THE OLYMPIC triathlon was the feature event, at the Rainbow Cup Tobago International Triathlon, held at the Courland Bay Heritage Park, Black Rock, last Saturday.
Sixteen Trinidad and Tobago athletes started the gruelling course, which showcased their endurance in a 1.5-kilometre swim, 40k bike-ride and a 10k run.
John Littlepage of Deigo Martin, completed all three disciplines in two hours 30 minutes and 27 seconds, to lift the trophy.
Littlepage, who established a huge advantage after the swim, clocked 20 minutes, 50 seconds.
He completed the cycling course in one hour 17 minutes and 30 seconds, which was the second fastest time, and also recorded the second fastest time in the road run, at 52 minutes and nine seconds.
Female athlete Jenna Ross, upstaged a number of the males in recording the second fastest time overall, of two hours 31 minutes and 32 seconds. Ross actually ran the fastest 10k, in 46 minutes and 46 seconds.
Dwayne Roach who finished five minutes behind Ross in two hours, 36 minutes and 44 seconds, in third position, was the strongest competitor on bike, posting a time of one hour, 14 minutes and 28 seconds.
Speaking after his accomplishment, the 36-year-old Littlepage, who tested his first Olympic triathlon, was generally pleased with his performance, but failed to tick one box.
He said, “I came into the race with certain time checks for each discipline and I delivered on my swim and ride. I did suffer with the heat and dehydration on the run, which led me to fall off the pace, in the last couple of miles.
“Given my swimming experience, I knew I would be able to have a lead coming out of the water, but I knew it would be difficult to maintain that lead on the bike and run, because they are not my strongest fields.”
Commenting on the race conditions, he said, “You could not ask for better swimming conditions, with the water remaining flat. The road did prove challenging with the hills and heat.”
He added, “I am very happy with my progress over the last couple months, so I was prepared to fight to the end.”
Littlepage said his triathlon experience was a stepping stone leading up to his desire to compete in the iron man event in Arizona, United States in November, with the intention of qualifying for the World Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii, US next year.
Littlepage is looking forward to defending his trophy next year. He said, “Barring injuries, I definitely hope to be back next year to defend this coveted title.”
He praised the organising body, led by co-ordinator Jason Gooding. “Jason and his team put on a fantastic event, from closing the roads to traffic, starting on time and the support stations,” Littlepage said. “It is known to be a challenging course, but that is why we do these types of events, to push our bodies to do things that allow you to come out better than when you went in.”
Gooding was satisfied with the outcome of the event. He said, “The event was a great success and the response from the athletes was more overwhelming than I originally anticipated. The enthusiasm of the athletes to be part of the event, and their willingness to get back into competition was very satisfying for me.”
While the triathlon has been one of the genuine sport tourism fixture in Tobago over the years, there was some reduction in the foreign invasion last Saturday. According to Gooding most of the competitors came from Trinidad.
“Eighty-five of the athletes came from Trinidad, he said, and there was an increase of Tobago entrants in the relay triathlon and five-kilometre road race.”
Gooding is already eyeing a bigger and better triathlon in 2023, but stated that sponsorship was a major headache this time around.
“Massy Stores, is no longer our title sponsor and getting additional sponsorship, coming out of the covid19 pandemic was very challenging, compared to previous years.
“I wanted to promote the event more, but was weary of the financial situation, so I did not go one hundred percent into advertising,” Gooding said.
Among the other events on the day, were the individual triathlon and sprint relay, were the competitors did half the distances of the Olympic triathlon and the open 5k road race.