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St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon

International sports action comes to the Virgin Islands the first weekend in May when some of the worlds most competitive triathletes descend on St. Croix to compete in the St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon. This event is a qualifier for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, and attracts some of the world’s most elite athletes to compete for a spot in Hawaii. The St. Croix 70.3 Ironman begins at 6:30 am when the first wave of athletes plunge into the turquoise water off of Hotel on the Cay for the 1.24 mile swim around Christiansted Harbor.After the swim, they take their bikes from the staging area and cycle through Christiansted in front of Fort Christianvaern on a 56 mile ride that traverses the island, then they run 13.1 miles to the East End and around the grounds of The Buccaneer Hotel. The winners cross the finish line on Kings Wharf roughly four hours later. Well before the start, the excitement builds on the Christiansted waterfront as spectators crowd the boardwalk and helicopters carrying sports photographers circle the cay, vying for the best angle.Dubbed “Beauty and the Beast” for its scenic yet challenging course, the St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon has never lacked for applicants and has hosted at least five reigning Ironman World Champions. 

The St. Croix race offers 10 slots for Ironman USA Lake Placid and 10 slots for Subaru Ironman Canada. St. Croix has a reputation for being a solid proving ground because of its hot, hilly terrain. Cameron Brown of New Zealand, a previous qualifier for Hawaii, told Triathlete magazine that St. Croix is “probably the hardest half Ironman around.” One of the most challenging parts of the course comes 21 miles into the bike with the legendary “Beast,” a 600-foot climb on a stretch of highway nearly a mile long above the North Shore. It is one of the best places to watch the race, and the number of cheering spectators that line its steep sides helps boost athletes’ spirits.

st. croix ironman the beast

“The Beast”, the St. Croix Ironman’s infamous hill.

Another favorite spectating spot is the “Hot Corner”, where athletes coming from the first loop of the bike make a sharp left onto Company Street from Hospital Street. The Hot Corner also serves as a crossroads between Ironman and sprint course racers coming and going from the staging area on the lawn beside the fort.The St. Croix Ironman 70.3 triathlon stands to be the island’s most exciting athletic event. 

St. Croix Ironman Triathlon

“The race continues to grow and we have potentially one of the best fields ever,” Tom Guthrie, race director said. Many Virgin Islands residents are also proud to compete in such a elite, and well known event, whether it be on the sprint course or the full 70.3 miles. Morgan Locke, a native of St. Croix and former championship swimmer, was the first Virgin Islander to cross the finish line of the 70.3 course in 2010, and has since gone on to represent the Virgin Islands in the triathlon at other international sporting events. Of course, with the high-profile field comes the press, which includes ESPN International, EuroSport and the Outdoor Life Network. The coverage of those networks will bring the trials, triumphs and beauty of the St. Croix Half Ironman to millions of viewers worldwide.

The St. Croix Ironman 70.3 is hosted by Project St. Croix, a non-profit organization founded by the late Betty Sperber in the 1980s to promote St. Croix. Project St. Croix has hosted the race since it began in 1988 as the Americas Paradise Triathlon and later turned into the St. Croix International Triathlon. It works year-round to secure sponsorship for the race. Also part of race preparation is coordinating home stays for pro athletes, lining up volunteers and organizing race-week activities. Other than the race itself, one of the most anticipated activities of race week is the Christiansted Restaurant and Retail Associations Triathlon Jump Up, beginning at 6 p.m. on the Friday before the race. For many athletes, the best part of Jump Up is the Carbo Feast. As part of their registration, athletes receive free tickets to participating restaurants in downtown Christiansted, which serve up carb-heavy dinners with a Caribbean flair. Race Week is marked by numerous organized training swims in Christiansted Harbor and the sight of bikers and runners training on St. Croix’s roads. Undoubtedly, the St. Croix Ironman 70.3 is the largest international sporting event in the Virgin Islands, if not the Caribbean, and a great opportunity for the Virgin Islands to grow as a world-class sporting destination.

Children Race Christiansted

The Children’s Color Race is held annually as part of Triathlon Jump Up in Christiansted

Race Week is also marked by numerous organized training swims in Christiansted Harbor and the sight of bikers and runners training on St. Croix’s roads. Undoubtedly, the St. Croix Ironman 70.3 is the largest international sporting event in the Virgin Islands, if not the Caribbean, and a great opportunity for the Virgin Islands to grow as a world-class sporting destination. For more information pertaining the the race, and to learn how you can volunteer or participate, please see the official website: StCroixTriathlon.com.

Editor’s Note: We are sad to report that 2017 will be the final year that the St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon event will take place. You can read more about the reasons why the event will no longer be taking place here in our Fitness blog The Final St. Croix Ironman 70.3 Triathlon.