Netherlands Antilles Triathlon Championship
I made my first trip to the island of St. Maarten for the Netherlands Antilles Triathlon Championship held Sunday, June 4, 2006. The race was put on by The Friendly Island Triathlon Association (FITA). The racecourse, registration (which was Saturday), and post-race festivities all centered around Simpson Bay and the Flamingo Resort.
Race morning I arrived at the transition area about an hour before the 6:30am race start to find myself the first one there. Good, I had prime pickings for a transition area spot. After getting set-up, body marking, and an ample warm-up it was time to start. The course was a bit confusing because it contained multiple loops, and my only thought was that I hope I don’t forget a lap and get DQ’d.
The swim was a two-loop triangular course in Simpson Bay. The water was fairly calm, clear, and a good temperature. Only three buoys were set out to mark the course, and they were white, which made sighting a bit difficult. Luckily I lined them up with objects on the shore and made quick work of the swim, coming out just a few seconds behind the first place woman. There was a short run through the grounds of the hotel to the transition area.
The bike course was five loops of and out and back course along the main road that paralled the airport. The road was a bit bumpy at places and had some speed bumps to contend with. Upon hitting one of the early bumps I lost a water bottle and had to go back for it. Oh well, just a few seconds lost. The course was mainly flat, but did have a strong head wind at places. Out of the women, the top three of us were all within a minute or two of each other on the bike so I knew it would all come down to the run.
The run was a six-lap out and back on a residential road near the hotel. There was a small incline entirely for one direction and thus a gradual downhill the other. At about mile three I noticed the first place woman was walking. I briefly chatted with her as I ran by; she had a cramp and was dropping out. This put me in first place. However, I did notice the woman directly behind was slowing gaining on me. I just kept pushing but around mile five she passed me and I knew I could not hang with her. I finished second overall.
The race concluded with a wonderful breakfast complete with champagne, fresh-backed pastries, and sandwiches galore. The awards were medals, and award winners got to stand on a podium to accept their prizes, which I thought was a nice touch. The race director Pablo made every athlete feel welcome and did a great job organizing the race. Hats off to all of the volunteers who helped out. And a big thank you to the Nevis Cycle & Triathlon Team sponsor B-Mobile for their continued support.