Local high schools will get a golden opportunity to claim they are top of the sporting class this fall. For the first time in its 30-year history, Grand Bahama’s internationally-famed Conchman Triathlon will have a category to identify the top schools in the event.
Conchman organisers are hoping that every senior school on the island will enter teams in the mixed-discipline competition and have even added incentive to encourage both private and government high schools to participate. In addition to school bragging rights being up for grabs, organisers have waived entry fees for student teams and will award cash prizes to schools with the highest placing teams.
As each school will be allowed to register an unlimited number of three-member teams, the school whose three teams place highest will receive $500. The school finishing in second place will receive $300 and the school that finishes third will receive $200. Participating schools must have at least three teams to be in contention for a cash prize.
The competition comprises three sprint distance events: a 750-metre swim, a 20-kilometre (km) bike ride and a 5km run. Each student will be asked to complete just one discipline.
“With this format, participating schools will be able to use their best track athletes and competitive swimmers on the same teams,” Conchman Chairman Christopher Baker said. “As a result, we are expecting some really impressive times to be set. We want to show what these youngsters can do athletically while giving them a chance to compete, have fun, and possibly gain some funding for theirs schools.”
The innovation is part of an effort to spread the appeal of the competition. As this year marks the 30th anniversary of the Conchman, the objective is to increase participation throughout the community, particularly among young people, while emphasising the importance of fitness and health in laying the foundation for a happy and long life.
Over the years, the Conchman has increased in popularity, attracting competitors who range in age from four years old to 79.
“A lot of people sign up year after year, and as they get older and enter the veteran classes, it becomes almost a matter of honour to keep going,” Mr Baker said. “This is great because that level of commitment helps people prepare for the race and keeps them focused on issues like their diets and general fitness levels.
“There is also a social dimension to the race. We have participants who travel to compete each year. These people have made friends through the triathlon and look forward to seeing them at the event. For students, it will be a similar experience. This will be a chance for them to meet with peers in a context outside the regular sports seasons.”
The 30th annual Conchman Triathlon takes place on Guy Fawkes Day, November 5. In addition to the usual sprint triathlon and Iron Kids competitions, this year’s event will feature Olympic-distance races for persons in top physical shape: a 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run. The daylong series of events will culminate in a Junkanoo rush-out, bonfire and fireworks display.
Once again, the event will be based at Taino Beach, the third venue in its illustrious history.
Organisers have been planning the event for some months now and will be partnering with the Ministry of Tourism and the Grand Bahama Tourism Board. They have also engaged local companies in discussions about sponsorship and participation in the inter-company event, similar to the inter-school competition.
More than 160 people competed in the first event in 1986 and since then, the Conchman has been truly established in the international athletic calendar with thousands of competitors traveling from as far away as Europe and the west coast of the United States. The event’s objectives have remained the same from the start – to stage a positive community event that could contribute to the island’s charitable organisations – and this mission will continue.
“We want this event to have a significant community impact, whether residents and guests are competing or not,” Mr Baker said. “The BASRA Swim on Coral Beach has become a major event on the island for hundreds of people. We want the Conchman to surpass that, if we can, to mark this special year.”