SEA triathlon calendar, it was the only official full distance Ironman in the region from 1999 to 2010, when WTC (World Triathlon Corporation) announced the race would no longer happen in 2011. After a four year hiatus, Ironman Langkawi was back on the calendar in 2014, 2015 and this year will be the last edition of this race, taking place on November 12th.

Swim Course
Swim Course

The convenient location with minimal time zone difference and little traveling makes it the preferred Ironman event for many Asian based triathletes. The race however used to be known as “The toughest show on earth” due to the combination of its extreme conditions.

The article below will help you tackle the race day challenges and make Ironman Langkawi an enjoyable and successful experience.

Traveling & Accommodation

Flying to Langkawi

Langkawi is only a quick flight away from Kuala Lumpur, so you are likely to have several options of flights to KL, but some guidelines are always useful.

Avoid the extremes: Unless you don’t have the option, no super early flights or very late ones. You don’t want to change much of your sleeping hours a few days before the race.

Take food with you: Airport food is often low quality, quantity and you don’t want to eat much of a junk food on race week as this can damage your confidence

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Consider taking the whole day off training on your travel day: The usual airport routine is already stressful enough, if you are traveling 1-3 days out, consider taking the whole day off on the same day you travel.


An ironman is just a long training day with aid stations and lots of training buddies. On race day you want to stick to your usual routine as much as you can control without stressing about it.

Bring your food: Things that you like to have and is usually difficult to find at places. This could be your own coffee, fruits, and snacks.

Consider the option of paying a little extra for comfort: either by renting a car or staying in a nicer hotel. You’ve spent so much effort and cash on your training that a couple hundred bucks extra for the ironman will be a great investment. You don’t want to be walking up and down in the heat then sleeping in a not so comfortable place for the nights leading into your race

Night Before: Most athletes find challenging sleeping the night before. The good news is that it doesn’t matter much, if you are fit and well rested, adrenalin will take care of the rest. In fact just by thinking that the night before doesn’t matter much, should help you sleep better, but if you don’t carry on knowing that it won’t matter much.


The days leading to the race

Stay indoors

This is also a KEY rule for race day. Don’t go out and train under the sun in the 3 days leading into the race, stay inside in the AC, train on early/late hours or indoors.

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On training, unless you can’t run early in the mornings or evenings, you may want to do run inside on the treadmill, especially if it’s a KEY run session for you. Running at noon won’t see much of a quality session, instead you will be slowed down by the heat BEFORE your legs get the appropriated stimulus.


Final Taper

The taper of an ironman race is all about maintenance of your fitness, while you freshen up. Do not stop training completely, your body will just shut down and tighten up. Understand also that INTENSITY is what will dictate your fatigue levels and not volume, going long and slow shouldn’t be a problem at this stage. Follow the plan guidelines.

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