It’s the world’s most captivating and testing single day endurance test. The Ironman contest demands nothing less than real heros. When the Ironman challenge returns to Langkawi on 29th of September, after a four year break, over 1200 athletically trained men and women will fight their way to the finish.
They will have to suffer – they will have to brave tropical climate conditions, they will have to move on and on, up and down through the hilly landscape of the beautiful island. It is a monumental challenge consisting of a 3.8km swim, a 180km cycle and a 42.2km run. It will be stretching to the limits – but that is exactly the fun about it.
According to insiders the Langkawi Ironman is among the world’s most challenging. The RunTri Challenge Index, for example, rates Langkawi as the second toughest triathlon in the world. No wonder the athletes‘ community can not await the reinstallment of the Langkawi tournament, which used to be held annually until 2010. „It was the best and thoughest show on earth!“, comments one former participant in one of the relevant internet forums. „Registration for Malaysia’s race will happen two weeks from the announcement,“ informs another blogger, „no guesses what I will do when it opens for registration.“ Registration has been opened on 29th of August, therefore we can assume the excited sportsman is already on the list.
Hundreds of competitors will follow his example. In 2008, for example, the year that Faris Al-Sultan from Munich, Germany won the contest, 700 athletes took part, but that was nothing compared to the estimanted 20.000 visitors (!) that occupied the spot during the event.
„Ironman Malaysia was just an amazing race and location“, fancies professional triathlete Patrick Evoe who participated in 2009 (read his complete report here). „Malaysia just had such a welcoming feel from the race staff, to the competitors, to the locals. The race didn’t have the aggressive nervous energy around the race you often feel at North American Ironman races. The country and island of Langkawi is just really a cool place to visit. It just made for a great race and trip.“
Known as the „jewel of Kedah“, Malaysia is above all a paradise for nature lovers. The group of 99 islands consists, home of fishermen and rice farmers, offers thrilling flora and fauna. The largest mangrove forest of south east asia, the spectacular waterfall „Telaga Tujuh“ („seven sources“), bats, birds and butterflies – all this and more can be found on Langkawi. Due to its ecological harmony and archaeological, geological and cultural significance the Southeast Asian archipelago was officially declared „geopark“ in 2007.
Apart from that, Langkawi is also a great tourist attraction. Visitors will find shopping malls, a go kart track, a golf course, a sea water aquarium and a spectacular cable car, one of the steepiest in the world.
And then there is the sky bridge, a 125-metre (410 ft) curved pedestrian cable-stayed bridge hanging at about 100m above ground. Completed in 2004, it very soon became an iconic landmark of the island. Unfortunately at present in is closed due to maintenance work and will reopen only in 2015.