Simon Darville – Sprint Triathlon Race Report
Main event: 2013 Sprint Triathlon consisting of a 500m swim, 20k bike and 5k run
I arrived in Treasure Cay, Abaco on Friday afternoon, the day before the start of the scheduled event, with friends Alanna Rodgers, Greg Lowe and Simon Lowe. Similarly to the general field of competitors, our group comprised a wide variety of skill levels; Greg, a salty veteran who had recently completed an Ironman. In Texas. During the summer. Simon, who is generally regarded as the country’s premier Triathlete and Alanna and myself, not quite rookies, but green enough to only have a few competitive races under our belts. The GAFFW events provided an excellent opportunity to complete a race in the most favourable of conditions; calm waters, flat, traffic-free roads and pleasant temperatures, which also allowed us as competitors to take the opportunity to set a bench-mark time for the distance of our choosing (sprint or Olympic).
The GAFFW offered a variety of races; a 1 mile open water swim on the Friday, sprint or Olympic distance tris on the Saturday and rounding out the weekend with a 5k and 10k road race on the Sunday. As we had left early on Friday from Nassau, taking a pickup filled to the brim with our equipment over via Bahamas Ferries, we arrived in time for the open water swim. Simon and myself decided to hold off on getting started until Saturday, but many others, including Alanna, began the weekend with the swim. Although calm, the visibility of the water was an issue and would affect my approach the next day.
The night before the race was generally unremarkable; carb loading, equipment checks and an early turn-in, not looking forward to a pitch-black 5am wakeup.
Saturday morning came quickly and after a breakfast of fruit, bagels and peanut butter we headed down to the transition area. My normal pre-race procedure is as follows;
- Prepare transition area with clean towel, water to clean feet, optional socks/knee brace and water/energy gels.
- Put on headphones blaring high-tempo music
- Put on shades to look cool
- Start stretching with a scowl on my face so it looks like I’m super serious and know what I’m doing.
- Realize I probably haven’t done enough swim training and make provisions in case I start to drown.
- Continue warm-up with ½ mile to 1 mile slow jog
- Consider faking an injury
- 5 – 10 minutes of warm-up in the water
- Accept my fate
About 20 minutes before the race was to start it became obvious that it was going to start raining. Thunder rolled in the distance and a light rain came down sporadically. Although this was not ideal for biking, it did help to cut the usual Bahamian heat/humidity.
The race started at 7:30 with the Olympic distance going first. A few minutes later the sprint distance competitors hit the water. Due to the issues of very low visibility, the close proximity of the swim course to the shore and the number of competitors, my strategy was to get out front immediately. As soon as the gun sounded to start, I hit the water as close to the start bouy as possible, headed away from shore a bit further than I expected most others would and sprinted the first 100 metres to break away from the pack. As the swim section of any triathlon is usually the one I come away from wishing I had been quicker in, my goal was to avoid being sucked into the middle of the pack, slowed down by the wake of other, quicker swimmers and being smacked in the face by flailing arms and feet. My quick start assisted with this, but made the final 100 metres a challenge energy-wise.
The transition was a bit longer and tougher than I had been used to; running up the beach through the sand and then down to the bikes, all in all about 50 yards. It was a quick transition for me, heading out on to the road prior to a few other competitors I had my eye on and was generally efficient save for inadvertently hurling my bike into the path of another (rather attractive) rider as we hit the road. -2 points for style.
The roads were slightly wet and although the condition was rather good, it was still necessary to avoid a few puddles which very well could have hidden pot holes. There was virtually no traffic at all and the first half of the ride for me was brilliant. I averaged a PB of 22mph, gained a few places and grew in confidence. By the time I arrived at the turn-around point I was more or less the next winner of the Tour-de-France. And then I hit the headwind on the way back. I very quickly realized that my powerful first half was strongly assisted by a very favourable tail-wind and the second half would be quite the opposite. I went from Lance Armstrong to Pee-Wee Herman in record time and averaged a weak 15mph on the return 10k. Tougher resistance training is in my near future.
The transition to the run was quick and painless. I prefer pedals that don’t require clip-in shoes, so I am able to move more much more seamlessly from bike to the run. The rain was still falling lightly which I enjoyed and felt definitely helped with over-all stamina. The run course meandered through a pretty beach/canal front neighbourhood with several water stations along the way. Being my strongest section, I made up many places and completed the run in approximately 24 minutes placing me 4th in the Men’s race.
The organizers of the race did a bang-up job and everything from start to finish from Friday through Sunday was done professionally and on time (a rare occurrence in our small country). The atmosphere of the events were friendly and full of laughs and smiles and looks to continue to be a popular event in years to come. I would highly recommend this race to triathletes of all skill levels especially to those who are new to the sport or want to try one for the first time. Treasure Cay is the place to do it. Special shout-out to Lee McCoy who made it all happen.
With some further dedication to stamina in the swim and improved resistance training on the bike, my goal is to finish sub 1hr 20mins on the next sprint distance event.