Turtles will never try this!

Anyone thinking of taking up triathlon – swimming, cycling and running – must feel totally uneasy when they really assess the challenge.

This often frightens away newcomers to the sport, who find the distances involved in an Olympic distance triathlon too intimidating.

Fortunately the organisers of the Turtle Tri, on 23 November, have put a series of build-up races in place to allow newcomers to slowly build up to race distance, while also allowing seasoned competitors to sharpen their race form.

In the light of the great success enjoyed by the recently concluded Ogier Stroke and Stride series, the organisers of the build-up races and the Turtle Tri believe that this year may well see an increase in numbers as more participants take the plunge.

The series of build-up races kicks off on Sunday 12 October with two race distances on offer.

The participants preparing for the sprint distance race in the Turtle Tri can take part in a shorter triathlon composed of a 200 metre swim, a 5 kilometre cycle and a 1.25 kilometre run.

Those tuning up for the Olympic distance Turtle Tri can try their hand at a 400 metre swim, 10 kilometre cycle and 2.5 kilometre run.

The swim portion of the races will take place at Public Beach, with the transition area on Governor’s Way.

The cycle route will take cyclists along the bypass with the number of loops depending on race distance, while the run will take place along Governor’s way and the bypass.

Entry fee for each build-up race is CI$4 per race, with registration for all three races available for $10.

Race registration is from 6:30am at the race venue, with the start scheduled for 7:00am. All participants will be assigned a number for the duration of the series and body marking will take place.

Last year’s Turtle Tri winner was US-based Brit Stephen Smith, who is a former multiple world champion. First local amateur home was Marius Acker who finished second. The team event was won by the Cayman-based side Matthew Courtis (swim), Jerome Ameline (bike) and Russell Coleman (run).

Ameline is confident that they are going to retain their title. Considering Courtis was only 12 last year and has improved considerably since, that is a possibility. But they will be hard pushed again by the mixed team winners of Summer Flowers (swim), Gary Clarke (bike) and Scott Brittain (run). ‘We’re going to kick ass again,’ insisted Ameline.

For Chuck Cobo, a newcomer to the triathlon scene, these races provide the ideal opportunity to ready himself for the Turtle Tri.

‘Triathlons, and triathlon training, may not seem like much fun at first glance. However, they are, partly because the three different disciplines give them variety,’ says Cobo.

Although many triathletes may seem rather reclusive due to their attempts to fit training for three sports around work and family, Cobo believes that once you get to know them they are quite nice people.

‘The triathlon community on this island, as well as the three communities of the respective disciplines, are very welcoming and accessible to all skill levels,’ he says.

As someone who has been an active runner for quite a while, Cobo finds triathlons provide a good change from running.

‘Marathons and half-marathons are wonderful, but the only problem is that they can adversely impact the body, through all the pounding on the joints.

‘However, this is not the case with the Olympic triathlon for example, even though it can be just as intense a workout, or even more so. Triathlons also work one’s entire body intensively.’

For more experienced triathletes, the build-up events also provide the ideal opportunity to practice their transitions between swimming, cycling and running.

In a sport where split seconds can decide the race, a smooth transition from swimming to cycling can make a big difference.

Struggling to put on running shoes after the cycle leg can also cost a contender the race and there is no better way to ensure a smooth transition than by practicing through participating in the build-up series.

The second build-up race is on 26 October, with the same venue and routes being involved.

However, on the second go around, race distances increase with the shorter race featuring a 375 metre swim, a 10 kilometre cycle and a 2.5 kilometre run.

The longer race will consist of a 750 metre swim, a 20 kilometre cycle and a 5 kilometre run, equivalent to a sprint distance triathlon, or half the distance in the Olympics.

The final build-up race is set for 9 November, two weeks before the main event.

The shorter of the two race distances will feature a 500 metre swim, 15 kilometre cycle and 3.75 kilometre run, with the longer race featuring a 1,000 metre swim, a 30 kilometre cycle and a 7.5 kilometre run.

The build-up races are not only for individual participants, with teams also being encouraged to come out and work on their race tactics for the Turtle Tri.

It may also prove a good place for prospective Turtle Tri team members to find others interested in participating.

The Turtle Tri itself will feature a number of race related events in the days leading up to the race, including a triathlon training camp from 20-22 November, presented by Ironguides, an online triathlon training company.

More information on the training camp is available on www.ironguides.com.

Saturday 22 November will feature a race briefing and pre-race pasta buffet at the official race hotel, the Courtyard Marriott, starting at 5:30 pm.

The race the next day starts with the swim at 6:45am. At the conclusion of the race, there will be a barbeque and awards ceremony at Calico Jack’s.

Participants should be aware that the use of cycling helmets are mandatory for all the build-up races as well as the Turtle Tri itself.

Organisers are also appealing for anyone interested in being involved in the event but not feeling quite up to the challenge to volunteer to help.

‘We need about 80 volunteers. It’s a lot of people, but at the end of the day we do a pretty good job. We can always have more though,’ says race organiser Polly Cox.

Entries for the Turtle Tri will be accepted at all the build-up races, with entry forms and race information available at www.turtletricayman.com. Any specific questions can be directed to [email protected].