Triathlon dominated by First Timers

The Daily Herald writes that Bas de Haan, a 26 year old resident of St. Eustatius, took first place in the Saba Triathlon with a total time of only 1:37:29 Saturday. De Haan, born and raised in the Netherlands in the small town of Meedhuizen, said this was his first triathlon ever. “I was a semi-professional cycler back home for twelve years but I never thought I would win this event” De Haan explained shortly after the race.

The scheduled start at Wells Bay was moved to Fort Bay for safety reasons. Around 8:00am nearly 100 athletes began the three leg event. Swimmers started their 800 metre race where after the cyclers went on a ride from Fort Bay to the top of the Bottom Mountain Road. From there the runners took over and ran a trajectory from the Ecolodge to Queen’s Gardens, then up Troy Hill and back across the Sandy Cruz trail. The finish was in Hell’s Gate.

The first female contestant to pass the finish line was Irena Kuca from Canada and born in the Czech Republic with a total time of 2:00:28. It was also her first triathlon and she is an avid hiker in her spare time. “It’s been a wonderful, well organised event with great spirit” Kuca said after taking a minute to catch her breath.
The fastest women’s team was formed by Marie-Luise Ameen, Rachel Thijssen and La-toya Charles. They finished with a total time of 2:33:49.
Hylke van der Velde, Sheldon Every en Bradley Johnson represented the fastest men’s team was with an overall time of 2:07:26. The fastest junior team consisting of Jochem de Roos, Michell Hassell en Shurandy Winfield made it a total time of 2:09:37.

The organisers and contestants were very happy with the weather conditions as it was dry in the days before the event and it stayed dry throughout the day. One day before the event, all the contestants gathered at Queen’s Gardens Resort in the Bottom for their initial safety briefing. Island Governor Jonathon Johnson opened with a speech wishing all the contestants good luck whereafter a carbohydrate- rich dinner was served.

Most of the 100 athletes originated from Saba. Around 20 challengers arrived from St. Maarten, five from St. Eustatius and seven from the Netherlands. Also an American and a Canadian team where present together with several youth teams from Saba. Gregory Pigeon from St. Maarten, who is last year’s winner was also present.

Koen van Laar, who is the head organiser of the Saba Triathlon, was very pleased with the turnout. “This is the biggest triathlon ever on Saba, last year there were only 41 contestants” van Laar explained in an interview with The Daily Herald. He was very pleased that this year, Spence, the schoolchildren of the Saba Comprehensive School were taking part. “This was a real island event and next year we’ll try to make it even bigger” the head organiser emphasised. “We could not have done this without our sponsors, Satel, Saba Roads and the local Government. Besides these sponsors we’ve had help from several partners such as the Saba Conservation Foundation, the Ecolodge and Queen’s Gardens Resort” van Laar concluded.

At 2:00pm the official award ceremony was held at the Ecolodge. First place winners De Haan and Kuca both took home a gift voucher of US $ 100 to spend at Trisport in St. Maarten. They also each received a Winair ticket to a destination of their choosing. The first placed team received a dinner and spa voucher from Queen’s Garden Resort and the youth team winners will receive free sunglasses from Eye Care Optical Saba. Afterwards the organisers were proud to say that all the contestants made it across the finish line. In association with Saba Fit one of the goals of this event is to stimulate the people of Saba to exercise regularly. In the evening a party was organised at the Deep End restaurant in Fort Bay where everyone could unwind and share their experiences of the day.

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