Ironman70.3 DUBAI 2020 Race Diary by Sheetal

Hello People!

I am Sheetal Bambulkar, an Age-Group Triathlete from Mumbai. I feel so happy to write the first Race Diary for Mastermind's blog, and I feel even happier to share my experience of Ironman70.3 Dubai, the race that left with me so many beautiful memories for the years to come.

So lets begin! Why did I choose this race?

A : Honestly, this race was my revenge for Ironman70.3 Marrakech, where I could not perform to the best of my abilities, and I really believed I am capable of much better. I was in a good training phase thanks to my coach Viv Menon in Mumbai, so I thought of going for Ironman70.3 Dubai and got determined to give my best in this race. Also, I did not want to travel to a destination which is too far from India. Dubai ticked all the right boxes, and looked like a fantastic place to race a Triathlon.

Let me give you a brief Travel Tip for this race.

I travelled from Mumbai, on Wednesday (the Race is always on Friday in Dubai!). I felt it was quite a rushed experience. I would honestly suggest you to fly on Monday or Tuesday, especially if its your first race. You can have some fantastic practice swim and bike sessions with the TRI DUBAI group, they are very helpful and guide you to settle well for the race. The practice swims take place in the race location itself, and the AL QUDRA cycle track really helps you to get the gist of the bike course and wind directions, I will totally recommend all athletes to have a cycling practice there.

I took an Air India Express flight, which comes cheaper than Air India, and they also did not charge anything extra for the Bike Bag. Only on the return flight from Dubai to Mumbai, I was charged 45 Dirhams by the Dubai Airport as their fees for Oversize Baggage handling, which you can pay by Cash or Card. I heard that if you fly Emirates Airlines, the Dubai Airport does not charge you these 45 Dirhams.

For accommodation, I had booked the IBIS AL Barsha Hotel, which was 10 kms away from the Race Venue. From the Airport, I took an Innova Cab, easily stuffing my bike bag behind, and it took me around 45 minutes and 100 Dirhams to reach the Hotel. The Hotel is very race friendly, allowing the bicycles in the room without any hassle. And to travel between the hotel and race venue, I always used local cabs, easily available and charging around 20-25 Dirhams per trip.

Athlete Briefing and Registration/Check-In Details

I reached the hotel on Wednesday evening around 4.45 pm, and the Race briefing was at 6.30 pm. The Athlete registration took less than 5 minutes, it was swift and smooth. They asked us to collect the Transition bags the next day, i.e. Thursday. The Athlete Check-In was at Jumeirah Public Beach, and from there it was just a 5 to 10 minute walk to Jumeirah Beach Resort where the Athlete Briefing session was held. I will recommend everyone to complete the Athlete Check-in first and then attend the Briefing session, otherwise you might have to stand in a queue for the Briefing session. If you have an Athlete band on your wrist already, then the entry is quick and easy.

Athlete Briefing was excellent! It was such a proud moment for us, that the 5th largest contingent at Ironman 70.3 Dubai was from India! We cheered loud and had good fun with the big Indian contingent athletes. The dinner in the Athlete briefing had good Veg as well as Non-veg options, ending the day with a great meal!

Actually, the food options near my hotel were also great, and the biggest blessing was to have a supermarket at a very walkable distance from my hotel, which helped me with all my basic food and water needs.

Let me talk a little about the Pre-Race Day (Thursday)

I went for a practice swim at around 10 am, the beach was marked safe for swim, with quite a few number of athletes testing the waters. I had a good practice with my wetsuit. After your practice swim, try and dry out your wetsuit at the beach itself, it can dry up quick in the sun, compared to your hotel room.

I also took my bike along, and my friend was holding the bike for me while I was having my practice swim. After the swim, I just took a small spin on my bike, and all seemed okay. Due to my rushed schedule, I never got a chance to have a practice bike session in Dubai. After a quick spin, I checked in my bike, and many people suggested me there to keep the tyre pressure a little low, since the afternoon heat can cause tyre burst. The tyre pressure can be again filled up on the race day morning easily. They handed over the race timing chip after the bike check-in.

After the check-in, if you wish to do a short run on the beach, it can be done, since the run course is right along the beach.

I attended the Expo for some time, and I can tell you, the Expo was really well stocked up and quite sufficient. You could buy all your last minute athlete requirements there, right from bike parts, accessories, apparels, nutrition, etc.

The D-Day comes!! Race Day is here!

Swim course was changed a couple of days prior to our race, but the location was the same. I had lined up in the 50 minute slot, it is important to line up in the section of your expected swim time. On the race morning, it was announced that the race is Wetsuit Legal. I was very happy, though I saw some confident swimmers around opting to not wear the wetsuit since it was optional. The water temperature was totally bearable with the wetsuit, but the water is indeed choppy! So practice your open water swims well, and be very confident about it.

The safety in the swim course is of course top notch. There are ample buoys, one every 150 meters approx. and the kayaks were there to protect the athletes. Because of the slightly choppy waters, sighting becomes very important, but the kayaks were really helpful to guide the athletes in proper direction. So overall yes, the swim course can be challenging if you are not trained. Just remain calm and relaxed, and trust your practice.

The Bike Course is a fast one for sure!

The roads are great, with good tarmac, making it a good course for people targeting their Personal Bests! The first 15 kms give you a good scenic view of the city and its tall skyline, before taking you out into the windy and sandy highways.

Aerobars is a must thing to have! The route can be so windy at times, you got to go in the Aero position to protect yourself from the headwinds and the sand! The first 45kms going out can be a little tiring because of head winds, but you should be smart enough to judge the direction of winds and race faster when you feel there is a tailwind.

Run Course is good fun along the beach!

The run course is actually on a run track, with soft landing, good on the knees, and running along the beach is a beautiful feeling. The sun might get to you of course during the later stages, but the joy of being closer to the finish line will help you sail through :)

There are enough spectators and hydration points lined up on the run course, you will never feel you are running alone. The Hydration counters have everything, right from GU Gels, Cola, Oranges, Biscuits, etc. The support staff is absolutely terrific and encouraging.

Finish Line Experience! (Yay you are an Ironman!)

I must say, the atmosphere is quite electric at the finish line. The loud name announcements, people cheering, and the announcers are in full spirit to make you feel your special moment. The finish line is right at the Jumeirah Public Beach, easily accessible to the Transition zone after the race.

The medal is just beautiful!! And the finisher jacket is a very special thing to have at Ironman70.3 Dubai. This race is known to give the best finisher goodies to athletes, pampering them to the fullest! :)

The massage post the race is of course complimentary, and I feel the athletes should not miss it. A good 15 minute massage will rejuvenate your body and will freshen you up to go and explore the beautiful city of Dubai in the evening.

(Be prepared to waste around 45 minutes to find a cab post the race! :P But come on, its a good time to stand there and boast with your medal ;) )

A special motivating tip, especially to women athletes from me.

Believe it or not, I got my period right on the race morning. Well, its fine. We are not here to earn any special brownie points for that, but hey we are also not here to bog down and opt out of our challenges because of this phenomenon! I urge all the women athletes, to always carry their menstrual cycle kit along when you travel for the race, whether domestic or international. And go and race your heart out, come what may! An Ironman Title doesnt come at small costs :) All the best!!

About The Author

Sheetal Bambulkar is an avid Cyclist and a Triathlete from Mumbai. Her journey is nothing short of inspirational, having started her cycling journey in 2014, and only in 2018 that she dived into the water for the first time to take her baby steps in swimming!

Sheetal has had her share of accolades in long distance cycling, having done multiple Super Randonneur Series here in India, and also regularly helping her club riders to achieve their century rides.

The brightest feather in her cap is that she is a proud finisher of International Super Randonneur Series, having completed her BRM rides in Singapore, Thailand, UK and India!

She can be reached on her email :


  • Sheetal,

    You are an inspiration.

    Udayraj Prabhu
  • Awesome write up. Very inspirational and motivational. Thank you

  • Absolutely inspiring and narrated so vividly …..could actually feel as if I saw this race with my own eyes 😊

  • Superb write up Sheetal.Very informative and Inspiring. Congratulations on achieving the awesome feat.

  • Superb write up Sheetal.Very informative and Inspiring. Congratulations on achieving the awesome feat.


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