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.