This race had been described as being ‘relentless’ in the lead up to race weekend. Somebody had forgotten to mention it was going to include relentless rain! The preceding week had been beautifully sunny and warm but the race was certainly going to be a lot wetter.
Once racked and sorted out in transition this race involves a swim before the race has even started. The start line is on a small island a few hundred metres across from the mainland. Once at the start line I felt surprisingly relaxed and did have to do a double take when a certain Mr. Armstrong wandered past me. We started off in our age groups with a short sprint into the water before taking on the 1.2 mile non-wetsuit swim around the bay – unfortunately the water wasn’t as clear as it had been for the training swim when you could see stingrays swimming about underneath you. Slightly choppy water didn’t make for any super fast times but it was a good swim course that was reasonably easy to sight. I came out of the swim in 34:48.
Once out of the water and the rain was in full flow. A technical bike course with many freshly surfaced roads did not make for an easy wet ride with many people taking falls on the course. One thing that was missing was the wind that usually makes this race even tougher, but unfortunately The Beast still remained ever present to sap our legs (a 0.7 mile climb averaging 14% with a maximum of 21% incline). Certainly a testing bike course, but very scenic, and was amazing how much resurfacing was done specifically for this race (I had gone out the week before and blown both tyres on a large gaping trench that ran across one of the roads – luckily this was resurfaced, they’d also resurfaced speed bumps to make them smoother). A few mechanical issues with my gears didn’t help out on the course but I came in with a reasonable time (2:51:18 – including T1) ready to take on the run.
Once on to the run the rain finally stopped and the course started to heat up. The run consisted of a road run down to a local resort where you did a 2 mile lap around the outskirts of their golf club, you then ran back along the road to transition before repeating it all again and finally finishing off with a short stretch through the town to finish. A fairly testing run with the road sections being undulating and the golf course being a reasonably tough off road run with some steep inclines. I was running strong and was pleased to only be passed by Frederik Van Lierde (him being on his second lap whilst I was still on my first!). Felt strong throughout the run but the final kilometre through the town certainly felt like it went on forever, I was certainly pleased to have someone ready to help me stay standing when I reached the finish line! Run time clocked at 1:32:04 (including T2).
I finished in 4:58:10 coming 5th in my age group and 76th overall. A great race and very well organised. The atmosphere on St. Croix really gets you into race spirit and I highly recommend the race because it is a race that truly needs to be experienced to see how great it is.