13 Apr Jake’s Off-Road Triathlon: Treasure Beach, Jamaica
If you love off-the-beaten-path travel and a good fitness challenge, you’ll love Jake’s Off-Road Triathlon in Treasure Beach, Jamaica. The event is the Caribbean’s longest running off-road triathlon and was voted one of the ‘Top Five Off-Road Races in the World’ by Triathlete Magazine.
Race Run Down
The race features a 500m ocean swim, 24k rugged bike ride, and finishes with a sun-toasted 7k run. Individuals and relay teams are both welcome.
For those traveling with a family, there is usually a “Likkle Jakes” kids race held just after the main triathlon wraps up, which can also be raced as an individual or a relay.
According to race coordinator, Jim Curl, Jake’s Off-Road Triathlon was founded by Jason Henzell (owner of the charming Jake’s boutique hotel) in Spring 1995 as a way of thanking the Peace Corps volunteers in Jamaica. Today, many Peace Corps Volunteers still gather every April to compete and volunteer at the race alongside local Jamaican and international athletes. We came to know and love the event during our Peace Corps service from 2012-2014.
Jake’s Triathlon is also a fundraiser for BREDS, a non-profit that promotes education, sports, cultural heritage, and emergency healthcare in the small (pop. 500) community of Treasure Beach.
How to Have a Great Race at Jake’s Triathlon
- Register online at Active.com to get the pre-race pasta dinner and T-shirt. Registration can also be done at Jake’s the evening before the race, but the dinner and shirt will then have to be purchased separately. If you need to rent a mountain bike, be sure to do so in advance and try to arrive early on registration day to get first choice, as the quality of bikes varies.
- Slow down. Before you race your tail off, take time to soak up the culture. This intimate event gels with the laid-back, casual vibe of Treasure Beach. Spend some time getting to know the other participants and don’t be surprised if some things happen on “Jamaican time.”
- Know the route. There’s not a whole lot of information out there about the race course, so it’s best to attend the informational meeting at Jake’s the evening beforehand. While competing on the bike and run portions, you may not always have other participants nearby, so keep a watchful eye out for the hand-painted arrows that direct you along the route.
- Be prepared. If you’re not used to running in hot climates, take extra precautions to hydrate and wear sunscreen. The running portion usually gets underway around 8am, which is late enough to keep you in hot, direct sun. Take advantage of every water station- even if it’s just to pour on your head and cool off.
(Also, don’t forget to keep bug spray nearby during your stay, even if you’re in a hotel.)
- Celebrate. After the race, hang out at Jack Sprat’s to enjoy pizza, Jamaican dishes, ice cream, and a dip in the ocean. Sponsors usually provide a few post-race treats and prizes are announced in the afternoon.
About Treasure Beach, Jamaica
Treasure Beach is truly a gem, considered one of the best off-the-beaten path vacation destinations by Jamaicans and foreign visitors. Its laid-back, friendly vibe and active community organizations recently earned Treasure Beach the title of “best community in Jamaica.”
If you can’t stay at Jake’s Hotel, guest house rentals are plentiful and affordable in the area. Check Booking.com: Treasure Beach or TreasureBeach.net for a comprehensive list of options and general tourism information. In high season (December through April), you will find a number of Jamaican cook shops open for meals, not to mention the restaurant at Jake’s, Jack Sprat’s next door, and some of the other small hotels. In low season, the town gets a bit more “sleepy” and your options will be more limited.
The parish of St. Elizabeth is known as the “bread basket” of Jamaica. As you drive in (it’s 2-3 hours from Montego Bay or 3-4 hours from the Kingston airport), you’ll see beautiful farmland. Don’t expect the pristine beaches or flashy tourism- Treasure Beach is a bit more rugged and raw. Toward the coast, the climate gets more arid than tropical- but still beautiful in its own way.
If you’re planning to stay put in town- or just do one or two day trips- you can get by in Treasure Beach without a car, as long as your accommodations are on one of the main bays. If you want to do more sight-seeing, can tolerate a few surprises, and don’t mind driving on the left side of the road, renting a car can be a great adventure.
While not particularly convenient for visiting the main tourist attractions on the North Coast, there are a few worthwhile spots you can get to from Treasure Beach. Recommended day trips would be the floating Pelican Bar and Black River safari boat tour, Y.S. Falls (beautiful waterfalls, zip-lining, and quality gift shop – pictured left), and the Appleton Rum Estate Tour.
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