Summed up in one word, the race was brutal! In the days leading up, even the locals were saying that it was unseasonably warm. Throw in the strong trade winds and hills and you’ve got one of the toughest triathlons anywhere. I put together a decent day, here’s how it played out:

We had a beach start and a turn buoy to manage within the first 25 meters, making the start all the more critical. I lined up on the outside with Ryan Power, an ITU athlete from Canada, and sprinted to the buoy. Just after the turn, I found myself with 2 other athletes and swam with them. On the way in, I tried picking up the pace, but couldn’t get the separation I was looking for, so I settled and came in a few seconds ahead.

On a side note, this was my first swim wearing just my Kiwami Amphibian. The suit is wicked fast and comfortable! Worried about swim-skins being phased out later this year? Don’t be, check out Kiwami’s tri suits. Your transitions will also be faster and you’ll stand out. See photo above.

By the time I hit the bike course, it was already hot. I forgot to grab my salt tablets in transition, so I drank everything I could grab going through aid stations. Finding a rhythm was significantly easier on the first quarter of the bike course, but once you hit The Beast at mile 20, then the real race began. The climb is tough, but the descent is just as hard. My hands were dripping with sweat coming over the summit and then we had to descend a windy, rough road on slick handlebars – not the most enjoyable part of the course. After that, the course opens up and you get to battle more hills, more heat, and a lot of wind! Fortunately, I didn’t have to ride alone the entire time and caught another athlete. We maintained 7 meters, but I did the bulk of the work.

Starting the run, I had figured I was in the second position (which turned out to be correct). I was feeling good, but I also was running through crowd-lined streets. Once away from the crowds, I really started to feel the heat. The run course is more protected, so we had little to no wind and temperature around 98ยบ (plus humidity). At this point, I knew I needed keep my body as cool as possible and get calories in. I had my good spots, but had some pretty bad ones too. Approaching the turn-a-round for the second lap, I saw Rodrigo Acevedo, who was ahead of me by 90 seconds or so. Wanting the win, I dug a little deeper and started the second lap a bit faster, but ended up paying for that decision shortly thereafter – that was one of the bad spots. I did what I could to keep it together, but I had no idea if I was gaining (or losing) any time. After summating the last hill on the run course a little over a mile out, I found another gear and ran home strong. With a half-mile to go, I saw Rodrigo ahead and continued to push, but was out of real estate.

I finished 2nd in my age group, down 33 seconds to first, and 19th overall (8th amateur). I’m pleased with how the day unfolded, but can’t help but think about those 33 measly seconds. Winning an event like this goes to the person who had the fewest rough patches. I guess I had one too many.

Overall, my experience on St. Croix was absolutely amazing. I would come back to this event in a heartbeat! The island seems to shut down on race day and focus on the event. The crowd lined streets were something else too! Coming in, the cheers were nearly deafening. Or maybe it seemed that way because of the heat messing with my body. Regardless, St. Croix is a terrific venue, with amazing people, and is one you should add to your race schedule.