Andrew Spencer triumphs in Ministry/NSC Triathlon race
Andrew Spencer braved the Essequibo River and endured the arduous terrain of the West Demerara thoroughfare to win the 4th Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport, in collaboration with the National Sports Commission, annual Independence Anniversary Triathlon, along the East Bank Essequibo, Sunday morning last.
The Lindener clocked an overall time of 3.35:39 to cart off the top honours in front of Fabian Binns, also competing in the senior category, who clocked 3.55:44. Garfield Lorrimer registered a timing of 3.56:38 and occupied the final podium position. Two other senior competitors, Floyd Adams and Deon Spencer clocked 4.06:51 and 4.24:42 to finish the event in fourth and fifth places, respectively.
Damion Williams was the first junior male to finish the race with a time of 3.44:21. His closest rival, Mark Jardim, finished in 4.53:50.
Donica Spencer completed the journey in a time of 5.19:29 to capture the women’s senior title while Carletta Cornelius was the first junior female to cross the finish line. Her timing was 5.25:56.
The triathlon started with the swimming event, a 5km journey from Guy-America Sawmill to Blake Beach. Competitors then exited the water and straddled their cycles for a 25km ride through Parika to Anna Catherina/Leonora junction. Thereafter, they dismounted and commenced the final leg, a 10km run from Anna Caterina/Leonora junction to Den Amstel to complete the event at the Uitvlugt Community Centre. Fourteen competitors graced the starting line. Three of them give up at the first stage while one decided to quit during the second.
The race got underway at just around 11:00hrs after the competitors were ferried from the Guy-America Sawmill to the starting point. Four speedboats provided by Captain Cleo DeSilva, of Roeden-Rust escorted the swimmers to the starting point while ensuring that there was no mishap.
The competitors braved the choppy waters of the Essequibo River and it was Fabian Binns and Andrew Spencer, who dominated this leg. Binns first exited and enjoyed a ten-minute lead before Spencer exited, straddled his cycle and took off in hot pursuit.
He overtook Binns around the Bushy Park area and refused to relinquish the lead. Moments after bracing the tape, Spencer admitted that the three-stage event had been grueling. He said that he had prepared thoroughly and was able to stick to the task. He also said that the cycling leg proved to be the most demanding.
While the two raced along the Parika main road, Donica Spencer valiantly battled the waters and exited ahead of her junior counterpart, Cornelius. The latter athlete was also undergoing severe constraints a she battled the murky Essequibo waters.
Meanwhile, two of the males threw in the towel mid river. It was evident that Spencer was undergoing severe constraints, yet she refused to give up. Unmindful that most of the other contestants had exited the water, the Lindener resolutely stuck to the task and she was the second to last contestant to complete the arduous swimming leg.
As she did, a group of enthusiastic supporters was there to egg her on. Apparently buoyed by the gesture, Spencer straddled her cycle and raced through the West Demerara villages. She then disembarked at Anna Catherina for the final leg of the event, a 10km run. The fact that she was able to defy the vicissitudes must have been commendable enough. Winning the junior female category must have given her insurmountable joy.
Minister of Youth and Sport, Frank Anthony lauded the efforts of the organisers even as he congratulated the participants. He urged them to stay focused in anticipation of next year’s event, tentatively set for the same venue. The Minister admitted that the event was tough but pointed out that the organisers were merely trying to adhere to the format of international triathlons.
He also disclosed that plans are in train to broaden the event to encompass international participation next year. “Now that you have competed in this event you obviously have a better understanding of the requirements for events of this nature,” the Minister noted. “We are aiming to have a triathlon that measures up to those held internationally,” he concluded.
The event was held in Berbice last year and Kelvin Johnson was adjudged the winner.
The first three finishers in each category received cash and trophies for their efforts. These include the junior females U-17, junior males U-17, senior females 18 years and over and senior males 18 years and over. The first place finishers in each category received $35,000; second place, $25,000 while those finishing third received $15,000. (Michael Benjamin)