Started 25 years ago by International Management Group as a “made for television sporting event” to promote the Laguna Phuket Resort to the world, the Laguna Phuket Triathlon remains an iconic bucket list event, routinely attracting a strong field of both pros and age group competitors.
Dubbed the “Race of Legends,” the event has a storied history and has attracted some of the world’s best athletes – amongst the list of former champions include: Paula Newby-Fraser, Michellie Jones, Mike Pigg, Karen Smyers, Simon Lessing, Craig Alexander, Jan Frodeno and Melissa Hauschildt. Canadians have also featured as stars at the event – Carol Montgomery and Samantha McGlone were both multiple winners of the race.
The race features unique race distances – a 1.8 km swim that starts in the Adaman Sea, then finishes with a short swim across a lagoon to get to T1, followed by a challenging 50 km bike that includes a couple of climbs with 18% grades and a 12 km relatively flat run through the resort. The year, to celebrate the 25th anniversary, organizers added a “25 for 25” sprint race that included a 500 m swim, an 18.5 km bike and 6 km run.
This year’s race was won by Sweden’s Fredrik Croneborg and Australian Annabel Luxford, who both managed to overcome the tough fields and even tougher conditions to add their names to the illustrious list of former champions. It was an emotional win Croneborg, who decided to move to Laguna Phuket after competing here for the first time a decade ago. The Swede lives just a few kilometers from the course and used his intimate knowledge of the race course to pull clear of the rest of the men’s field on the bike and hold on through the steamy run to take the win. Second went to Kona runner-up Bart Aernouts, who managed to get passed Germany’s Per Van Vlerken in the closing kilometers.
Luxford and Great Britain’s Emma Pallant were the first two out of the water, but by 5 km into the bike ride it was Australia’s Dimity-Lee Duke, who, like Croneborg, lives in Laguna Phuket, in the lead. Luxford missed a turn early in the bike and gave up her four-minute lead on Duke, while Pallant flatted early on and had to wait for an official to return to transition and get her a new wheel (a process that took more than an hour).
Luxford got herself back on track, though, and managed to get past Duke and ride herself to a couple of minute lead into T2. Out on the run course she never looked back and cruised to the win. Duke would hang on for second, with Hungary’s Anna Eberhardt, who lives in Singapore, but spends a lot of time training in Phuket, finishing third.
Results: 25th Laguna Phuket Triathlon (18 Nov)
1 Fredrik Croneborg (SWE) 00:24:24 01:08:52 00:46:09 02:21:39
2 Bart Aernouts (BEL) 00:26:45 01:10:36 00:43:36 02:23:28
3 Per van Vlerken (DEU) 00:24:28 01:10:46 00:46:37 02:24:02
4 Massimo Cigana (ITA) 00:28:29 01:11:58 00:44:23 02:27:00
5 Stuart Hayes (GBR) 00:24:22 01:16:09 00:48:24 02:31:04
Women Swim Bike Run Overall
1 Annabel Luxford (AUS) 00:25:28 01:22:09 00:49:43 02:39:50
2 Dimity Lee-Duke (AUS) 00:29:47 01:19:13 00:50:25 02:42:08
3 Anna Eberhardt (HUN) 00:32:36 01:21:03 00:50:06 02:46:21
4 Sylvia Gehnboeck (AUT) 00:31:05 01:19:44 00:57:38 02:51:07
5 Beate Goertz (DEU) 00:34:09 01:22:03 00:54:39 02:53:59
While Canadians didn’t feature in the pro results, there were a number of age group athletes who competed (see chart below). Leading the way for the Canadian contingent was Calgary’s April Rice, who lives in Singapore with her husband Todd and their two children. Rice finished sixth overall and won her age group.
Look for more of our coverage from the 25th Anniversary Laguna Phuket Triathlon here on TriathlonMagazine.ca