Grand Bahama premiered another international sporting event this past weekend with the advent of the Family Fitness Weekend Triathlon, a part of the Coca-Cola Triathlon Series organized by Exclusive Sports Marketing.

Don Cornish, District Manager Special Markets with the Ministry of Tourism, said that the Ministry has partnered with ESM to promote an annual triathlon in The Bahamas.

“We wanted to get into a market where there was a producer available who already had an audience participating in a series, and who would find it easy to come into The Bahamas to gain points.

“Because Grand Bahama was a logical location, as in proximity, they would find it attractive enough to come here on an annual basis.

This inaugural event came of OK considering that we had some challenges. Over 100 person signed up but because of the hurricane some cancelled.

According to Cornish, the goal in the sports department of the Ministry of Tourism is to produce anchor events around which they can build a lot or packaging and promotions to get spectatorship to the islands of The Bahamas that are attached to those sporting events every year.

“So we know that on the U.S. Labour Day each year we will have on Grand Bahama a triathlon event, or beach volleyball or golf or tennis or basketball, something that will provide us the opportunity for promotions,” said Cornish.

Winners in this inaugural event were Robert Skaggs from Tampa, Florida in the Male Elite Division, (56:42.159), and in the Ladies Elite Division Lottie Branigan, Vero Beach, Florida, (59:9.573).

Skaggs said that every time there is a race in The Bahamas he tries to make it, pointing out that it’s a great place for a race, the water is nice and the venue fantastic. Branigan noted that she has been here several times, and “If there is a triathlon here it is worth coming over for; it makes it fun to get some vacation in along with the families that also came over,” she said.

Steve Tebon from Boca Raton, Florida, organizer of the event said that for an inaugural event it was phenomenal.

“On a scale of 1-10 it was a 7.5-8. The Ministry of Tourism staff came together and really did more that we expected. The Police were on the money and the conditions were great. We want to tell these athletes a story through our Sun-sports 10m home television show. With all of the athletes who came here we’re telling a story, building a book, and with partnership help, we can do a lot better, said Tee Bron.

The event involved a ½ mile swim, an 11-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run, all a part of a series held in the southeastern United States.

Cornish said that down the road, October 21-24, Grand Bahama would be hosting a major beach volleyball series featuring some 150 teams.

Also down the road another new brand of triathlon that raises the bar at two different levels of competition is set for Grand Bahama in November.

Genesis Adventures, the premier endurance sports promotion company in the Northeast, has added a half-EnduraSport triathlon to its first-ever EnduraSport event set for November 19 on Grand Bahama Island.

Terrance Roberts of the Ministry of Tourism, Grand Bahama, said triathletes now have the option of entering a 75-mile Half-EnduraSport or the full, 150-mile EnduraSport Triathlon announced recently by Brian Duncanson, President of Genesis Adventures. Both races stretch the limits of the sport; the 150-mile EnduraSport is longer than the traditional, 140.6-mile Iron-man triathlon.

The Half EnduraSport consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 60.7-mile bike race and a 13.1-mile run; while the full EnduraSport combines a 2.8-mile swim, a 121 mile bike race and a 26.2-mile run. With these increased distances, Duncanson hopes EnduraSport will become a household name in the triathlete community.

The main event site will be at the Viva Wyndham Resort at Fortuna Beach on Grand Bahama Island, just outside Freeport. The beach offers a spectacular swim location with crystal clear water. The island has many paved roads with little or no traffic for the bike course and very few hills, making it ideal for the distances –– flat and fast. The course will be looped through scenic areas, allowing spectators to cheer for competitors multiple times.

“Grand Bahama is an ideal location for this type of event,” Duncanson noted. “We want to have an event focused on the athletes plus a great destination. It’s beautiful, easy to reach from the U.S. and will make a great finale to the triathlon season.”

Registration will take place Friday, November 18, along with a pre-race meeting and dinner. The race begins on Saturday at 7 a.m. at the Viva Wyndham Resort at Fortuna Beach. On Sunday, November 20 at 2 p.m., athletes can celebrate at the awards banquet and post-race party at the resort.

Also in November, the Junkanoo Jam Basketball Jamboree returns featuring ranked ladies college teams from Division I of the NCAA Division, and the first National Workers Cooperative Credit Union Golf Classic featuring teams from the US and the Caribbean. [Source: Bahamas Information Services]