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A true ironman

January 23, 2008

Despite suffering a nasty accident 20 years ago, Pesch's passion for
triathlon still burns bright

By Lim Han Ming
Electric New Paper - Singapore
21 January 2008

HE WAS all geared up for his first triathlon in 1988. Boudewjin Pesch
was 23 then.

Less than two weeks to go before the big race, he got into a serious
accident during one of his training sessions.

The Dutchman flew off his bicycle and suffered heavy concussion.

For 10 days, Pesch laid bed-ridden at a local hospital in his hometown
Weert, which is located in the south of Eindhoven, Holland.

He was discharged only on the day of the competition.

Recalling the incident, Pesch said: 'At that time, it was not mandatory
to wear a helmet.

'And unlike today, it was not easy to remove the leather strap that ties
your feet to the pedal.

'In the event of an accident, there's only one thing that could happen.

'You go first and the bike would follow you. That was exactly what
happened to me.

'I went head down first, and my body and bike just fell over me.'

The accident left a scar on the 42-year-old, who is now the managing
director (Asia Pacific) of Acision, a company which specialises in
messaging and charging.

It was not until about 10 years later that he rediscovered his passion
for triathlon.

'The good thing about triathlon is that it's fairly easy to train on
your own,' said the father of three.

'Even when I'm overseas, I make sure that I have a pair of goggles in my
luggage.

'What I like about triathlon is that it is a competition against yourself.'

FIRST LOVE

Pesch's first love is hockey, which is the second most popular sport
behind football in Holland.

He plays in the sweeper's position.

During weekends, his parents would drive him to neighbouring towns and
cities to take part in competitions.

Why not football?

He said: 'I guess I was never interested in football. But I'm a big
supporter of the Dutch national football team.

'I still remember us winning the 1988 European Championship with players
such as Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Frank Rijkaard, all of whom
are fairly successful managers now.

'And my parents are still complaining till this day that we should have
won the World Cup in 1974 and 1978.'

Before coming to Singapore in 2001, Pesch was based in Beijing.

It was there that he got to know some of his current team-mates in the
Hollandse Club team which plays in the Singapore Hockey League.

Pesch said: 'All our players are Dutch, except for one guy who is
French. We also have an all-Dutch women's team.

'It is a good way to bond the Dutch community in Singapore.'

Hockey is more of a recreational sport for Pesch these days.

He spends most of his time training for endurance sports such as
triathlon. So far, he has taken part in seven triathlons.

His personal best of 2 hours and 48 minutes was achieved at the Osim
Singapore International Triathlon two years ago, where he swam 1.5km,
cycled 40km and ran 10km in the Olympic distance category.

He also ran the New York Marathon in 2001 and did the Aviva Ironman 70.3
in Singapore last year.

He plans to take part in the adidas Sundown Marathon - the first night
race in Singapore - in May.

Contrary to what most people think, Pesch believes that it is relatively
easy to train for triathlon in Singapore.

ONE PROBLEM

He said: 'You can run almost anywhere in Singapore. As for swimming, you
can swim in open waters in East Coast or in Sentosa.

'The only problem is cycling. Unlike in Holland where there are
designated cycling paths, the traffic in Singapore is less conducive for
cyclists.

'But I have seen the sport grow in the last two years.

'Go along Upper Thomson and Mandai Road on weekends and you will see a
lot of cyclists.

'But it will be better if there are more facilities for cyclists in
Singapore.'

Pesch's passion for cycling has taken him to places beyond his wildest
imagination.

In 2001, he and a group of nine other Dutchmen, all of whom were working
in Beijing then, decided to cycle from Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, to
Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.

Pesch said: 'Tibet is by far the most remote place I have been to.

'It is a really beautiful country in terms of culture and scenery.

'We were cycling at high altitude most of the time.

'When we got to the highest point, which was about 5,250m, we felt a
real sense of achievement.'

The cycling expedition, which took 21 days and covered a distance of
1,000km, took on more significance as they raised about 200,000 Dutch
guilders ($191,000) to build a school in one of the villages.

To commemorate the trip, they even published a book titled Across the
Mountains of Tibet.

Buoyed by the success of the Tibet trip, the group of Dutchmen hit the
roads on their bikes again in 2004.

This time, they explored the Karakoram Highway, which connects China and
Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range through the Khunjerab Pass
at an altitude of 4,877m.

The 900km journey, which took 12 days to complete, was another
eye-opener for Pesch.

He said: 'The name says Karakoram Highway, but it is nothing like
Singapore's ECP or PIE.

'There's a lot of gravel on the road and we were vulnerable to landslides.

'Still, I would highly recommend this place to anyone who is looking for
an adventure holiday.'

His most recent trip was to South Africa last year, where he cycled on
the freedom trail which runs from Durban to Cape Town.

He said: 'The altitude was not as challenging as Tibet or Pakistan, but
the terrain was very tough.

'Along the way, we had to cycle through a couple of nature reserves. We
saw a lot of wildlife and the scenery was fantastic.'

So what's next?

Pesch said: 'We have not set any dates yet, but we plan to cycle either
in north India or in South America.'
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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