While the smooth asphalted roads, highlighted with lush green mangrove trees witnessing the fierce running and bicycle races, the sparkling clear waters of Bintan Island perfectly served as the arena for the strenuous swimming competition known as the thrilling “MetaMan” Iron Distance Triathlon 2012, which took place on beautiful Bintan Island on September 15, 2012. If you stay in Bintan during the “MetaMan” competition, it is not only exciting but also very fun.
“Uniquely Combining Sport and Tourism,” the Bintan MetaMan is hailed as one of the biggest annual triathlons in Southeast Asia. Compared to other similar sporting events such as the Tour de Singkarak and the Bintan Triathlon, the MetaMan has its own unique characteristics.
At a press conference held on Friday, September 14, 2012, Metasport’s Race Director Marie Leautey stated that the special challenge of MetaMan lies in the distances covered, which are twice longer than in regular competitions. For Indonesia, this also marked the first time this level of competition is held in the archipelago.
Over 250 participants from 35 countries displayed both their physical endurance and mental toughness as they attempted to conquer the total 226 km (MetaMan Full) and 113 km (MetaMan Half) of non-stop, multi-sporting distances. For the MetaMan Full, athletes were given the challenge of a 3.8 km swim, 180 km of bicycle racing, and 42.2 km running distance. For the MetaMan Half, the event featured 1.9 km of swimming, 90 km bicycle racing, and 21.1 km running competition.
The United Kingdom sent the most number of participants with 45 athletes, while Australia followed with 41 athletes. As host country, Indonesia was represented by 18 athletes competing in the MetaMan Half category. Other countries participating in the event were: Canada, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Italia, Japan, Myanmar, Singapore, Philipines, and Thailand.
The official opening ceremony of Bintan MetaMan was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, the Governor of the province of the Riau Archipelago (Kepri), and the Regent of Bintan. The opening ceremony was highlighted with carnival and art performances including Barongsai or Lion Dance, Reog, and other cultural attractions, as well as art performances from neighboring Johor of Malaysia.
The opening ceremony was officially and symbolically opened by the Governor of Riau Archipelago, Drs. H. Muhammad Sani, as he hit the ceremonial gong. The MetaMan Iron Distance Triathlon opening also coincided with the Bintan Cultural Festival, which aside from presenting traditional art performances, also featured a food bazaar and a handicrafts exhibition.
Australian Brett Catter emerged Champion
On the morning of Saturday, September 15, 2012, the MetaMan Iron Distance Triathlon kicked off. From 7:00 am, the MetaMan Full contestants already gathered along the shore of Bintan Beach as they waited for the race to start. When the whistle was blown, contestants raced to the water and commenced the ultimate endurance competition. Australian athletes came out of the water first, leading the race, followed by New Zealand in second and Sweden in third.
With no rest gap, athletes stormed to their bikes right away and passionately paddled for 180 km along the smooth asphalt track decorated on each side with shady beautiful trees. With an average speed of 70 km/hour, athletes raced the ascending and descending routes with some sharp and winding turns.
Completing the bicycle course, contestants immediately continued with the 42.2 running stage across the shoreline of Bintan Beach and the Bintan Garden area. Endless applause and support were given by spectators (including families and friends) who were awed by the sheer strength and resilience of the participants. Being a mere short ferry and boat ride away, most of the spectators came from Malaysia and Singapore.
After a non-stop grueling 9 hours of racing that included swimming, cycling, and running, Australian athlete, Brett Catter, finally emerged as the first to cross the finish line and became champion with a total time of 08:43:58. Frendik Croneberg, a young Triathlon athlete from Sweden, claimed second spot after finishing with a total time of 08:59:10, while Petr Vabrousek from the Czech Republic finished in third. The result was surprising, since the three athletes came from different generations, while the most favored athlete, Aaron Farlow failed to complete the race.
In the MetaMan Half, the first place was claimed by Leighton Matheson with a total time of 04:33:52, followed by Michael Bucek with a total time of 04:39:35, and Bastian Dohling in third with a total time of: 04:49:56.
Following this year’s success, Meta Sport, the organizer of the event, confirmed that next year’s event will again take place on Bintan Island. Said Meta Sport, Bintan is the perfect place to host this type of event since this Indonesian island has beautiful coastal areas and inland landscapes, as well as relatively good road conditions. Its strategic location, on the doorstep of Malaysia and Singapore, has also made it the perfect host for similar sporting events such as Tour de Bintan and the Bintan Triathlon.