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Dispatch: Challenge Laguna Phuket Tri-Fest Press Conference

The week-long event includes this Sunday’s Laguna Phuket Triathlon (LPT) and next Sunday’s Challenge Laguna Phuket (CLP).

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On Saturday afternoon at the Laguna Phuket Resort in Phuket, Thailand a press conference was held to celebrate the start of the week-long Challenge Laguna Phuket Tri-Fest, which includes this Sunday’s Laguna Phuket Triathlon (LPT), a 1.8km swim/55km bike/12km run “destination distance” event and next Sunday’s Challenge Laguna Phuket (CLP), a 1.9km swim/90km bike/21km run half-distance race. The festivities, emceed by race announcer Whit Raymond, featured a trio of local dignitaries as well as several VIP athletes. On stage were Ravi Chandran, Managing Director Laguna Resorts & Hotels, Anoma Vongyai, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand and Suvadhana Sibunruang, Director Marketing Development and Commercial Communications, Thai Airways (the event’s presenting sponsor), all of who warmly welcomed the 2300 competitors that will race over the course of two weekends. The VIP athletes were each asked to share a few words about their experience in Phuket.

Rasmus Petræus (DEN)

The men’s CLP defending champion, who will focus solely on racing next Sunday’s event, regarding his preparation in defense of his title.

“First of all I’m very happy to be back. We had a lot of fun last year the entire week, especially at the after party. [At which point nods of agreement and a fair amount of blushing were shared among all who attended last year’s legendary party.] This time I’ve been here for months preparing in the heat. From last year I learned that no matter how hard it is, you just have to go out and do the race you’re prepared for. This is a very tough course but I think my months of preparation will be a benefit in the end.”

Till Schramm (GER)

Racing both LPT and CLP, asked about the difficulty of traveling to race in the tropics as compared to Germany’s cold climate.

“Actually my family and I recently moved to Dubai, so I’ve been training there the last six months and I know how to be in the heat. Since the last edition of this race I’ve mostly raced in the heat, thanks to the support of Roman Floesser [the event director] and Challenge Family. I’ve gained very much confidence and power in the last year and I very much look forward to doing both races.”

Massimo Cigana (ITA)

Three-time LPT champion (2007, 2010 & 2011) in his 10th year competing in Phuket, racing both LPT and CLP, on what makes the event so special to him.

“Already 10 years! This is a special place for me in my heart. It seems to compete with a postcard, everything is so beautiful. And it was my first very important victory in 2007. So there are many reasons why I love this place.”

Belinda Granger (AUS)

Two-time LPT champion (2008 & 2010), racing both LPT and CLP in her 12th year in Phuket and the final professional appearance of her career, regarding her feelings about Phuket.

“This was the first race as a professional that I actually got a formal invitation to come race, and it was really the start of my pro career. I’ve continued to come back year after year because it is absolutely my favorite race in the world. Not just the races, but the entire week here. There’s something so peaceful and so tranquil about Thai culture. And for someone who is usually so crazy like me, it has this beautiful calming effect. My husband even notices it. I can hardly describe it, but I’ve done this race more than any other in my entire career, so that alone tells you how special it is to me.”

Navin Tar

A Thai television celebrity, former opera star and aspiring professional triathlete, racing both LPT and CLP on behalf of local charity Fully Booked Mobile Learning Center, regarding his motivations to compete.

“Last year I was here for LPT, this year I will race both, and Challenge Laguna Phuket will be my first half distance so I’m excited. I found the sport about three years ago, and once I started I just haven’t been able to stop. Coming to Laguna Phuket has been my goal in my athletic career. I’m just trying to do my best and I’m happy to be here. And it is my honor to have an opportunity to talk with you about the CSR Fully Booked, which helps local children with language and education.”

Kandi

While the professional athletes in attendance were certainly a highlight of the press conference, the real star of the show was Kandi, the resort’s resident baby elephant who made a special guest appearance. Additionally, the Nov. 14 birth of a baby boy elephant was announced, the first ever born at the resort. Guests were given the opportunity to submit suggestions for the new youngster’s nickname, and Belinda Granger was given the honor of choosing the winning entry: Coconut.

A warm welcome to baby Coconut, and best of luck to all competing in the Challenge Laguna Phuket Tri-Fest!

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