For the many triathlete hopefuls in the Malaysian multi-sport scene, preparing for their first Ironman is no easy feat. The event is not an easy one, featuring a gruelling multi-challenge of swim-bike-run, in that specific order and without any break in between. The name coined for the competition is the first hint of what participants are in for when they sign up for such an event, regardless of where it is held in the world.
Enter Rupert Chen, Malaysia’s fastest Ironman of 2016, and the most well known face in the local triathlon scene. He’s considered the best of the best, and has garnered respect from the entire community for his achievements, that earned him the coveted position of Ironman Ambassador in both Malaysia and Asia. Right after our feature article on the irrepressible Terengganu native, he promptly invited us to join the Port Dickson Triathlon Clinic in collaboration with triathlon legend Uncle Chan from Triathlon Malaysia.
For those who aren’t familiar with these clinics, you may wonder about the need to pay to take part in such an event, when there are many people who can just as easily train on their own. Essentially, the clinic simulates a real triathlon, in the sense that it is also a swim-bike-run private training session organised in a safe manner, with lots of advice and tips thrown in. It is designed to ensure that athletes can execute the training as well as they can, to prepare themselves for the specific demands of race day.
The clinic has been particularly useful for would-be triathletes to reduce their margin for error when competing in the event proper. “If you join the clinic and treat it as a race day, you would have noticed issues such as nutrition, weakness or skills which you can try and fix beforehand to enhance your race day results,” explains Rupert.
“We started with warm up stretch, then open water swim for 30 minutes. Then a bike ride of 40km and optional 20km shorter distance. We finished with a 30-minute run; the distance is up to the participants. Also we provided bike racks and baskets which athletes can use to practice their transition skills which is a very important skill for race day.”
He’s truly in his element at the clinic, utilising his loud hailer to push or encourage the participants, to swim farther, pedal harder, or run faster. At times he even sounds the alarm to spur them on, and it obviously has the intended effect. As the founder or RCCoaching, Rupert’s experience helps pinpoint issues or weaknesses that the participants will not see for themselves. He’s clearly got a good eye for such errors and has a knack for coaching, and his tri clinics are in pretty high demand. Around 200 athletes joined the clinic, double the number of slots originally opened up. Athletes were as young as 11, and up to 60 years old.
But perhaps the key element of the triathlon clinic is the opportunity to swim the open waters off Port Dickson with the safety kayaks and buoys, which helps many people overcome any fears they have to avoid panicking on the day of the event. But this does not mean all the clinics are held in the popular resort town.
“We have limited open water swim in Klang Valley, and PD is the nearest and most convenient location. This also gave athletes the chance to test the course,” Rupert says, referring to the Port Dickson International Triathlon 2018. “We have conducted clinics at Kinabalu, Chiang Mai and Langkawi previously. We have also been invited to conduct a triathlon clinic in Taiping and Penang.”
Training sessions like the Port Dickson Triathlon Clinic is now considered crucial for an athlete’s preparation for triathlon events. Speaking to a number of participants afterwards, many said it was instrumental in helping them condition both their minds and bodies for other events, multi-sport or otherwise.
*Head to https://www.facebook.com/RupertTriFamily/ for more information on RCCoaching’s upcoming triathlon clinics.