So there we were, up at 2:30 am preparing to head to Blanchisseuse – the End of Day 1 location of the second annual Tropical Power Coast 2 Coast Multi-Sport Race The crew with the banners had trouble finding the Marianne River Swing Bridge, hence the reason Mark and I could be found traipsing up to the northeast coast at a time when we would usually be in La La Land.
The drive up was blissfully calming. Very few cars. Soft rain that made the roadway glisten. First light causing the ocean to glitter with a pensive slate blue hue. And then the weather went from petulant to just plain vex, causing the banner installation process to be delayed by two heavy downpours – but by 8:00 am we were organized, albeit a bit wet.
Wet was apparently a good thing for the racers, though – a record field of about 40 competitors left the start line at the Toco Lighthouse at 6:00 am with a demanding course of cycling and running ahead of them. The overcast conditions seemed to help them out a bit, creating a cool but humid climate.
The route began with a short 1.4 km run along Trinidadâ€™s picturesque northeast coast, followed by a 30 km cycle to Matelot. Athletes then transitioned to Stage 2: a challenging 32 km run through beautiful rain forest trails to Blanchisseuse, made trickier because of the rainy conditions.
First across the End of Day One marker in a time of 4:34:40 was Trinidad and Tobago marathoner Cantius Thomas, part of a relay team that includes cyclist Guy Costa and South African paddler Andrew Blackburn.
The first individual entry across the line was the current Multi-Sport World Champion New Zealander Richard Ussher, in a time of 4:35:15. Ussher completed the cycle stage in a faster time than Costa, but said that while the run through the forest was beautiful, it was also tough – due, in part, to a combination of the heat, humidity and muddy conditions. â€œYou know how there are some days when you find your limits?â€ he laughs. â€œToday was one of those days.â€
Really? Based on his performance, you’d never know. Ussher maintains the lead at the end of Day One. Last yearâ€™s Coast 2 Coast winner, triathlete Jason Gooding finished in a time of 5:15:10, while Elina Maki-Rautila from Finland was the first female to cross the finish at the end of the first day, mere seconds after Gooding.
Stage 3 of the Tropical Power Coast 2 Coast continues from 5:00 am tomorrow with a 58 km ride to Diego Martinâ€™s North Post, followed by an 8 km run to Macqueripe. The final stage of the course is the 30 km paddle to Williams Bay, Chaguaramas through the swells of Trinidadâ€™s First Boca, which sits between the Gulf of Paria and the Caribbean Sea. The Meteorological Office maintains that tomorrow’s weather forecast will be a repeat of today â€“ cloudy conditions, with showers and high humidity â€“ so itâ€™s sure to be an exciting race to the finish.
Photo courtesy James O’Connor/Caribbean Stock Photography: www.caribbeanstockphotography.com