December 2016


Ready, steady, go! The next morning was Race Day. The jetty was abuzz with excitement as participants discussed what lay ahead. There were a handful of serious, professional athletes, but most were enthusiastic amateurs or weekend warriors. The general consensus about the course echoed my own feelings: fairly confident about the run (despite the hills), but a little apprehensive about the open-water swim. There was no time for nerves though, and, after a short speech from the guest of honour, Freddy Chapman’s son, Chris, we were off! We wound our way up and down the undulating roads of the resort, thenworked around to the jungle trail. By now the pack was well spread out, and one by one the runners made it over the treacherous hills

At 4pm, it was spa-time. Any remaining traces of the morning’s exertions were soon washed, scrubbed and massaged away in a blissful 2.5 hours at the Spa Village. First came the signature Bath House Ritual, with its many different Asian bathing traditions; then a Campur- Campur massage, featuring a blend of Malay and Thai techniques. The scent of lemongrass and pandan filled the air as my therapist, Laila, worked her magic. A restorative cup of ginger tea in the spa lounge was a gentle transition back to reality and, after a few minutes under the pounding waters of the massive rain- shower back in my villa, I was ready for the post-race party: a celebratory beach barbecue at Emerald Bay’s appropriately named Chapman’s Bar.

to Emerald Bay, where they switched their trainers for goggles and hit the water. It may have been the beautiful setting, the buoyancy of the salt water or the confidence-boosting sight of the bay filled with boats, but our fears provedunfounded: all the competitorsmade it back to dry land, safe and smiling, to complete the challenge. A gentle recovery I passed the rest of the day in a state of well-earned relaxation: a little lazing on the deck of my gorgeous spa villa, just looking out to sea, followed by a blissfully easy afternoon by the Royal Bay Beach Club pool. Here, my only distractions were a gripping novel, a tasty Cajun shrimp po-boy and a mischievous group of oriental pied hornbills.



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