Simon Lowe – Race Report

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For me the main event of the 2013 Great Abaco Fitness Weekend was the Olympic distance triathlon, covering a 1.5k swim, 40k bike and 10k run.

I arrived at the Treasure Cay Resort on early Friday evening, having taken the ferry from Nassau and driven up to Treasure Cay with my girlfriend Alanna, father, Greg, and my friend Simon Darville, who was kind enough to arrange for us to have a truck to drive up bikes and gear. We arrived just in time for the start of the one mile Open Water Swim, which takes place on the stunning Treasure Cay beach. I was well tapered and feeling energetic so it took all my willpower not to go jump in and join the swim since the water looked so inviting, but I held back to save my strength for the tri early the next morning.

After the swim we had some hor d’oeuvres at the beach bar and then went for a pizza at the Spinnaker restaurant at the resort. Treasure Cay resort is a great location for a triathlon with a very relaxed ambiance to it. It is almost a fully self-contained community on a very large and well maintained property with its own food store, bank, restaurants, bars, liquor store etc.

On Saturday morning the alarm went off at 5.30 and I began making my pre-race breakfast of two bagels with a thick layer of peanut butter and some blueberry jam, along with some coffee. I got my tires pumped up and bike prepared on the doorstep of my room which overlooked the large and tranquil looking Treasure Cay marina.

At 6.30am Alanna, Simon, my dad and I headed to the transition area and got set up and body marked. The sunrise over Treasure Cay beach was a great way to start the day. Unfortunately we could also hear a distant rumble of thunder in the humid tropical air which was an indication of what was to come.

Race organizer Lee McCoy gave us a quick pre-race briefing and then we headed down to the beach. The majority of participants were doing the Sprint distance, with only a few doing the Olympic.

 
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At 7.30 the gun went off and we plunged into the cool waters, which must have been around 70 degrees; a perfect temperature for an energetic swim. Peter Wagner immediately pulled away at the front while I swam close to Michelle Lakin Hope for the first five minutes or so before she pulled away, leaving me to complete the 1500m by myself. I settled into a good rhythm and concentrated on lengthening my stroke, maintaining good form and keeping my heart rate at an aerobic level to save energy for what was to come. I kept sighting every minute or so to ensure I didn’t veer off course, but the sea was nice and flat so it wasn’t hard to keep track of where the marker buoys were. I knew I was having a good swim for me when I hit the turn-around buoy at just under 13 minutes. I tried to stay relaxed and made it back to the start point in around 26.30. I then had a 45 second run up the beach to transition for a total swim split of 27.15 or so.

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As I entered transition there was a volunteer with a hose to spray me off, a nice touch because it’s never nice to slip into bike shoes with sandy feet.

Transition went well and I was soon on the bike heading out towards the exit of the resort and onto the highway. There were lots of sprint participants I had to pass and I concentrated on giving them plenty of room to avoid any pile ups on the by now wet and slippery road. The light wind was behind me on the way out so I was thrilled to see my speed sticking at 24 m.p.h or so. Once I got past the sprint turn around the road was much more quiet and I passed Michelle and then Peter shortly after this. Now I had the empty road all to myself and I focused on holding a steady power and cadence to eat up the miles on the long, flat, straight road. The views didn’t change much as I powered on with mile after mile of pine forest on both sides of the road. I passed the Treasure Cay airport at about 9 miles out then carried on for another 3.5 to the turn-around point. There were some volunteers there with drinks, but I had all I needed to drink on the bike.

As I turned around the light tail wind suddenly turned into a heavy head wind and my speed immediately dropped by about 3 m.p.h. dashing my hopes that I was about to break my 40k bike split record.

Heading back I passed all the other Olympic participants and we all waved at each other. At around 5 miles from the finish the wind suddenly got very strong for a few minutes and the cross winds started pushing me around a bit. I dug in and made it back to the entrance of the resort where the wind calmed down and I was able to get into transition after biking for 1.08 and an average speed of 21.9 m.p.h. and slip on my running shoes before heading out on the run as the light rain continued to come down.

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The run went through a pretty beachside neighbourhood adjoining Treasure Cay resort and was well supported with friendly volunteers offering drinks at 3 points throughout the course. The course was a 5k out and back affair with the Olympic racers having to do two laps. My legs felt pretty good off the bike but my heart rate was soon up near maximum. I wanted to break my PR of 2.24 and my pace was right on target for that time, so I knew that to break it I would just have to accept that I was going to have to go through 40 minutes or so of pain and just gut it out.

I carried a gel that I sipped from throughout the run and I reached out for the Gatorade offered by the volunteers twice. But with the cool rainy weather I didn’t need too much fluid to get through the race.

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The last 2k of the run was very tough but I managed to find an extra gear and speed up a bit to cross the line in 2.23 after a 44.44 run.

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I can highly recommend this race for triathletes looking for a fast, flat course with no road traffic to contend with. The roads around Treasure Cay are some of the best for time trialing I have seen.

The organization was impeccable and the chip timing system worked very well. The race is still small enough to have that relaxed and friendly vibe but it looks set to grow over the coming years.

Overall – 2:23:13
Swim – 27:39
T1 – 1:16
Bike – 1:08:13
T2 – 1:23
Run – 44:44

Editors Note:  The previous course record was set by Simon’s father, Greg Lowe, in 2012 with a time of 2:53:25. 

Written by Simon Lowe
Photographs by Phil Cumming, Chrystonia Robertson, and Timothy Roberts