PRESS RELEASE – The Martinicans have landed – and abducted nearly all the honours at the second Digicel Tri St Lucia International Triathlon on Saturday. In fact, the only winner in the adult races not representing the French dependency was so chuffed he went down on one knee to propose to his girlfriend at the finish line.
Other factors that made this relaxed Caribbean triathlon stand out from the normal fare included double-Olympic champion Daley Thompson handing out the finishers’ medals and former world record miler Steve Cram cycling as part of a relay team before acting as a cheerleader for the runners.
Hosted at the impressive Landings resort on the north west coast of the island, Digicel Tri St Lucia International Triathlon continued its international flavour of 2013 with over 200 triathletes from 15 different countries taking part in one of three distances collectively termed ‘Blackbeard’s Revenge’ after the notorious 17th-century English pirate who roamed the Caribbean seas.
The choices on offer were The Dagger (200m swim, 6.6km bike, 2.5km run), The Pistol (750m swim, 13.2km bike, 5km run) and The Cutlass (1,500m swim, 26.4km bike, 10km run), which all started with a non-wetsuit swim in the balmy Caribbean sea, before the pace and temperature picked up with a challenging out-and-back bike course to Cotton Bay and finished with a multi-lap run to Pigeon Island.
Clement Briere was a class apart in The Cutlass, putting the bike skills that made him an XTERRA age-group world champion to good use on the testing St Lucian roads to win by over 15 minutes from countryman Stephane Marliere in 1:53:58. In third place overall, and first woman, was MathildeBatailler (2:11:22), who races for the same Madinina Bikers club as Briere.
More success for Martinique came in The Pistol where ZoimeKrystan (1:02:13) comfortably won the men’s race, with Chloe Mazaloubeaud taking victory in the women’s.
Cathy Eugenie-Anauld, another who had made the island hop 50 miles south, won the women’s Dagger, with the UK’s David Marshall winning the men’s equivalent before celebrating by asking for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage.
The adult races were followed by a children’s triathlon (5-9 years) and aquathlon (8-15 years) and a junior paratri for pupils from a local Special Needs school involving a wheelchair push. There was also a special award for the most impressive St Lucian performance of the day, with Teenager Niall Bergasse receiving the Ollie Gobat Memorial award for Special Achievement.
“Triathlon in November? Well, maybe, if it’s in the Caribbean. No one will argue that St Lucia is steeped in swim, bike and run history or that it will usurp cricket as the islanders’ main sporting interest, but there are some obvious attractions when escaping the onset of British winter.
“The heat and humidity hit as soon as you step from the plane, although those worried it might make too testing an environment for endurance sport should also note the heavens open at regular intervals to help with cooling off.
“I took part in The Cutlass, with a standard distance swim and run, and while the bike course has been trimmed to 26.4km, the mountainous terrain and rugged St Lucian roads condition probably make up for those lost few kilometres.
“We struck lucky with the weather. Overcast skies and a decent wind greeted the 7:30am start and while there were a few wilting on the run course, at least there were some stunning ocean views to take their mind off it, fortunately there was no rain.”
“The event is the ambitious brainchild of John Lunt, former owner and founder of Human Race and noteworthy for successfullydelivering the Olympic triathlon in London, Daley Thompson, who brings legendary sporting status, and the Gobat family, who own a Hotel and Resort on the Island.
“Numbers are small but growing, and a week’s worth of free activities in the build-up provided an intimate multisport festival feel and the chance to rub shoulders and acquire a few sporting tips from both Thompson and former Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth medallist Steve Cram. On offer was an organised fun run, mini aquathlon and sea swim, and every morning 45-minute run and swim masterclasses hosted by Cram and St Lucia’s first Olympic swimmer Jamie Peterkin, who alongside his dad and former coach, David, made an endearing double act.
“As for the race itself, the two-lap swim is a joy compared to murky British ponds, and the four-lap run is a flat, predominantly tarmac, out-and-back that takes you alongside the ocean. “The after-race bash is worth hanging around for, a barbecue buffet served up on the lawns of the hotel, where the local Piton beer and spiced Chairman’s rum flows as the sun goes down and most of the triathletes find themselves back in the water – just fully clothed this time.
Next year’s Tri St Lucia is scheduled for Saturday, November 21. For more information visit: www.tristlucia.com