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  • Writer's pictureJason Fonger

Ironman 70.3 | Vietnam - Asia Pacific Championship 2019

Updated: Apr 14, 2021

In February of 2019, I won my age group at Ironman 70.3 Bangsaen and secured my spot at the world championships. This took off some pressure, but I was still determined to have a great race going into Ironman 70.3 Vietnam on May 12th, 2019.

Vegetarian triathlete Patrick Lange and vegan triathlete Jason Fonger
Jason Fonger and Patrick Lange at 70.3 Vietnam in 2019.

Ironman 70.3 Vietnam was the 2019 Asia-Pacific Championships, which meant it was going to be a more competitive field of athletes. Even Patrick Lange was there! To place well in this race would mean more than placing well in Bangsaen. I had also made a few key mistakes in Bangsaen, and was looking forward to seeing how much I could improve on that performance by making a few corrections.

For this race, I was focused mostly on executing a solid nutrition and hydration plan as well as good pacing. In Bangsaen, I rode the first half of the bike too hard and severely neglected nutrition and hydration. This resulted in blowing up on the run and barely hanging on to the age group win.

Jason Fonger vegan champion triathlete swim exit Ironman 70.3 Vietnam 2019
Jason Fonger swim exit at Ironman 70.3 Vietnam 2019

I didn't want to blow up in Vietnam like I did in Bangsaen. I felt like if I could just be disciplined about pacing and nutrition, I would have a great race. I was in good shape, I had a plan and I even had the fastest bike setup that I'd ever raced with.

I'd heard the swim course in previous years had been quite rough. This year it wasn't too bad, but there were definitely some waves. I managed to take advantage of these waves coming back towards shore on the last part of the swim. I was very pleased to swim 1.9km in 28 minutes and 44 seconds.

Once on the bike, I settled in to a groove at around 220w. My plan was to start easy, make sure I had my hydration and nutrition in check, and then slowly increase power resulting in a negative split. I had concentrated sugar water in a bottle behind my saddle, and then I would dilute that in the torpedo bottle on the front of the bike by mixing in water from aid stations. I had done several training sessions where I tested out how much sugar and water to consume throughout the ride, and stuck to my plan exactly.

Jason Fonger vegan champion triathlete cycling at Ironman 70.3 Vietnam 2019
Jason Fonger cycling at Ironman 70.3 Vietnam 2019

It worked like a charm. For the first half of the bike, I averaged 227w. For the second half I averaged 248w. I finished the 91.4km flat bike course in 2 hours, 18 minutes and 24 seconds. The average speed was 39.19 km/h and the average power was 237w (weighted 243w). In case you ever want to check out my race or training data, you can find it all on Strava.

Jason Fonger vegan champion triathlete running at Ironman 70.3 Vietnam 2019
Jason Fonger running at Ironman 70.3 Vietnam 2019

Coming off the bike, I felt really good. The plan was to run a pace somewhere around 4:30/km and hopefully have enough in the tank to increase the pace in the last 5km. I ran the first 3km averaging 4:25/km and then things started to get tough. I could feel the fatigue and heat starting to get to me. By the 9th kilometre, I was running at around a 5:00/km pace.

I decided to use each aid station as a chance charge up, just like I had in Bangsaen, except this time I wasn't nearly as cooked. I just felt it was in my best interest to make full use of the cold water, ice, and cola they offered every mile or so. This really helped to keep me going. I was always looking forward to that next aid station and that helped me push a decent pace of around 4:45/km between stations.

Jason Fonger vegan champion triathlete running to the finish line of Ironman 70.3 Vietnam 2019 Asia-Pacific Championships
Jason Fonger finishing Ironman 70.3 Vietnam 2019

You can see a big smile on my face coming down the finish shoot. That finish line was a welcome sight to say the least. I was also happy because by this point knew I was going to finish with a much better time than I had in Bangsaen, and I was proud of how I had paced this race.

The 21.1km run had taken me 1 hour 40 minutes and 19 seconds. That brought my total time for the race to 4 hours, 31 minutes and 44 seconds. It was enough to earn the title of Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Champion for the 25-29 age group. It was also enough to beat my time in Bangsaen by about 18 minutes.

Jason Fonger vegan champion triathlete on the podium after Ironman 70.3 Vietnam 2019 Asia-Pacific Championships
Jason Fonger wins AG at Ironman 70.3 Vietnam 2019

Of course, I had to rock the "Vegan Champion" shirt on the podium. After all, the motivation I have to compete largely comes from a desire to raise awareness around veganism. The best time to answer the question "Where do you get your protein?" is right after you have won a sporting event. The answer is simple: PLANTS! I highly encourage everyone to learn about the benefits of being vegan. If you care about animals, your health and the health of our planet, living a vegan lifestyle is one of the most powerful things you can do. Thanks to Vegan Heaven in Chiang Mai, Thailand for helping me to spread the vegan message through triathlon racing in 2019. Also thanks to The Highlandner sport shop for supplying the gear that let me go that extra bit faster for the 2019 race season. Check back soon to read about my race at the 2019 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Nice, France.

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