What’s the attraction
With perfect open water swimming conditions, the start on Seven Mile Beach is about as good as triathlon gets. Add a pan flat bike route and a run that finishes right on Seven Mile beach and the event is the perfect introduction to triathlon. The full triathlon incorporates a 1500m swim, a 40km cycle and a 10km run. Fortunately, if those distances seem a bit extreme, there is also the option of competing in the sprint distance event, which includes a ‘mere’ 750m swim, a 20km cycle and a 5km run. Those with no interest in swimming or cycling can take part in a the final leg of the full-distance triathlon and just enter for the 10km run.
Take to the water
The swim leg of the triathlon takes place in the warm and crystal clear waters off Public Beach. Cayman is internationally recognised for having some of the best open water swimming conditions in the world. However, that can be distracting, as a number of visiting athletes have remarked that they get so distracted by the beautiful tropical fish that can be seen along the swim route that they quite forget to race. Although the swim is the one part of a triathlon that intimidates many prospective triathletes, it is by far the shortest of the three events, so even a weak swimmer can still finish with a quite respectable time. However, it is often said that a triathlon is not won on the swim, but can be lost there, so it is important not to go out too hard and exhaust yourself completely. After all, there are still two challenging events to come.
Out on the road
The second leg of the triathlon is the cycle leg. This is the longest leg in both distance and time so it is important to be well prepared. Check that your bike is in good working order, as a well lubricated chain and properly inflated tyres can make the bike leg that much easier. Keep in mind that there will be many cyclists on the road as well as faster cyclists who could come flying past from behind, so always keep your eyes open. Many people go out too hard at the beginning of the bike leg and end up fading towards the end. If you push too hard on the bike, your running will suffer as well, so keep in mind that there is still another leg of the event to go. Taking enough fluids and energy on board during the bike leg is very important as well. If you start the run with an empty tank, you should prepare yourself for a long, long walk. Dehydration can have a very negative impact on performance as well, especially in the heat of Cayman.
The final event of the triathlon is the run and although running comes naturally to most, this is widely acknowledged as the most challenge part of the triathlon as you are already exhausted when you start. Good pacing during the rest of the race will really start to show here, as those who went out too hard on the bike will start to fade and soon slow to a crawl, literally and figuratively. As the day starts getting hotter towards the latter part of the run, it is very important to keep on drinking to help your body stay hydrated. Also keep in mind that there is no shame in walking – the aim is to finish the event, not kill yourself trying to finish it in style.
The fourth leg
It is often said that there is a fourth leg to triathlon – the transitions between the other three legs. Any time saved putting on your helmet and shoes for the bike leg is free speed as you don’t have to work any harder to do it faster. The same goes for the transition from cycling to running. However, it is very important to keep your feet free of sand when you put on your running shoes, as even a little bit of sand in your shoes can become very uncomfortable as the run wears on. You might see some of the faster and more experienced triathletes get their feet out of their cycling shoes while they are still speeding along on the bike and then doing a flying dismount as they enter transition. Even though this is faster, trying this technique without ample training and great bike handling is more likely to cost you some skin than save you a couple of seconds.
Although completing a triathlon on your own is appealing, many athletes would rather focus on their favourite sport. With that in mind, teams of two or three members can also take part in the event. The organisers even offer a ‘matchmaking’ service for anyone looking for a cyclist, runner or swimmer. Get on the list by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Build up to the big day
One of the best ways to prepare for a triathlon is to do a triathlon, which is why a series of three build-up triathlons will take place in the weeks leading up to the main event. The first will take place on 17 October, followed by another two weeks later on 31 October and a final tune-up event on 14 November. The distances go up every two weeks, a shorter build-up event available for those training for the sprint distance triathlon rather than the full distance event. The build-up events represent approximately 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 distance of the full or sprint event.
The advantage of participating in the training events is that it allows you to practice the transition from one sport to another. Putting on a pair of shoes may seem simple now, but when you are tired and sweaty after cycling and in a hurry, it can become a major hurdle.
Race day tips
The most important tip for race day is to remember to pack all the gear you will need – goggles for the swim, shoes, a helmet and of course a bike for the cycling, and a pair of running shoes for the final slog to the line. Also make a point of staying well hydrated. Even though late November is already much cooler than high summer, dehydration is always a risk and it can have a very negative impact on your performance.
The Cayman Islands Triathlon, sponsored by Krys & Associates, is set to take place on Sunday 28 November. Entries for the event is open already. The entry fee for the Olympic distance event is US$75 for individuals or US$150 for teams. The sprint distance event is US$50 for individuals or US$100 for teams, while entries for the 10km run is US$30. The entry fee includes a race shirt and refreshments on the beach after the event. WH
For more information on the event as well as online entry, visit triathlon.ky