Netherlands Antilles Triathlon Championships, St.Maarten
It has been a very busy last few weeks for the boys from Nevis, this time the action was in Dutch Sint Maarten, as they held there annual selection event for their commonwealth games qualifier, the top male and female Antilles champion going on to represent the entire Netherlands Antilles. Nevis recieved its invitation as it has attended this event before, team members Reggie Douglas and James Weekes were in Olympic class, Keith Jones and Winston Crooke in Sprint, representing Nevis. The competition was based at the Flamingo Beach Resort and started at 6.45am on Sunday morning, the water was fairly calm with a moderate current for the triangular swim course, with over 80 athletes in total, Olympic, Sprint and relay teams all starting together. Reggie, determined to make up for Tobago set off at a good pace leaving James behind this time, Keith and Winston in the sprint class were the first team members out of the water after one lap, with Winston just edging Keith on the swim leg. They came into transition together with Winston leaving just ahead, however Keith easily caught and passed Winston on the hill just outside the transition area, to lead out onto the flat bike course taking them along Simpson Bay Boulevard for two laps of their 20km bike course. Winston and Keith had a lot of work to do as usual to catch the faster swimmers ahead of them, but catch and pass them they did, although Winston could not make back any of the ground he had lost to keith on the only hill on the course. As Winston and Keith were going into their last lap so Reggie and eventually James came onto the bike course to play catch up with the Olypic swimmers ahead of them (we really have to work on our swimming!) but they both dug deep and used the four laps of their course to achieve just that with Reggie coming in 7th or 8th off the bike and James just a couple behind. In the sprint distance event which was being led by Sint Maartens Gary Howkins, Keith had done a fabulous job of catching and passing others to bring him onto the run course with just a few athletes ahead of him, Winston meanwhile, had also made good ground on the bike and went into the run fairly strong. Keith set on at his now familiar hot pace to chase down anyone ahead of him to bring him in 1st place in his 30-39 age group, and third overall, another fabulous effort from Keith. Winston had a good run leg to give him 3rd in the 40-49 age group and 12th overall.
Over to Reggie and James in the Olympic class, Reggie had set out at a moderate pace on the run as is his style, looking to increase his pace and speed as the race progressed, James, who is coming back to his former fitness lit out to on the run course like a freight train, passing two athletes within the first 200 metres. For the spectators and runners it was a good running course with 6 laps for the Olympic athletes allowing the spectators to ssee the athletes progress easily, the pace was being set by eventual winner Francois Roussas of Guadeloupe, and 2nd placed Filip Lauwers of Aruba, they were the rabbits being chased by the hounds. In the 3rd lap Reggie started to get stomach cramps and had to slow down till he recovered, James however just looked strong the whole time his pace not dropping at all, however after Reggie had a little rest and some sustainence all seemed to be well and he was soon back into his loping, ground eating stride, it would all come down to who had the most left at the last lap. It was James who triumphed, passing Reggie on the way up to the last turnaround he forged ahead, taking 5th in his tough 30-39 age group and 8th overall, he is definately on his way back.However, coming back to the finish Reggie found an extra gear to come in just one second behind James, which gave him 3rd in his 20-29 age group and 9th overall. It must be said that once again our tiny island was represented in fine style and made their prescence felt. It was a very well organised and very competitive course that allowed for some fast times, we at the Nevis Cycle & Triathlon Club wish to thank FITA for their hospitality once again, we will be back!. The guys now prepare for the hardest race of the year the John T Memorial 85 mile Road Race to be held in Anguilla on July 3rd, wish them well.