Monday, January 26, 2015

Mercuryman Triathlon Race Report

The Mercuryman Triathlon is a half ironman distance race on Grand Cayman Island. If you're looking for a small town race in a tropical paradise in January, this is it. The host hotel is the Reef Resort, which makes race day super simple. Wake up, open the front door and there is transition. Walk out the back door to the beach and there's the swim start. No race-day travel chaos.

Pre-race briefing (photo: Jason Lentzke)
Photo: Jason Lentzke
The swim is two loops in beautiful clear water (I tried to focus on swimming and not looking at fish, but at times it was difficult). The water isn't too deep, so you can see the bottom the entire time. There was a minor current, so one direction seemed to fly and the other took a bit longer.

Photo: Jason Lentzke
This is super-swimmer Emily exiting the water. I'm still back between the two buoys in the background. I did come out of the water 2nd!! However, I was a full four minutes behind Emily... My swim time / run to transition was 33.

Photo: Jason Lentzke
The bike is two loops of the east end of the island on nice roads. I set to work trying to make up some time lost in the swim. I drank a lot because it was quite warm, and I am not heat acclimated at this time of year. It's a small island, so there weren't crowds of cheering people, but I did have a few roosters cheer for me, along with some locals who were on their way to church. The bike went by quickly. I was passed by two girls and tried to go with them, but in the end had to remind myself it is January and very early season and I would be smart to race my own race on this day. I rode 2:30.

Photo: Jason Lentzke
The run consists of three out-and-back loops. Aid stations every mile were stocked with ice and drinks and I looked forward to each and every one. My favorite was the mid-loop aid station where a local woman was so incredibly animated every time I went by (yelling "You go girlfriend! You are owning this course!") I actually did momentarily think I was Super Woman. Outside a local restaurant where they were frying up fish a man sat on a bar stool with a hose to spray us down each time we plodded past. Local school kids handed me sponges and yelled to go faster because someone was chasing me! I loved the island.

Run Course Photo: Jason Lentzke
I ran a 1:40 and finished 4th in 4:45. Definitely not a spectacularly speedy time, but I was happy with the effort given that it is January and I have a long season ahead of me. I loved the small race atmosphere and let's be honest - nothing beats racing on an Island in January!

Photo: Jason Lentzke
This is the finish line. And right behind it is the room I stayed in. Talk about easy!

Pro women post-race jump into the ocean!
I've done quite a few races over the years and these are a few of the reasons I would definitely come back and race here again:
  • The race is run by a non-profit organization. All proceeds went to a local school on the island and the Estella-Scott Roberts Foundation, which advocates equality for women and young girls.
  • An island. In January.
  • The race is small and capped at several hundred people - so it has the small town race feel and there is no worry about getting clobbered during the swim start.
  • No stress - it's on an island. And literally transition is in the parking lot out the front door, swim start in the back of the hotel. So. Very. Easy.
  • Diverse - I raced with locals, expats, vacationers from the midwest. And post race we sat around sharing race adventures and enjoying a meal.
  • Attention to detail - Post race I was speaking with some volunteers who told me the day before the race they went around to all the houses on the bike loop and asked the locals to please keep their dogs tied up on race day to keep the course safe.
Emily (winner! and good friend) and I post race.
A huge THANK YOU to Mercuryman for supporting women in sport and helping to host such an amazing event.  And to my sponsors:
Zoot - fast shoes that drain when I dump water on my head nonstop, a great speedsuit, awesome training and racing apparel.  
Microscope World - a great company.
Profile Design - Thank you for the incredible support!! I love the Aero HC system.
Powerbar - gels, hydration and recovery for ultimate performance.
Nytro - awesome local bike shop!
Extreme Endurance - thanks for helping me race, recover and repeat!
Rudy Project - great helmets and sunglasses, awesome colors!
Bont - best cycling shoes around. 

Next up is Challenge Wanaka (full - yikes!) in New Zealand in less than a month.