Sunday morning, 46 Crucian athletes overcame the threat of rain Sunday and raced the north shore of Cane Bay in St. Croix to kick off the fall race season in the annual Wall2Wall Triathlon.
When it was all over, Kellen Hood dominated the men in the sprint category, and Theresa Harper took first among the women. Twelve-year-old Adrian Sanes won the shorter Try-a-Tri.
Just before 7 a.m, the group dove into the choppy waters for the swim portion of the race in front of Net Café, competing in either the sprint, relay or Try-a-Tri. The sprint and relay were the same distance: a half-mile swim, 14.5-mile bike race, and 3-mile run. The Try-a-Tri began with a 300-yard swim, followed by a 4 ½- mile bike ride, and finished with a 1.5-mile run.
Hood finished the swim in 11:02, the long bike ride in 42:36, and the run in 22:01, for a total time of 1:15:39. Theresa Harper took the female sprint category as she was second out of the water in 15:02, and caught up with front-runner Laura Hood during the bike ride completing the bike portion in 50:57. Harper led the final portion of the sprint, with a run time of 22:24, and a total time of 1:28:23.
Kellen Hood, who just did a 70.3 half-Ironman in Las Vegas last week, was happy he came in first, but said it was hard on his muscles.
“I felt like my body was in recovery mode the whole time,” Hood said. “The 70.3 is easier in a way, because in the sprint you have to go at full force.”
Harper, who almost always dominates the triathlons in the territory, said she was worried at first because she knew Laura Hood was training for an Ironman, making the competition fierce. Hood was the first out of the water and ahead for most of the bike race, until Harper finally caught up and overtook the lead.
“Laura had a really great race. I knew she was in good shape, so I was nervous,” Harper said.
“I didn’t really feel like I was ready, but because I’m preparing for a marathon, I could tell while I was running that the training really carried over,” Harper said.
While 19 men and 13 women competed in the individual sprint race, the relay race was made up of three-member teams. The relay category had a total of three teams competing for a total of nine racers. Each racer competed just one leg of the relay: the swim, bike or run portion.
Bryson Mays took the lead in the swim portion of the relay with a time of 9:01, helping his team to an overall second-place finish. Jamie Keys pedaled the bike course in a swift 47:34, which proved pivotal to his team’s overall first-place win, leaving the last portion for his teammate to finish. Thirteen-year-old Malique Smith took his teammate’s lead and sprinted to the end, to win the relay category in 1:15:59.
Smith’s mom Mireille stood by proudly cheering on her young son. “I just feel great, and we are so happy our son loves running, it’s a proud feeling,” she said.
The Try-a-Tri had only five racers compete, with three of them being children. 12-year-old Adrian Sanes, who has won several races throughout the year, led the entire race coming in from his swim with a quick time of 7:06, the bike at19:35 and a fast-paced run with 13:02 for a total time of 39:43.
“I still feel strong – and I’m not even that tired,” Sanes said. “Running and swimming are my best events, but I still feel great.”
Wallace Williams, the founding president for the V.I. Pace Runners, stood with race organizer Tom Guthrie at the finish line cheering people on as he clocked their times.
“The morning is great – we usually worry about races this time of year during hurricane season, but the turnout was good,” Williams said. “The Virgin Islands just has some great core athletes.”