The Bali Hope Ultra Triathlon, part of the Bali Hope Challenge – a fundraising event created to raise awareness and help the underprivileged children of Bali in these challenging times, was held on 28 November 2020. Alan Porteous, Elite Havens’ Country Manager for Indonesia, together with other inspiring athletes from Bali came together to make a difference. We caught up with Alan for a short one-on-one.
Elite Havens: Hi, Alan. Can you tell us a little bit about the Bali Hope Ultra–Tri?
Alan Porteous: The Bali Hope Ultra–Tri was an event that comprised a 5km swim, a 210km bicycle ride, a 3000m climb and a 35km run, raced in that order.
Elite Havens: How did you prepare for this triathlon?
Alan Porteous: I was already training and preparing early in the year for a full Ironman event in June, and the half Ironman world championship that I had qualified for, to be held later in 2020. Thus, I was in good shape to take part in this event as well.
Elite Havens: In how many hours did you complete the Bali Hope Ultra–Tri?
Alan Porteous: The event lasted 16 hours from 7am to 11pm for me while the last competitors crossed the line just after midnight.
Elite Havens: What was the objective of this event?
Alan Porteous: The goal was to take a group of trained athletes on an epic experience doing something that has never been done before (in Bali) and to do it for the underprivileged children of the island who were struggling to survive a difficult year.
Elite Havens: What challenges did you face?
Alan Porteous: Organising the event and competing at the same time turned out to be the greatest challenge. Throughout the day, I was reorganizing, changing plans and monitoring our group progress so my focus was rarely on my self-preservation, nutrition and physical health.
The second challenge was keeping the group of athletes together throughout the different challenges on the day, given that these athletes struggled with different times under various conditions. The goal was to keep everyone working together as a team throughout the day and night.
The third challenge was the downhill section from Kintamani in the centre of Bali at 2000m elevation to Kubutambahan on the north coast. This section was a fast and steep descent in heavy rain and surprising as it may sound, it was bitterly cold. Most of us felt the cold to the point that our hands were shivering all the way down and struggling to hold onto brake levers.
The final and most painful challenge was the second half of the run. While we all felt good through the swim, the bike ride and the start of the run, once the 14th and 15th hour approached, we had been running for two or more hours and our final energy stores had completely depleted. It quickly became a fight for survival with the finish line seeming to move further and further away with every painful step. This is always the part of the event that teaches one a lot about their willpower and inner strength.
Elite Havens: What kept you motivated in that crucial period?
Alan Porteous: My motivation was the knowledge that we were doing this for a very good cause. During the painful last half of the run, I repeatedly thought of the children for whom we were doing this and the fact that while I was swimming, cycling and then running my way across more than half of Bali, they were desperately hungry. I always try to think of those in worse situations than me and that thought keeps me going.
Elite Havens: What would you like to say to those who supported you during this event?
Alan Porteous: There were so many supporters that it is hard to thank them all. However, Bali Hope and Bali Children Foundation have provided opportunities and reasons for me to make 2020 a genuinely rewarding and satisfying year. I would also like to thank Elite Havens and Aqua Danone who sponsored and supported me throughout, making this event possible.
In addition, I would like to acknowledge and thank my wife, the other athletes, particularly the three other athletes who completed the full course with me, and the support crew who travelled around with us day and night to help keep us safe. My friend, Jack, who rode beside me throughout my run providing light, drinks and encouragement to keep me going through the last half of the run when the darkness and pain were starting to convince me to quit.
I would also like to thank everyone who donated to this cause. The event and this group of fine athletes raised $20,000 to feed and send to school Bali’s poorest children and families in a time when they so desperately needed it. The generosity and concern shown by those who donated and supported were what made 2020 one of my best years.
No matter what challenges life throws at us, we can still do our part by helping each other in any way possible, be it big or small.
Watch the video below to know more about Alan and his efforts to make change happen, and find out more about his work at Elite Havens as Country Manager for Indonesia.