Jakes Off Road Triathlon 2018
Yes, it’s the world’s oldest off-road triathlon, in addition to being the most charming off-road triathlon. And it happens next on Saturday, April 28, 2018! It’s a 300-meter ocean swim, a 25K off–and-on road back-country mountain bike and a 7K trail run. Athletes of all types are welcome. Here, one participant tells it as it is—and what you can expect when you do Jakes Off-Road Tri.
wim, Bike, Run – that’s the Triathlon formula. But Jakes Off-Road Triathlon doesn’t stick to formulas, any more than its home does, the bohemia-in-the-bush known as Treasure Beach.
I’m pretty much a veteran when it comes to races. I’ve done the Escape from Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay, the ToughMan Half-Iron in the Hudson Valley and I’ve finished the NYC Tri (Olympic distance) eight times. That’s the one where you tell people you’re swimming a mile in the Hudson River, and they say that you’ll turn green. (For the record, I’ve never turned green.) But there’s no race, anywhere, that compares to the Jakes Off-Road Tri. And when my fellow triathletes hear about it, they turn green with envy.
The race begins at whatever time the race starter decides enough racers have turned up. A word about those racers: there are lithe, local athletes who look like they’re related to Usain Bolt; there are first-timers who have made the possibly rash decision to try a tri here; and there are deliberate triathlon tourists, mostly from North America, but pretty much from anywhere.
Sometime around the advertised 8:00 A.M. sharp, there’s a critical mass of swimmers gathered at Great Bay. They’ve ridden their bikes over because that’s where it all starts. This sheltered, 3/4 mile-long bay offers the best place for open-water swimming (and training) that I know. The swim is simple, short and salty. Just 300 meters, in a straight line from west to east. That’s the direction where even a light breeze will slap your face with rhythmic wavelets on every second stroke.
Next, the bike leg.
A word about the bikes. If you’re crazy enough to ship or bring a mountain bike when you fly in to Jamaica, so be it. If not, you’ll need to borrow one, or better – see Zebedee at Jakes. He’s the rental guy.
So, you’re out of the water and into T1. That would also be the beach, where your bike is lying in the sand – unless you came early and snagged a palm tree to lean the bike up against. The bike leg is the next revelation. Once you ride the 3 miles from Great Bay into Treasure Beach and pass Jakes, pass Smurf’s, and head uphill, you’re riding through some of the most peaceful, pastoral, red-dirt farmland you’ll ever see. There are goats all over, and hefty red-brown cattle mostly behind fences. The bike paths are farm trails, some stony, some grassy, and most VERY rocky indeed. After a long flat whooshing ride through the farmland and grassland, and then a steep climb up a very narrow track through scrubby woodland (not lush forest) you’re out onto the plateau above Treasure Beach, on a pleasant cruise on unmarked but mostly flat roads (with many fine local potholes of course), through Newell and Pedro Cross and Beacon, until you hit the steep descent down a double hairpin bend, past the fishing boat, and back into Treasure Beach – and T2.
If you’re my speed (Masters division) you’re an hour-plus into the race, the sun is up, the day is hot, and you’re dry and dusty… Hydrate!!! And now the 7K “country run” seems just a little more daunting than it did earlier. After the first mile, running back the way you came on the bike and heading towards Great Bay again past the supermarket and up one very steep slog of a hill, the run becomes easier, and more scenic.
The stony trail runs alongside the often dry lake where alligators are said to lurk, threading through the trails between more small farms with their goats and brown dogs running around freely, under occasional overhangs of thorn bushes that give a little shady relief, and then turning back towards Treasure Beach along a sandy, flat trail—the kind that every runner loves. The last half-mile or so, on Treasure Beach’s main drag, is like the last half mile of every race – you just want it to be over. And then, of course, it is: you enter the famed arena of Jack Sprat’s beach restaurant and there’s a full-service electronic timing mat to ensure that the race and age-group winners have their times recorded. But the thrill isn’t about winning the race, it’s the fun of competing in the most unusual, and charming, tri I know.
— The Jakes Off-Road Triathlon will be held on Saturday April 28, 2018
— The race includes a 300-meter protected ocean swim, a 25K off–and-on road back-country mountain bike and a 7K trail run
— Our uniquely artsy Jakes awards (what else would you expect?) are provided in overall, masters and team categories
— Triathlete Magazine named us a Top Five Global Off-Road Triathlon (2010)
— All net proceeds from the triathlon benefit BREDS, The Treasure Beach Foundation
— Cost: Individual: $100 US | Relay $150 US | T-Shirts + Pre-race dinner are included
Click here for more details.
Register for the Jakes off-road triathlon here!
“My Treasure Beach secret… Get some jerk at noontime on Saturday (only!) at Maureens little grocery, just round the bend from Jakes.”
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