St. Croix Hosts 30th Major Triathlon: Beauty and the Beast

Runners train for the St. Croix Triathlon, which returns to the island on Sunday.
Runners train for the St. Croix Triathlon, which returns to the island on Sunday. (Photo provided by VI TRI)

St. Croix welcomed athletes from around the world for the Beauty and the Beast Triathlon that took place on Sunday, Dec. 2. Nicknamed the “Race to Rebuild,” the event focused on community support and the island’s recovery after Hurricane Maria passed over it in September 2017. This year’s race was headed by VI TRI, a nonprofit organization, which aimed to raise funds for three local nonprofits, all of whom lost their homes after the storm.

The race weekend kicked off with a Friday night Tri Fête in downtown Christiansted where athletes enjoyed shopping and dining at local retail shops and restaurants, many of whom offered discounts to those competing in the race weekend. The event also included live music at multiple restaurants, Jazz in the Park at Fort Christianvaern, a puppy parade led by the Animal Welfare Center and an 80s band at the Caravelle Hotel & Casino’s main stage.

On Saturday, athletes had the opportunity to hear testimonies and race recommendations from three race legends: eight-time IRONMAN® Champion Wendy Ingraham, two-time duathlon world champion Catriona Morrison and IRONMAN® Champion & Triathlon Hall of Famer Karen Smyers. Each of the three athletes have competed on St. Croix in the past and have returned to support the legendary race as members of three relay teams.

The beautiful Caribbean weather was in full display on Sunday morning as athletes arrived at the transition area located on the lawn of Fort Christianvaern, a National Park Historic Site. Volunteers and spectators watched as the athletes took off into turquoise blue waters, passing by the historic Roseway Schooner. The bike portion of the race proved again to be the most challenging as cyclists made their way along the scenic north shore, leading towards the world famous “beast” and its 15 percent average grade climb. Once racers conquered “the beast” and returned to Christiansted, the scenic course continued through The Buccaneer Resort and historic Christiansted. It was the last challenge left between the racers and the finish line, where spectators, volunteers and moko jumbie stilt dancers cheered them on.

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This year’s half-distance course winner was St. Croix resident Stephen Swanton (5:17:46); Travis Montgomery (5:50:36) was in second place; Wayne Nichols (6:00:19) came in third. The first-place woman in the half-distance course was Julie Sommer (6:02:18); Esther Ellis (6:06:11) was in second place; Megan Lambert (6:30:57) came in third.

Team Annaly Insurance, composed of Brent Mays, Scott Marusa and Billy Bohlke, took first in the half-distance relay. The Sprint Course was won by Dominic Pugliese (1:10:25), who recently represented the U.S. Virgin Islands in the 2018 Junior Olympic Games, followed by Dedrick Luikens (1:10:35) and then by Mason Lambert (1:14:07), the youngest competitor in the race.

Team VING4, made up of Donna Prock, Garfield Ferdinand and Carl Christopher, placed first in the sprint relay. This year’s race debuted a sprint aquathlon with Savannah Logan (0:52:24) placing first, followed by Colleen Cooke (0:53:54) then Kyle Suddarth (0:56:58).
At the awards banquet, Theresa Harper, race director, announced that the race raised $30,000 to distribute to My Brother’s Table, the St. Croix Animal Welfare Center and the Caribbean Centers for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virgin Islands. Winners were awarded at the banquet with handcrafted jewelry from local jewelry stores Crucian Gold and iB Designs.

This year’s race could not have been possible without the support of the Virgin Islands Department of Tourism and many other supporters and sponsors. VI TRI looks forward to continuing the triathlon legacy in America’s Paradise with the 2019 Beauty and The Beast race set for Dec. 8, 2019.
For more details on the race, visit www.virginislandstriathlon.com.

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