The Daily Herald writes that the island is calling all triathletes, fitness buffs and world trotters for the gruelling conquest over the Hell’s Gate Triathlon challenge in this corner of Caribbean paradise. Saba University School of Medicine (SUSOM) students Nicole Falls, Michael Dobson, Michelle Silva and Charlene Pan, faculty Dr. Ramona Dumitrescu and Koen van Laar from the office of the National Government Representative are working hard to bring back the Saba Hell’s Gate Triathlon in 2014. The revival of this Saba Day community tradition came up in informal discussions with Commissioner Chris Johnson who asked for the assistance of interested volunteers in taking up the logistical burden of organizing such an event.
The ambitious task group revived the dormant organization and scheduled the competition for Saturday, January 11th. The gruelling triathlon starts with an 800m swim at Well’s Bay, continued with an 8km bike and a 5km run effort to the base of the Sandy Cruz trail, ending at an elevation of 1500ft. In the past the steep slopes of the track earned it the motto “to hell and back,” but the current organizers are going for a friendlier motto this time, “where even the swim is uphill.”
The first annual triathlon competition was held on Saba in 2003 with the last one held in 2009 when the Saba Triathlon Foundation became dormant. Despite the difficult terrain the competition had experienced no medical incidents. A number of communitybased organizations are supporting this renewed interest in recovering a tradition of outdoors health-oriented community activities. The Island Government, committed sponsors such as Body, Mind and Spirit Foundation and utility company Satel N.V. provide for a minimal budget for this endeavour.
Tri-Sport from St. Maarten is assisting the organizing committee with timekeeping, bike renting, advertising the event on St. Maarten and other logistics aspects. The triathlon committee is looking into special discounted travel tickets and basic accommodation options for guest competitors. Everyone is keeping their fingers crossed for nature to cooperate by providing at least some sand at Well’s Bay. An alternative route at Fort Bay Harbour may be needed depending on the weather. Saba Conservation Foundation will be providing boats and kayaks for swim safety. The Saba Red Cross team will as usual spread along the track where banners will be posted.
Some 15 participants have signed-up already. The individual registration fee is US $45 and for a team it is US $60. All fees are waived for youth teams ages 16 and younger. Participation packages include the race fee, a travel package on the island, pick-up dinner, post-race luncheon and a race t-shirt. Interested parties are encouraged to signup online by emailing sabatriathlon@ gmail.com and check for updates on their Facebook account https:// www.facebook.com/Saba-Triathlon.