It’s time to dust off those running shoes, clean off the swim goggles and get those bicycle gears checked.
The St. John Land Sharks is hosting the 12th annual Love City Triathlon on Sunday, September 5, at 7 a.m. Participants can compete solo or in teams of three or two — with one person both running and swimming.
For participants who just want to run and swim, race officials are offering an Aquathon this year as well. No teams will be allowed to compete in the Aquathon.
For those in the triathlon, the morning will kick off with a half-mile swim consisting of two triangle loops in Maho Bay. After athletes get out of the ocean, they’ll pick up their bikes and pedal to Cruz Bay on North Shore Road.
Bicyclers will then race up Centerline Road and turn back onto North Shore Road at the Colombo Yogurt stand. The 14-mile bike race wraps up at Annaberg Sugar Plantation where triathlete racers will ditch their bikes and start the event’s running portion by hightailing it up the stairs.
Incorporating the Annaberg stairs has become a part of the Love City Triathlon tradition, thanks to the participants, not the organizers.
“The first year we did it people gasped at the stairs,” said St. John Land Sharks president Jude Woodcock. “Everyone hated it. So the race committee decided to take the stairs out, and we told people.”
“Then the participants said they loved the stairs,” said Woodcock. “So we’re keeping the stairs and I think people really like having that be part of the race.”
After tackling the Annaberg stairs, the triathlon runners will traverse a course between Francis Bay beach and Annaberg — with a jaunt down the Leinster Bay trail as well — for a full four mile course.
Athletes taking part in the Aquathon will have a different starting time than the triathlon racers, but their race will begin at Maho Bay also.
After completing the same half-mile triangle swimming course at Maho, Aquathon participants will run a 3.4 mile course, which will include the Annaberg stairs but not the Leinster Bay trail.
While there are no teams allowed to compete in the Aquathon, organizers have made the running portion of the race just a little more than 5 kilometers.
“We wanted to make the race a little more user-friendly, so the run is just a bit more than a 5K,” said Woodcock. “But there are no teams allowed for the Aquathon, you must do both the run and the swim.”
Organizers are capping the race at 100 participants, so athletes are encouraged to register early. On St. John stop by the Tap Room to register — $35 for solo entries and $30 each for team members. On St. Thomas registration is available at all three Caribbean Surf Company locations.
Registration is open until September 4 or until 100 participants sign up and there will be no registration the day of the race.
There is a mandatory pre-race meeting for all participants on Saturday evening, September 4, at the Maho Bay Campground pavilion from 4 to 5:30 p.m. T-shirts and race numbers will be distributed at the meeting.
The St. John Land Sharks is also hosting a post-race beach picnic and awards ceremony at Francis Bay following the race.
While the race is the perfect way to take advantage of all St. John has to offer, the views aren’t bad either, Woodcock explained.
“I think spectators come out because you can see a lot of hot bodies and girls and boys running nearly naked,” she said. “With the swimming, biking and running, it’s just a great way to take advantage of our island.”
As one of a few events of its kind in the Virgin Islands, the Love City Triathlon draws participants from the BVIs, Nevis, St. Martin and other nearby islands.
With such competition, the Land Sharks created the Inter-Island award, given to the top finishing team of solo triathletes.
“We’ve been giving out the award from the beginning,” said Woodcock. “You have to do the race solo and you have to have a team of three people doing the race along with you, and at least one of them has to be a woman. We add up the times and the winning island takes home the award.”
St. Croix is the defending champion of the Inter-Island award, but Woodcock though St. Thomas might have a chance to steal it away this year, but they’ll have to be pretty impressive.
In addition to having the inter-island title, St. Croix’s Theresa Harper owns the female solo triathlon. Harper has competed in all 11 of the races so far and is lined up to defend her title again this year.
Maho Bay Campground is also offering a special deal for Love City Triathlon participants. Anyone taking part in the race is eligible for a free night’s stay the night before the event, but reservations must be made by September 2.
To make a reservation at Maho Bay call 715-0500. For more information on the Love City Triathlon call 779-1416.