Skip to main content

St. Croix 70.3 - FINISHERS!

In 2012, Karel and I searched for a challenging half ironman for us to share the experience together. We chose Branson 70.3.
You see, Karel made the jump into triathlons in 2012 and he wanted a course that challenged him for his first 70.3 distance. I was on board for this course because not only would we get to travel somewhere new (and if you know me well, you know I love to race to travel and travel to race) but this course had a lot of climbing and that was exactly what I love in a bike course. 

Perhaps this seems a bit crazy to choose a course that has been ranked as one of the hardest bike courses (although, after riding both Branson 70.3 and St Croix 70.3 I may need to disagree on this) for Karel’s first half IM but we enjoy a challenge when it comes to racing. We certainly do not take for granted that 70.3 or 140.6 miles is a long way for the human body to go but we thrive off challenges, especially when it comes to swimming, biking and then running on difficult courses. 

I heard of the St. Croix 70.3 several years ago when I started into endurance triathlons and it was always on my bucket list of races to do. Before I qualified for my first IM World Championship in Kona Hawaii, this race destination was so appealing because it was on an island and was known to be tough. 

From what I knew about the course it had everything that I love in a course and things that I know would challenge me and perhaps even take me out of my comfort zone.

When Karel and I were planning our 2014 race season, we talked about the possibility of doing this race, not to try to Kona qualify but just to conquer this course and everything that comes with it – heat, wind, hills, descends, humidity, ocean swim, the “Beast”, bumpy roads, trails and grass on the run course and a small race vibe feel.

We booked our travel early in the year and all of our prep was gearing up for this race. We came to St. Croix to race among some of the best athletes around the world who come to this race for Kona slots and to conquer this challenging, yet incredibly beautiful course. Plus you can't beat this location for a vacation so why not suffer for 70.3 miles in the middle of our travels to the Virgin Islands. 

Both Karel and myself were a bit nervous for this race course. Not because of the 70.3 distance (for this was Karel’s 7th half IM distance and this was my 9th half IM distance) but instead because of the unknown.

The biggest unknown when it comes to challenging courses is how the body will accept all of the race course stress. Even if you are ready for the perfect race, plan to pace your perfect race or push your limits, you never know how a course will affect your body and mind. With a challenging course, there is the unknown of what the body will do in the next mile (or not do) but also you are constantly using every skill/tool that you have as an athlete to prepare for the next mile. 
The most important parts of "surviving" tough courses are hydration, calories/sport nutrition, pacing, attitude, proper clothing and practical gear/equipment. But even if you try to control all of these variables that can positively affect your race, there is still that unknown of how your body will swim, bike and the run to the finish line.

Now that we have earned our St. Croix 70.3 finisher medals and can say “been there, done that!” it is time to celebrate, thank our bodies, reflect and continue to challenge ourselves as we dream big and work hard for our goals….and explore amazing parts of this world by swimming, biking and running on exciting race courses.
Thank you for your support and for following us along - we appreciated all the good luck vibes (no flats - although we both had our share of issues throughout the bike course which I will share in my race reports). We are both incredibly happy with our performances today on this island.

Race reports to come…….
But first, here's the stats from our race today.


Marni Sumbal
6th age group (30-34)
1.2 mile swim: 33:42
T1: 2:12
56 mile bike: 3:05:47 (18.09mph)
T2: 1:25
13.1 mile run: 1:41:28 (7:44 min/mile) 
Total time: 5:24:34
25th overall female
14th overall amateur
5th fastest amateur run split

Karel Sumbal
11th age group (35-39)
1.2 mile swim: 36:48
T1: 1:27
56 mile bike: 2:43 (20.6mph)
T2: 1:15
13.1 mile run: 1:34 (7:11 min/mile)
Total time: 4:56:53
45th overall male
73rd overall
32nd amateur male