Take up Triathlon

For many, triathlon is the ultimate endurance sport challenge, combining swimming, cycling and running in a nonstop event in which participants challenge themselves and the elements.

 This year’s Cayman Islands Triathlon, sponsored by Krys Global, will take place on 6 November and participants have a choice of two distances – the Olympic distance event featuring a 1,500 metre swim, a 40 kilometre bike and a 10 kilometre run, or the slightly less challenging ‘sprint’ distance (which involves no sprinting whatsoever really) at ‘only’ 800 metres for the swim, 20 kilometres for the bike and 5 kilometres for the run.

 Athletes can take part as individuals or members of a team, with one athlete completing each leg of the event.

 The triathlon will start with a swim off Seven Mile Public Beach, with the warm and usually calm waters presenting athletes with the perfect opportunity for a fast yet scenic swim. Numerous visiting athletes have admitted to being distracted by the colourful fish swimming by during the event, as this is something very few triathlons can boast. It is often said that triathlons are never won in the swim, but are often lost there. This is especially true for beginners who may be tempted to try and hang with the faster swimmers and then end up not being able to complete the swim. It is very important to find a pace you are comfortable with and stick to it, rather than trying to do too much too soon.

 After the swim participants will sprint across the beach to the transition area, where team participants will tag their cyclists, while individuals will try to make as quick a transition to the cycling leg of the event.

 The cycling route has been changed for the 2011 edition, resulting in a course that is likely to be quite a bit more technical than previous editions. The changes were made with rider safety in mind, but organisers are urging all participants to remain vigilant, as the event will take place on roads open to traffic. Many new triathletes make the mistake of going out too hard on the bike leg and then end up paying for it during the run, when they lose all the time they gained on the bike and then some. Pacing is vital, so keep in mind that there is still another leg of the event to come.

 Once triathletes make it back to transition, it’s off with the helmet and on with the trainers as the final leg of the triathlon rolls around. One of the worst moments in any triathlon is the first couple of wobbly steps out of transition. Beginners might not be familiar with the feeling, and often believe that they must have done something wrong on the bike. Don’t worry, everyone feels that way.

 Even seasoned triathletes find that their legs have turned to jelly after the bike, but they know that running through it will soon have them back on track. As the run is the final event of the triathlon, the heat is likely to start building, so taking water at the water points and keeping well hydrated is very important.

 The entry fee for the event is $50 for the sprint distance event, $75 for the Olympic distance, and $150 for teams.

 For more information, e-mail [email protected] WH

Nutrition is a vital element of a triathlon and getting it right on the day takes work.

Test it in training
Never use a product you have never tried before on race day, as your body is under enough stress already without having to cope with something new. Always test any drink, gel or snack in training.

In the heat of competition it is easy to forget to drink. However, it can cost you dearly, as dehydration will not only rob you of performance but could be very dangerous as well. Drink regularly on the bike, even if you do not feel particularly thirsty as this will help your performance on the run.

Different strokes
There is no one size fits all solution for triathlon nutrition. If something works for you in training, there is no reason to throw it out just because a faster triathlete uses something else.

 The transition
If there is such a thing as free speed in a triathlon, it is in the transition area. Setting up your gear to make it easy to transition from swimming from cycling and from cycling to running can save minutes on your time.

Remember where your bike is in the transition area
All too often you will see triathletes wandering around transition like zombies, trying to remember where they parked their bike.

Ready to rock
See to it that everything is set up the way you need it – that means all straps open, all buckles undone and everything ready to slip on and go.

Suit up
Investing in the right gear can definitely save a lot of time – a proper trisuit which can be used for swimming, cycling and running will save a lot of time compared to slipping a pair of cycling shorts over your swimsuit before biking, and then putting on running shorts for the run leg.