They really tried their best

Five Cayman triathletes competed in
the ESI Ironman 70.3 in Augusta, Georgia, last month with mixed results.

The event comprised a 1.2 mile
swim, a 56 mile bike and a 13.1 mile run, adding up to a total distance of 70.3
miles. (Ironman 70.3 now refers to what used to be called half-Ironman events.)

The top performer on 26 September
from Cayman was Ray Welds, who completed the event in 4:48:16, placing 39th in
the men’s 35-39 division and 249th overall out of a field of over 2,500
finishers. For someone who is a recent convert to triathlon, Welds has made the
step up to the longer distances very quickly and very successfully.

Johan Heath, competing in the men’s
30-34 age group, finished in 4:49:01 for 54th in his age group and 261st
overall. The time was a new personal best by 11 minutes for Heath, and included
a 22:14 swim, good enough for sixth in his age group after completion of the
swim.

However, the bike leg presented a
number of challenges, not the least of which was a number of hills, something
that is tough to train for in Cayman.

“It rained a fair amount during the
bike leg of the race which made the downhills and sharp corners pretty risky. I
was not taking any risks and guess I lost about two minutes just taking it
slower on the downhills and corners,” said Heath.

After what he considered to be a
fair bike, but still a personal best, it was on to the run.

“Overall I was really happy with my
run split of 1:46. Thinking about it afterwards I definitely think I could have
pushed it slightly harder and possibly have done 1:44 on the run. Well, guess
there will always be a next race I can try and improve on,” he said.

Heath was very happy with his race
and time overall.

“I achieved new personal bests in
each three of the disciplines which is encouraging and a good enough reason for
me to carry doing triathlon as I don’t feel that I have reached a plateau yet
and I’m still incredibly passionate about the sport.”

Bill Edwards, competing in the
men’s 40-44 age group, also had a very good race, with excellent times on the
bike and the run. However, his swim was a touch slower than he might have
liked, and he ended up finishing just over the five-hour barrier in 5:02:49.

Regular Ironman competitor Justine
Plenkiewicz had a great race in the women’s 30-34 age group. Her time of
5:35:25 came on the back of a strong 3:01:24 bike and a very good 1:58:35 run.

Celine Macken competed in the
women’s 50-54 division, but unlike the rest of her Cayman counterparts, she did
not have the best race.

“I thought I was well prepared and
was quite looking forward to the event. However, I didn’t do a pre-race swim in
the river, so the cold of the river threw me totally off. I just couldn’t get
my breathing right for about half a mile and DNF thoughts were rampant,”
recalled Macken.

After a nasty crash last year in
which she broke her arm, Macken is still a little nervous on the bike, which
was made even worse by the wet weather.

“It didn’t help that I didn’t put
my wheels in right so the brakes kept rubbing, so I was on and off my bike a
few times before they were right. It was the middle of the bike ride before I
got into the right frame of mind,” she said.

Once she reached the run, things
started going a little better for Macken.

“I hadn’t planned on a fast run,
but being overcast did help and the two-loop course with plenty of spectators
and people on the course made it easier,” she said.

In spite of the challenges faced
during the event, Macken does not see her race only in negative terms.

“All in all I am disappointed with
the result but pleased in another way at having overcome my negativity during
the race and not allowing myself a DNF result.”

The next challenge
for many of these competitors will be the Cayman Islands Triathlon, which is
set to take place on 28 November.