CHARLESTOWN, NEVIS, November 14, 2015 – Judging from the reactions by the competitors in this year’s Nevis Triathlon, the tiny island may just be the most beautiful triathlon venue in the world.
With swimmers, runners and cyclists from seemingly every corner of the planet, the Nevis event may have earned itself an international reputation for everyone who dares take up the challenge of triathlon.
More than a dozen countries were represented including the United States, the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, China and South Africa as well as relatively local athletes from Trinidad/Tobago and Belize.
At just 6 years of age, the youngest competitor traveled from Romania with his family.The oldest, Dr. Gordon Avery at age 81, has taken part in all 14 of the Nevis Triathlons was clearly the crowd favorite given that he is a beloved islander himself.
Festivities began precisely at 7 am with three scheduled events. The shortest, known as the “Try-a-Tri,” is geared for first timers, smaller children and people who might not be sure they want to test their skills in three events on a hot Saturday morning in November.
The Try-a-Tri includes a 100 meter swim, a 10K bike ride and a 2.5K run.
For triathlon veterans the Nevis37 involves a 500 meter swim, followed by one lap around the circumference of the island by bicycle, a distance of 20 miles, and a 5K run.
The ultimate challenge is Nevis73 which doubles the distances of the sprint.
Ordinarily Nevis is a quiet place that is shaped like a giant gumdrop thanks to its humpbacked mountain in the center. On triathlon day however, the main harbor in Charlestown swells with loud music and raucous competitors and spectators.
Nevis has plenty of history. Admiral Lord Nelson was married to Fanny Nisbet, the daughter of a sugar plantation owner, in the late 18th century. Today, Nisbet Plantation is one a favorite resort on Nevis with its famous Avenue of the Palms.
Americans will recognize the name of Alexander Hamilton who was born on Nevis and whose portrait graces the ten dollar bill.
But in mid-November, the eyes, and arms and legs, of the world turn toward Nevis where the triathlon is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the finest in the world.
If there is one place on the course that makes competitors groan is the notorious Anaconda Hill which is a steep uphill climb on your bike. Just when cyclists reach the water station, thinking they have reached the summit, they realize they are on 75% finished which brings groans of despair.
Nevis73 riders are particularly upset because they know all too well that they must take up the challenge again in order to finish.
The run goes from the start/finish line in Charlestown out to the Four Seasons Hotel, the only chain hotel on Nevis. Runners must go out and back at least once, but Nevis73 competitors have the joy of doing it twice.
During the course of their bike ride, cyclists sometimes encounter donkeys or sheep or even an occasional green monkey. There are more green monkeys on Nevis than people. Fortunately they are shy and don’t bother humans, but they are still a nuisance.
Trophies are awarded for the top three places in each category for men and for women. The sculptures carved out of local stone by a craftsman from Nevis feature three sides representing each of the skills involved.
As the event wears on, temperatures rise and the competition becomes even more intense due to the heat. When asked how hot it was out there, one woman simply replied, “I think it was a million degrees.”
To her credit she finished, as did everyone else, and the temps did not quite reach a million.
The overall winner was Jason Costello of Trinidad who, oddly enough, was the only male participant in the Nevis73 race.
Mostly, it was a friendly, congenial atmosphere nestled within the island beauty of Nevis, just across the channel from St. Kitts.
If there were any complaints, they came from participants who said they only wished they had had an opportunity to test out the course first.
On the other hand, the hills and terrain of Nevis provided the ultimate challenge, and with that came magnificent views and an accomplishment that even the most diehard triathlete will remember.
Just as the slogan says, “Nevis….Naturally.”
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club
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