Athletes, fitness lovers, and those who like a good challenge can definitely reserve November 3rd, 2001 on their calendars for the 15th annual Conchman Triathlon set to take place at Taino Beach.
This three-event race, which is open to competitors of all ages, consists of a 1000 metre (half a mile) swim, 25 km (15 miles) bike ride and a 5 km (3 miles) run. Race director, Coach Bert Bell, who was instrumental in organising this race with Craig Stewart and Ambrose Gouthro from its inception, says this event is a test of overall fitness and endurance.
“It’s not a race necessarily to win but to give the participant a goal for fitness development. It has three disciplines and it’s attractive as a fitness alternative and recreation activity. If you’re concerned about your general fitness level and trying to stay young, then this community event is for you,” says Coach Bell.
The triathlon is a fairly new sport having originated from the Iron Man races in Hawaii 16 years ago before becoming a more organised, respected event in Bermuda. It was then that Coach Bell, Mr. Gouthro and Mr. Stewart saw the potential for having a Bahamian triathlon and 15 years ago held the first race at Xanadu Beach.
The race consists of two categories. First, the open event which starts at 8am and also includes relay races for those whom prefer to complete only one leg of the Conchman with the other two being completed by their team mates. And the Iron Kids race which starts at 12pm, and where kids from as young as three years of age and up participate in a 200 metre swim, two and a half mile bike ride, and a half mile run. The organizers have a water walk leg that replaces the swim for those children who cannot swim yet, in order that all may enjoy this fun sport. Over the years, Coach Bell has noticed a number of offshore participants. In the upcoming Conchman, 17 persons from the United States and Canada have entered so far and the website, conchman.com, designed by Dave Mackey of 100 Jamz, has seen a number of hits from interested persons. Even more close to home, a few participants from Nassau and Abaco have competed in this event. However, Coach Bell and Conchman committee members “would like to see an all time record high of participants enter.”
This year, spectators can keep an eye out for Stefan Larsen, David Bell, Ada Lester, Alana Dillete and Jacinda Mireault. Participants can also get in tip-top shape by attending practices for no charge every Saturday and Sunday at 4p.m. at Taino beach, hosted by Coach Bell, who recommends swimming, running and riding twice a week each.
The Conchman committee members are busy working on making this sporting event one of the most enticing in Grand Bahama and are very excited about the involvement of Grand Bahama Vacations. Mr. Peter Shaw, Vice President of Marketing for GB Vacations is convinced that this event has the potential for great development and “We are happy to help in any way. We can transport both the athlete and their equipment from a number of our gateways to Grand Bahama, bringing additional tourist revenue to the island”. Currently, Grand Bahama Vacations is supporting the event by donating 46 room nights and 4 air tickets to Laker destinations as prizes to the winners of the Conchman 2001. First place overall male and female winners will receive a round trip from any of GB Vacations locations and 4 nights in their Grand Bahama Hotels. Second place overall winners will receive 4 night stay and round trip airfare from Ft. Lauderdale to Grand Bahama and third place will receive a 4 night stay at a GB Vacations Hotel. The committee is very happy that such an established vacation specialist is committed to supporting and helping develop the event. The committee has also enlisted pro-football player, Daryl Haley to do some clinics to promote the Iron Kids race, which is sponsored by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Company and Attorney Fred Smith. Coach Bell also assures participants that BASRA and the Royal Bahamas Police Force will manage water and road safety, respectively.
Locals and international competitors see the Conchman Triathlon as the ultimate challenge event in Grand Bahama. Not to mention it is a great way for the community to come together, have great food and entertainment provided by Tony Macaroni, while supporting the participants. Sure there may be one or two races in Grand Bahama but there is only one Conchman; a test of courage, endurance and skill.
Persons wishing to participate in the Conchman can register online at their website or pick up an entry form for Iron Kids participants at their local school’s PE Department. All registration forms can be turned in at the Pre-race meetings scheduled for November 1-2nd at Our Lucaya where race packages will be given out. For more information on practices and the Conchman persons can call Coach Bell at 373-6226, 457-5886 or drop by the Freeport Aquatics Club at Freeport Anglican High School between 4-7:30pm.