Ironman 70.3 Dubai 2021 Race Diary by Arnav

Hey Guys!

This is Arnav Mukherjee, a budding age group Triathlete from Delhi. I am delighted to share my experience of my latest IM 70.3 Event held in Dubai. This race is kind of a second home to me and I am sure to go back again next year.


Since we went into lockdown last year and most of the events got cancelled around the world due to uncertainty with safety-related to Covid-19, it was indeed difficult to imagine racing. Dubai, as I already have raced here a year prior, provides one of the most sorted race environments in terms of support and execution. The health protocol in the UAE made sure that with proper guidelines to follow, we would be able to race indeed.
I and a few other athletes from Delhi registered for the event in February as soon as it started.


With strict covid protocols, we had to get our Covid-19 RT PCR test done before the journey and on arrival as well. As we had planned our accommodation near the race start point, we remained in the hotel on the day of the arrival day till we got the results for covid test results as negative.

As we need to carry our equipment, especially the bike with us, I would personally recommend traveling by Airlines like Air India or Emirates where our bike bags or boxes are not charged separately as sports/oversized baggage. We did both and saved a lot within our baggage limits.

Unlike any regular year IM event in Dubai, this time the event was held a month later than usual. Hence, it was a bit warmer than what I experienced in 2020. So, we did our best with an available couple of days to acclimatize the best we can.

We checked out the swim course on both practice days. Day one was alright as the water was calm however on day 2 we had to face some choppy waters. Due to lockdown, swimming was the least practiced discipline as we could only swim 4-5 times before we left for Dubai. We kept our fingers crossed and hoped for the best on the race day.

In Picture: Arnav Mukherjee in pursuit to become an IRONMAN.


As per the safety guidelines requirement, large gatherings weren’t allowed, and hence one of the main highlights of this event, pre-race day dinner, didn’t happen. It was expected, missed but required. The race expo was also low-key this time with very few stalls of different brands on the display. I must say that the organizers did a fantastic job of making sure that the athletes were properly informed and taken care of while in the expo to the finish line at the end.

I got my bike assembled and tuned up for the race at the expo only. This time I had a special weapon with me.


It was a rolling start with 4 athletes released but with a gap of 5 seconds in between. We had our mask till just before getting into the water. Finally, we were about to race after a long wait. The swim course was simple in terms of navigation. The water was calm and the whole swim went smoothly. After getting out of the water I took my time through transition 1 before getting on the saddle for the next phase of the race


Dubai is known for the fast bike course. Last year I finished the same course on my road bike only. I knew I could do better If can have a better ride. Hence, I invested in a triathlon bike last year in October and got myself a Quintana Roo PR-5. I spent a good amount of time on the saddle and hence got quite confident with the handling of the bike. However, to get the best out of this new setup, I also got a Black Inc Zero disc wheelset.

The Quintana Roo PR5 with the Black Inc ZERO.  

This investment and the whole process of getting fit on the bike over a period of time was a process and I learned a lot about both, the machine and rider, that is me.

Coming back to the race, after discussion with my coach, who was there with me and others not just to support but race as well, planned the whole bike route in advance in terms of Hydration and nutrition. I was supposed to take only 2 stops/breaks, one at the U-turn point and then again at the 70 Km mark. However, as mentioned, it was indeed hot and the whole planning went for a toss as the temperature soared to 35 degrees celsius and I had to replenish the fluids within the first hour of the ride only. The rest of the ride went without any further hiccups.

I learned a lot again from this experience, primarily to develop skills on catching up the hydration without stopping at all. This could save some more time in future races. I was still able to get my personal best timing on the Half Iron distance course.


Well, cannot claim that I was completely prepared for what was about to come. The temperature went higher than 38 degrees Celsius and it was just 11 AM. So, I made a wise decision and took it easy. I made sure that I was properly hydrated during my Transition 2. I had planned to run the first 13 odd km without any stop, however watching some other athletes using the ice from hydration points to keep their temperature in check, I did the same at the 5 Km mark and kept it ongoing. The track here is mostly synthetic and hence has a bit of bounce to the same. At least that what I felt. It was indeed the hardest leg of the race primarily due to temperature.


‘You are an Ironman’
One of the best feelings is to live those final seconds on the red carpet at the finish line. We all savour the same and promise to make it back to it again soon.

I achieved my personal best here and shed more than 1 hour from my last race time in 2020. I couldn’t be happier.

I am all set to race in 2 more races this year, given they happen. We are back into another lockdown, but we’ll get to the other side very soon.


Arnav Mukherjee has his own construction company set up mainly in the Northern part of India since 2004. This requires him to travel extensively and hence he is able to squeeze in 2-3 sessions a week only at most. He started his journey into triathlons in 2017 with shorter distance events initially and then gradually moving up to Half Iron distance.

Last year he participated in his First official IM event in Dubai only. Since then he has come a long way and is very much keen to keep up this tempo.

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1 comment

  • Nice read Arnav. Wishing you success for further triathlons as well.


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