The Cayman triathlon scene is evidently in fine shape, judging by one of the relative novices already qualifying for international competition.
Four members of the Flashy Nation group – a group of Caymanian youngsters who train and encourage each other – competed in an Olympic length triathlon to see who gets to represent Cayman in Mexico next month.
Darrel “DJ” MacLaren Evans Jr. was the first home in an unspecified time ahead of Samuel Young, Marlon Crowe Jr. and Kevin Connolly. The race at Public Beach last week was monitored by the Cayman Islands Triathlon Association and the Olympic Committee.
Evans competes in Monterrey on Sept. 7 in the 1500 meters swim, 40km bike and 10km run.
He was disappointed that the splits were not recorded nor his finishing time but is relieved nevertheless at earning his spot. Two years ago, when Evans got serious about health and fitness, there was no vision of representing Cayman as a triathlete so soon. In fact, he barely knew what the sport entailed.
“If you told me about triathlon back then, I wouldn’t have known entirely what you were talking about.”
Basketball and football were main interests growing up and running was given a wide berth because he wasn’t fast.
Evans did his first marathon team relay of roughly 6.2 miles in 2012, but finished injured, reinforcing his dislike of running.
Another Flashy Nation triathlete, Pedro Ramos, was only cycling at the time. Evans started riding with him and immediately gravitated towards the bike for cross training.
By this time last year, as the Stroke and Stride series approached, Flashy Nation decided to participate and Evans fell in love with the swim despite its technical demands.
Evans entered his first tri, the Cayman Islands one, last November, ignoring the sprint distance for the full Olympic.
Afterwards, Flashy Nation thought that all four could enter the Monterrey event but after applying for the slots, the local Olympic Committee clarified the situation, that only one was eligible.
Triathlon coach William Balderamos contacted them a couple of months ago to train all four.
A few days before the race, Evans bumped into triathlon master Marius Acker and he offered his experience in race settings.
“He gave me some insight into how I should approach the swim part because that’s the weaker of the three disciplines for me,” Evans said.
“I was also flying blind on race day which meant no miles per hour gauge on the bike nor running watch.
“Approaching the day of the qualifier, I believed it would take more than physical ability. I bought every piece of heart I could find. This was a very unique setting in the way that it was just four friends racing with the officials’ eyes on us all day.”
The race was really competitive, in sweltering conditions. Balderamos said that everyone had a shot so Evans attacked every discipline, ignoring thought of burning out and fading. It worked perfectly.
This victory was all the more sweet because his family had secretly circulated an email encouraging as many as possible to turn up to support him and Young, which intensified the excitement and got the adrenalin flowing even faster.
Evans is ecstatic. In Monterrey he expects an extremely competitive field, possibly at altitude, which means it will be a tougher race but he will go into the event with the mindset to win.
“The triathlon is a long race and there’s a lot of variables that can make or break someone’s day,” he said.
“I believe that you race yourself when the gun goes off and you leave it all on the course. If this gives you a win on the day, then great.”
The 31-year-old auto body repair technician works with his father’s company Complete Auto Service.
“Customer service has been a standing passion of mine so I have been furthering my expertise by online schooling,” Evans said. “I want to explore my opportunities in the hospitality management industry and maybe real estate but I’m currently weighing up my options.”
He wants to continue representing Cayman whenever the opportunity presents itself but his personal goal is the gruesome Ironman Championship in Kona Hawaii, 2016. Ironman events are the most challenging of multi-sport races; comprising a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a full marathon of 26.2 miles, usually in scorching conditions.
“I’ve always wanted to visit Hawaii and I didn’t know why,” Evans said. “When I fell in love with triathlon last year, I then understood and the dots connected. It is very tough to get a slot in Kona but I will be in the field 2016.”
He added that he wants to encourage everyone to take care of their health, always be positive and never stop dreaming.
“You are the vision of yourself.”