The announcements were beautifully coordinated by the dutiful DJ.
“Orange cappers, remember these four words: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY” (*Listen to your heart*- Roxette)
“If something doesn’t feel right, slow down, take it easy” (*Take it eaaaasssyy*- Eagles)
“And if it doesn’t get better, don’t be shy to take a break or even stop” (*STOP! In the name of love*- The Supremes)
“Lastly, on the bike course, keep to the left” (*To the left, to the left*- Beyoncé)
It was hot. Already at 9.40am, the sun beat down on the group of orange-capped swimmers lined up to start the Singapore Sprint Triathlon. To my dismay, the announcer added that due to some medical attention out on the water where the men had already begun their race, we would have to “wait a while” (an expression, I was learning, meant to describe less time compared to its common use in the US). From where we waited on the beach, the medical boat was visible on the murky, light blue choppy waters beside the triangular swim course outlined against an endless backdrop of container ships. Within a few minutes, we were given the All Clear and plunged into the warm, salty ocean.
While I relished the familiar atmosphere and positive energy of the race, it was thrilling to experience the differences to races I’d done in Germany and the US. Between markers, tattoos and no-numbers, I’d encountered a variety of methods for body marking for example, but getting stamped like a horse (with ink) was definitely new! I’d also never encountered a swim course that had a lane line strung along its entire length! That’s a very long lane line! Then, when I got to the bike course, it took an entire lap to get comfortable with riding on the left, but passing on the right, while maneuvering over several speed humps. The most fun I had though was on the run course. At five different water stations, I had the privilege of spitting my gurgled water and throwing my empty plastic cup directly on the Singaporean street. Nowhere else did that feel so cool!
While this race included many novelties, those mentioned above seem very minor compared with the sobering news I received later in the day. The medical emergency that delayed my wave’s start resulted in the death of a 42-year-old Briton, who drowned. Besides the mild guilt I felt for my impatience and for racing and having fun during such tragedy, despite being uninformed, this also put into question the sense of safety and security I have developed at triathlon events until I learned that he had also experienced a heart attack during the swim.
Nonetheless, this was an enriching and fun event to participate in and even though it took place on the other side of the globe, I felt right at home!