Neither Storms Nor Stings Stop the Iron Man

Franchy Favre approaches the finish line in first place Sunday at the St. Croix Ironman.Mother Nature appeared to be doing her best to foil Captain Morgan Ironman 70.3 Triathlon Sunday, but organizers and participants were not going to let that happen.

Long-time race coordinator Tom Guthrie said that by late Saturday afternoon the buoys on the swim course had been blown off their settings, fences in the finishing and transition areas had been blown down and the roads on which the bicyclists were to ride were covered with debris from flooding.

Ken Haines, at his home in Hermon Hill, measured three inches of rainfall in Saturday afternoon’s deluge.

Volunteers, according to Guthrie, were able to get the fences back up and buoys in place before the race and the competition was able to start on time.

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“I don’t know of another organization that could have done that,” Guthrie said.

He also gave credit to the Department of Public Works for getting their people out to clean the roadways of debris before the race.

But Mother Nature was not through. When Iron Man participants jumped into the Christiansted harbor for the swim part of the competition, some were greeted by jelly fish. Four people had to be treated for stings, two had to be taken to the hospital.

Bikes are laid out, ready to go as soon as Ironman contestants spring out of the water and hit the road.Enoch Law, a New York policeman who participated in the sprint part of the race, said he was stung by something, but it did not stop from him continuing in the race. It was his first time in competition and he said, “I’m OK. I finished. It was awesome. I will do it again.”

His father-in-law, Ian Mead, was one of the volunteers in the harbor on a kayak to ensure the safety of the swimmers. “This has got to be one of the safest races, we have so many volunteers,” he said.

The winners finished the race with times almost a half hour longer than previous races. Because the race is no longer a qualifier for the Hawaii Iron Man, it does not attract the professionals that it once did.

Finishing first was Franchy Favre of Martinique with a time of four hours, 43 minutes and 14 seconds. Second place belonged to Stephen Wright of the United States with a time of 4:51:31 seconds. Third place was earned by Sebastian Sanchez of St.Lucia in 4:57:50, with Juan Carlos Escotet Serrano on his heels in 4:58:10.

The race began at 6:30 a.m., as the competitors dove into the water and swam 1.24 miles. Then on the Fort Christiansvaern lawn they jumped onto bicycles for the 56-mile ride that included scaling "the Beast." The race concludes with a two-loop run covering 13.1 miles east of Christiansted and through town to the finish line at the National Park.

Stephen Wright catches his breath after finishing the grueling race in second place Sunday.The distance for the 49 entrants taking part in the Sprinters was a 750-meter swim, an eight-mile bike ride and a four-mile run. The winner was Dedrick Luikens and coming in second was Bridget Klein.

The day included intermittent rain but nothing like Saturday’s downpour. Divers reported the water below the surface murky after the storm. However, the surface was almost flat in its calmness on Sunday morning.

As he watched the first finishers come in, Guthrie described the race as “perfect.”

The crowd welcoming the runners across the finish line was not huge, but it was enthusiastic, giving high fives to any competitor who was not too exhausted to return them.

In the end Mother Nature gave in a bit. The heavy rains and winds of Sunday did not come until the race, for the most part, was over.

Final results can be found for the Sprint at this link. Results for the big race can be found here.

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