Profile: Phuket’s own Ironman Jaray Jearanai [video]

PHUKET: If we mentioned the terms ‘Ironman’ or ‘triathlon’ 10 years ago, not many people on the island would have known what it meant, or paid much attention. These days, however, when a sporting trend becomes popular, the number of interested athletes on the island increases rapidly.

Dominating the top of the triathlete rankings since 2011 is Thai athlete, Jaray Jearanai.

Mr Jaray, now 35, was born and raised in Phuket. Way back in 2001, he began cycling and running with his neighbors as a hobby, as well as to help him stay fit. Inspiration struck him in 2005 while he was working at the Laguna shopping center; there to cheer for a friend who was competing in the Laguna Phuket Triathlon, he decided this was something he wanted to try out for himself.

The first thing he did was learn how to swim, and thus began his arduous training, inching him further towards triathlon glory. “Ranking was not important to me – I just wanted to run through the finish line and receive a finisher medal,” he said, when asked about the 2006 Laguna Phuket Triathlon, the first one he ever participated in.

From 2006 to 2010, Mr Jaray practiced by himself and with friends. It was at the end of 2010 that he met eight-time Ironman Champion Jurgen Zack, a triathlon head coach at Thanyapura at the time.

From eager amateur to driven pro, Jaray Jearanai talks about his hard-run journey to become Thailand’s top international triathlete. Video: PGTV

“I told Mr Zack that I loved triathlons and had been doing them for six years, but wanted to improve my skills and accomplish more,” said Mr Jaray.

Luckily for him, Mr Zack agreed. After practicing for a year with his new coach, Mr Jaray was ranked the strongest triathlete in the country. He took part in several triathlon events, both locally as well as in other parts of Southeast Asia. In 2011, the first year he won the Laguna Phuket Triathlon as well as the Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket, he also qualified for the biggest triathlon events in the world – the Half Ironman Las Vegas World Championship, as well as the Full Ironman Hawaii World Championship, both of which he competed in that year.

“At the world championship, 1,800 of the best triathletes were chosen from 30,000 registrants around the world. I’m thankful that I got this opportunity to represent Thailand and Phuket, and proudly waved the Thai flag when I crossed the finish line,” he said.

Today, cycling and triathlon are very popular and Mr Jaray is happy that more and more people are moving towards working out and exercising to stay healthy. He now coaches students and wants to help aspiring future athletes represent Thailand at these competitions.

Mr Jaray is currently training for the Hua Hin International Triathlon, an event he is particularly proud of for two reasons; firstly, because it is Her Majesty Queen Sirikit’s event, and secondly because it was the first triathlon in which he secured first place overall.

Following are some of Mr Jaray’s personal records and achievements:

– Challenge Laguna Phuket Triathlon; 1st Thai elite, 1st age group
– Laguna Phuket Triathlon; 1st Thai elite, 3rd age group
Pattaya Tri-League; 1st Thai elite
– Malaysia 113 Triathlon; 1st overall
– HuaHin Tri-League; 3rd overall
– Ironman 70.3 Vietnam; 2nd age group
– Bangkok Tri-League; 1st Thai elite
– Cha-am Tri-league; 1st Thai elite
– Ironman 70.3 Cebu Philippines; 2nd age group, 1st Southeast Asian
– Golden Triangle Triathlon; 2nd overall

– Challenge Philippines; 2nd Asian elite
– Amarin Outdoor Unlimited, Hua Hin; 2nd overall
– Isuzu Roboman U-tapao Triathlon, Chonburi 3rd overall
– Ironman 70.3 Putrajaya, Malaysia; 3rd age group
– Golden Triangle Triathlon; 4th overall
– Toyota Hua Hin Triathlon International; 1st overall
– Laguna Phuket Triathlon; 1st Thai overall,1st age group
– Challenge Laguna Phuket Triathlon; 1st Thai overall, 2nd age group

– Challenge Laguna Phuket Triathlon; 1st Thai athlete, 15th overall
– Laguna Phuket Triathlon; 1st Thai athlete, 13th overall
– Hua Hin Triathlon International; 2nd overall
– Challenge Roth, Germany; 365th overall from 6,000 participants
– Laguna Vietnam Triathlon; 7th overall
Samui Duathlon International; 2nd overall
– Taiwan Triathlon International; 6th overall
– Rayong Triathlon International; 3rd overall

– Laguna Phuket Triathlon; 1st Thai athlete, 17th overall
– Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket; 1st Thai athlete, 16th overall
– Hua Hin Triathlon International; 2nd overall
– Sahviriya Bangkok Triathlon International; 3rd overall
– Ironman 70.3 Las Vegas World Championship; 1st Thai male to qualify
– Taiwan Ironman 70.3; 25th overall
– Rayong Triathlon International; 6th overall

– Laguna Phuket Triathlon; 1st Thai athlete
– Ironman 70.3 Laguna Phuket; 1st Thai athlete
– Singapore Ironman 70.3; 30th overall
– Philippines Ironman 70.3; 17th overall
– Bangkok Triathlon International; 2nd overall
– Ironman 70.3 Las Vegas World Championship; 1st Thai male to qualify
– Hawaii Ironman World Championship; 1st Thai male to qualify
– Hua Hin Triathlon International; 3rd overall

— Pruth Kulprasit

Thai Life
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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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