St. Croix Ironman
As the St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon approaches its quarter century mark, it proudly retains a place among the world's elite endurance events. St. Croix has welcomed most of the legends of the professional triathlete ranks and remains a race that, along with the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, an essential line in any successful resume.
The race, which is held annually on the first Sunday in May, starts with one of the most iconic swims in the sport. Leaving from the beach in front of Hotel on the Cay, the swimmers can see thousands of spectators awaiting their arrival at the swim exit ramp located near the Fort in Christiansted. First though, the athletes must conquer the sometimes choppy water of the harbor, on their way through the 1.2 mile segment.
It is with the bike leg, however, where the race really starts. The racers gather their steeds and head off on what is an always hot, always hilly and frequently windy 56 mile circumnavigation of St. Croix. The route includes massive climbs, treacherous technical turns and unrivaled scenic beauty that test an athlete's concentration and desire.
At the 20 mile mark is the race's very own signature, whose simple mention can strike fear in the heart of anyone who has dared to tame...The Beast. Although the assent is only .7 of a mile long, the savage average grade of 14% starts with the first pedal stroke and continues through sections that climb with a thigh killing 21%. To put it in perspective, imagine riding a bicycle up the stairs of the Washington Monument.
Upon arriving back in Christiansted, the bikers morph into runners and head out on a 13.1 mile run. By this point in the day, the sun has made its presence known, and what could be a pleasant run through the grounds of the Buccaneer Hotel becomes a struggle simply to make it to the next Aid Station, where dozens of local volunteers wait dutifully to pass out water, energy drinks and ice, without which the race would come to a grinding halt.
The race finish line is located back at the Fort, where cheering spectators and Moko Jumbies welcome home both the fast and the slow. Hundreds of volunteers now spring into action, whether manning the Medical or Massage tents, handing out finisher medals or drinks, and generally taking good care of the now exhausted racers.
For the fast, St. Croix is one of the very few races in the world that offers qualifying slots for the two major World Championships of Ironman, the big Kahuna in Hawaii and the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas. It is a testament to the people of St. Croix that Ironman has bequeathed such an honor to the race. While the course is brutal, it is the island itself that makes the biggest impression.
One race finisher summed up the experience for many when he wrote, "If you aspire to experience our sport at its' most beautiful and most challenging, no other race affords that opportunity like St. Croix. You simply have to do St. Croix to see why it's not just about The Beast. "
Come out to the race on May 1 and see for yourself what keeps these athletes coming back to St. Croix, and why we are glad to call it our home.