Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Mercuryman Triathlon

Drawing on Endurance Corner's collective years of experience and access to an extended network of some of the most knowledgeable racers, we wanted to provide our best recommendations for approaching some of the biggest races around the world.

Here, we profile the Mercuryman Triathlon half iron-distance race in the Cayman Islands.




You can't get much more of an "early season" race in the Northern Hemisphere than the Mercuryman Triathlon in the Cayman Islands in January. If you're considering a destination race to break up the winter doldrums, the Mercuryman certainly fits the bill.

Travel and Accomodations
The Cayman Islands are located in the Caribbean just south of Cuba. The race site is located on Grand Cayman at the east end of the island. Multiple US carriers fly to Grand Cayman (GCM). I recommend a rental car if you plan on seeing more of the island. Please note that you will need to purchase an international driver’s license, insurance on your rental car and be ready for the adventure of driving on the “wrong side of the road.”

I highly recommend staying at the Reef Resort. You can sleep as close to the start line as you desire and roll out of bed to the transition area. Love it!

Pre-Race Workouts

  • Swimming - Grand Cayman is one of the most beautiful swimming destinations in the world. You can swim in the clear blue waters on the course anytime you want.
  • Cycling - The race course is easy to ride for a preview and very popular in the cycling community. Dogs are few and far between. Just be aware of the chickens trying to cross the road... literally.
  • Running - It’s very easy to run on the race course at any time leading up to the event.

Weather
Expect sun, heat, humidity and wind; a terrific antidote to grey winter training. No wetsuit needed!

Race Morning
Rolling out of your hotel to the transition area is a bonus for extra sleep. Current time is Eastern Standard Time. You may want to bring a towel or small water bucket to rinse off the sand that will accumulate on your feet running to transition.

Swim
The swim is a counter clockwise triangle (direction dependent upon current direction). Expect to apply a bit more effort in the first section of the triangle as you swim into the current. The second length of the course will have a slight push to the right. Make sure you aim slightly left of the buoy towards the pier. After the second turn buoy you head towards the beach. This is a two loop course with the second loop continuing in the water.

The Caymans have terrific swimmers and many of them will be on relay teams. Be prepared to go hard!

Bike
The bike course is a two loop course that is fairly smooth and flat. It is not a closed course but you can expect limited traffic. If you are visiting from the U.S., you will be riding on the “wrong” side of the road. There are three aid stations and some of the volunteers are new to our sport. Slow down for water and try not to scare the islanders! The course will heat up quickly. My recommendation is that you carry enough water/nutrition to do the course self-supported.

Most island races seem to have a head wind in every direction you turn. In 2013, the head wind was most noticeable from mile 18 to mile 28. It’s a great section to go fast when other people are going slow.

Run
This is a three loop course. Expect to collect a wristband to verify that you completed each lap. You will need to have all three wristbands at the finish. The run is the hardest part of the race because of the heat and humidity. Most of the wheels fall off here. Focus on staying cool, hydrating and taking in calories. Aid stations are well stocked every mile.

Post-Race
Expect a great finish on the beach and the cheerful residents greeting you. There is a great post-race buffet and a beach bar nearby!

Your Team
If your friends and family are joining you, the swim is great viewing for spectators. They can even walk to the end of the pier to watch you. As you depart on the bike, I suggest your support crew stay out of the sun or apply some serious sunscreen. They will see you as you start the second loop of the bike and again when you return to transition.

Other Island Activities
The Caymans has terrific dive sites and ample dive crews to assist you. If you don’t dive, head over to Cemetery Reef (on Seven Mile Beach) for snorkeling in the marine park. Want to experience some open water swimming? Governors Beach is a great location (The Flowers One Miler Sea Swim) takes place in this area and it is clear, calm and you will be surprised by the occasional eagle ray and turtle.

There are plenty of dining options on the island. My personal recommendation is 45 minutes from the race site at The Brasserie. They pride themselves on catching their own fish and growing their own vegetables.

No matter where you are in your winter training, the Mercuryman Triathlon is a great kick off to your 2014 season. See you in the islands!


Sue Aquila is a multiple-time Kona-qualifier and was the first overall woman at the 2013 Mercuryman Triathlon.

Sue started her triathlon journey with a 50lb weight loss and continues as a Kona qualifier. As a successful entrepreneur, she believes that, “You can run your business like your training and your training like your business!” As a coach (USAT Certified), she helps athletes to develop success in all areas of their lives: family, health and work. She blogs regularly at fewoman.com. You can find her on Twitter @fewoman.

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