The annual duathlon is on this Sunday and although there are so many early morning sporting events on the calendar now, this is one weekend warriors rarely miss.
That’s because the 2-mile run from Grand Harbour, back for a 12-mile bike, and then another 2-mile run is such a lung-buster that the relative short distance for triathletes is nevertheless a stern test for even the super-fit.
It also serves as an excellent training event for those preparing for much longer, more gruelling events.
Justine Plenkiewicz is a keen triathlete, particularly good on bike and running. She is in Sunday’s Genesis Trust Duathlon but has been training for a scary Ironman, in Texas, on May 17. Last year, she came second in the duathlon, which is organized by the Cayman Islands Triathlon Association.
The Ironman distance is a triathlete’s Holy Grail, consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, then a 112-mile bike before a full 26.2 mile marathon to ensure any finishers suffering from insomnia will sleep like a log the following fortnight.
The most recent Ironman World Championship in Hawaii last October was won by Frederik Van Lierde of Belgium in 8 hours, 12 minutes, 29 seconds and the women’s race by Australian Mirinda Carfrae in 8:52:14.
Completing an Ironman, which can take more than 14 hours for newcomers, earns tremendous bragging rights in the triathlon community.
“I think I’m in pretty good shape but a bit tired because I am coming to the end of a heavy training cycle,” Plenkiewicz said.
“The duathlon is hard for me because I’ve been focusing on long-course training since January. It will be fun to do something short but lung-busting intense.”
When not competing, Plenkiewicz also helps organize events like the Mercuryman triathlon in East End in January and the Wednesday Night Running Club Handicap races at the end of the year.
Despite its demands on mind and body, the triathlon scene is growing exponentially in Cayman.
“I think there are a lot more triathletes because this island is great for triathlon,” she said. “The Triathlon Association events get better every year and there are a lot of training groups that people can join to learn how to swim, bike and run.
“The sport is becoming much more inclusive in Cayman and there a lot of great role models and mentors to help beginners. We have built a fantastic tri community here.”