After many hits and misses in the marathon, Mok Ying Rong knew she needed another way if she wanted to get to the 2019 SEA Games.

In just her second duathlon ever, she secured her SEA Games nomination at the Tri-Factor Belitung Duathlon. Mok won the race in 2 hours 17 minutes 20 seconds under the relentless noon sun.

“I felt pretty strong,” said Mok, 25. “Just glad that I got through the race with some reserves at the end. Usually, I find myself over pushing too early and I end feeling really weak.”

Beating the heat at Belitung

The 12 pm start time and the undulating terrain on both the run and bike courses were the ultimate test of will for the SEA Games hopefuls as they warmed up in the shade and sloshed water over their heads. Many of them already met the qualifying time; now it was a matter of who were the top two.

Mok established herself as the one to beat from the first 10km, coming into T1 just a minute ahead of Indonesian Eva Desiana. Mok rode scared for much of the 40km bike leg – she hadn’t put in as much cycling training as she’d liked due to work commitments.

“No one has caught up with me yet,” chanted Mok to herself as she focused on maintaining her cadence over the rolling hills that seemed to have no end in sight.

Mok surprised herself when no other females caught her on the bike, which she deemed a decent bike leg. The final 5km run was a piece of cake for the marathoner as she bounced through the line almost 5 minutes ahead of her next competitor, smiling at the cameras.

“The race was a reflection of my training efforts over the past few months,” said Mok.

Mok Ying Rong remained first throughout the entire race at the Tri-Factor Belitung Duathlon. She finished in 2:17:20. (Romaine Soh)

The journey to #RoadtoSEAGames2019

The former triathlete turned runner bought her first bike, a BMC Teammachine, just a few weeks before her debut in the Singapore Duathlon last January. Mok placed second in the elite category and was named to the high-performance team.

Due to work commitments, however, she spent more time running compared to cycling and multi-sport skills. By the time she could think about getting in a cycling session, it was rush hour and the roads were full.

On to the trainer she would go, grinding away on workouts she’d based off of Zwift samples. To her, the run and bike training go hand-in-hand training the different systems. Running for the aerobic gains, biking for the anaerobic sessions in order to generate more power on the bike.

Her run mileage remains similar to her marathon buildup, which hovers around 100km a week. But the undulating hills of Belitung exposed her lack of power, which only motivated her to put more thought into future bike sessions.

Said Mok, “There’s so much room for me to improve. Come the SEA Games, the competition level will be much higher. I don’t want to be too far behind the others.”

She admitted that she tried the duathlon because she knew she had a higher chance of qualifying in the duathlon compared to the marathon. This year, the top Singaporean female has gone sub-3. Second and third place hover right around the 3-hour mark, still significantly faster than Mok’s PB.

So, marathon or duathlon in the future?

“Marathon. It’s something I need to work my way through. For duathlon, in a way, we get to take a little break in between. Those little breaks do add up. In the marathon, there is no time at all for you to catch a breather.”

Lam Wai Kit and Foo Gen Lin were the first two Singaporeans across the line, finishing in 2:07:25 and 2:10:57 respectively. Indonesian Jauhari Johan won the race in 2:06:40 after putting in a strong bike leg to pull away from the field.

Lam Wai Kit was the first Singaporean male across the line at the Tri-Factor Belitung Duathlon. (Romaine Soh)

Tri-Factor Belitung Duathlon Results

Female

1) Mok Ying Rong (SIN) – 2:17:20

2) Eva Desiana (IND) – 2:22:00

3) Phoebe Kee (SIN) – 2:29:20

4) Yong Man Yun (SIN) – 2:38:30

5) Jillian See (SIN) – 2:51:14

Male

1) Jauhari Johan (IND) – 2:06:40

2) Lam Wai Kit (SIN) – 2:07:25

3) Foo Gen Lin (SIN) – 2:10:57

4) Danny Lim Tien Aik (SIN) – 2:15:38

5) Muhammad Haziq Junaidy (MAS) – 2:20:29

6) Aaron Lee (SIN) – 2:24:09

7) Rendra Wahyudi – 2:44:19

8) Benjamin Khoo Jun Da (SIN) – 2:44:38