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BIS HCMC Triumph in 2018 Da Nang Triathlon

23 May 2018

This month saw the annual IRONMAN 70.3 Vietnam race return to the beautiful coastal city of Da Nang with more than 1,600 people from 56 countries and territories fighting for a podium position. This multi-day sporting event consists of a number of competing categories including IRONMAN 70.3, Sunrise Sprint and IRONKIDS. Amongst the thousands who turned up to compete in these races were teachers, students and parents from BIS HCMC, ready to show Da Nang what they’re made of!


The challenging IRONMAN 70.3 Vietnam race featured a fast, scenic course that included:

  • 1.9km ocean swim
  • 90km bike course
  • 21km run

Can you guess out of over 100 BIS teachers who was brave enough to take on the mighty challenge of IRONMAN 70.3?

That’s right, you guessed it: Mary McAloon, Deputy Head Teacher at BIS HCMC, Early Years and Infant Campus. If you know Mary, you'll be aware that she's no stranger to a triathlon and is always willing to take on a challenge. This year, she didn’t just take on IRONMAN 70.3, she smashed it, finishing in an incredible 4th place for her age category! We caught up with Mary to talk about the race;

Mary IRONMAN 70.3

What motivated you to keep going when the race got tough?

The race didn’t get too tough for me as I had prepared well for the heat and endurance. The key to 70.3 is ensuring that your preparation is correct just like many things in our lives.

How do you feel your training prepared you?

My coach and IRONMAN race Director, Todd Gilmore, provided me with my training plan, motivation and support to continue training even on the days when it could have been easy to find an excuse. 

What was the most surprising thing about the race?

The surprising thing this year was that the water was unusually choppy, unlike previous years when the sea had been very flat. This particular weekend saw quite a swell in the water kicking up some quite big surf. This didn’t look particularly appealing but once I got through the break I managed to swim my fastest time at IRONMAN 70.3 Da Nang.

How did it feel to come 4th in your age group?

During and after the race it is not always immediately obvious what position you finished in. Finishing 4th, a 3 place improvement on last year’s 7th is a huge achievement. However, being a born winner, I won’t be satisfied until I get on the podium.

Do you have any advice to anyone considering taking part in a triathlon?

Get a coach, stay committed, follow the plan and train as much as possible.

Do you have any more races lined up?

Yes, on July 8th I am racing in the IRONMAN 70.3 Jeju, Republic of Korea, my home before HCMC. I am excited to return to the Republic of Korea after 2 years away.

Mary is a fantastic example of our school motto ‘Be Ambitious’. Although finishing in 4th place was an incredible achievement, Mary is determined to keep improving. We can’t wait to hear about her next race in July. Our fingers are crossed for a podium finish!



We also saw BIS HCMC students taking part in the youth version of IRONMAN. IRONKIDS Vietnam is one of the largest youth races in Vietnam and this year saw the addition of an Aquathlon category, featuring a swim as well as a run. The Aquathlon had a swim of 100m and run of 1km for 6-10 years old.

Our very own Sophia Coleho in Year 4 was over the moon to compete in IRONKIDS 2018,

IRONKIDS was a fun experience. At first I was really nervous but in the end I just let my nerves go and had fun. I was also really well supported by my family and Ms Clare.

Well done to Sophia on a wonderful personal achievement, you should be very proud!

Sunrise Sprint

The sunrise sprint is a fantastic event for beginners wanting to immerse themselves into triathlon racing for the first time or tri-enthusiasts focused on speed. It consisted of:

  • 750m beach swim,
  • 20km fast and flat bike course
  • 5km run

There were lots of familiar faces taking part in the Sunrise Sprint including: PE Teacher Ali Thom, Year 1 Teacher Samantha Baker, Assistant Head Teacher at EY&IC Sarah Curran, Year 4 Teacher Ellie Chick, Year 2 Teacher Jules Bye and BIS Football Coach James McAloon. We caught up with some of our sunrise sprinters to find out their thoughts on the race.

Ellie Sunrise Sprint

Year 4 Teacher Ellie was crowned WINNER of her age category and talks to us about persevering even when it gets tough.

For me, the swim was the hardest part. Although I swim a couple of times each week in the school pool, a choppy sea certainly added an extra element of challenge. I really enjoyed the bike section, but by the run I was tiring and had to really push myself to keep going without dropping to a walk. It was worth it for the sense of achievement I felt when I crossed the line and knew I hadn’t given up. Before the race I’d said to myself I wanted to get round in a good time, but I didn’t expect to come first in my age category – an added bonus! If anyone is tempted to try a triathlon, this is a great one for beginners - the distances aren’t incredibly long so with a reasonable level of fitness and a little training beforehand it’s possible to complete the course.

Ellie wasn’t the only one to finish first in her age category with Year 2 Teacher Jules also finishing in pole position!

Jules Sunrise Sprint

For Jules crossing that finish line was a huge sense of personal achievement, as she explains;

From a personal point of view, I was really happy just to complete it! I have never raced before and it was a personal goal to get round the course. I did not do it quickly! The swim was hard because of the sea conditions, it was really rough and a few people had to be rescued! However, we all survived it! The cycling was fine because it was fairly flat and it was a smooth road. 5km for me was hard because I am not a great runner, I had to swim and cycle before it and found I could not run the entire thing. My legs were like jelly! Also even at 7:00am it was really hot! Advice: do some training beforehand, drink loads of water on the day and enjoy it! The competitors and spectators really entered into the spirit of it making it a really friendly atmosphere.

Finally, we spoke to Assistant Head Teacher at EY&IC Sarah who perhaps has the most important message of all, ‘Life is for living.’

Sarah - Sunrise Sprint

Three years ago my friend and I signed up for a Triathlon to celebrate her being cancer free. Unfortunately, it was cancelled and I moved to Vietnam so we didn’t end up doing it.  Last summer the cancer had returned and we made a pact to complete a triathlon and do it as “Team Rachel” as that was the name we would use when we did events such as Race for Life. I started looking at events and I really liked the distances of the sprint and felt with training it was possible. I found a 12 week training plan and began training. When I first timed myself in the pool to do the 750m swim it took me 50 minutes. I was really pleased I managed the swim in very rough sea in 28 minutes. As I did the cycle I thought lots about Rachel and that gave me inspiration to keep going. After the run I felt really pleased to have accomplished it. It was also a cause to celebrate as last month Rachel’s scan showed her cancer was back in remission. Rachel has made me realize how short life can be and we need to make the most of it. Life is for living and I definitely feel proud of what I did and coming 108 out of 152. Now I have all the equipment I will definitely do another one. This is the start of a fitter me.

Congratulations to everyone who competed in this year’s event. Each one of you is an inspiration and shows that no matter your ability or motivation for competing, with ambition and determination there’s no limit to what you can achieve!