The U.S. Virgin Islands is home to many internationally recognized sporting events from triathlons to sportfishing competitions. The islands provide optimal conditions for these events including challenging race courses, deep troughs and temperate waters. Many hotels and resorts offer packages for participants and spectators. Here's a sampling of the best of the best in ST. Croix sporting events.
Coral Reef Swim
One of America's most successful swim competitions, the meet features swimmers from all over the world, including some former Olympians. The open water course runs from Buck Island National Monument, a U.S. underwater coral reef park, to the Buccaneer Hotel, a luxury resort on St. Croix's east end. The event is held annually during the month of October. For additional information visit www.swimrace.com
Half Ironman 70.3 Triathlon
One of the premier triathlons in the world, the annual event lures top professionals to the island to compete in the challenging course. The event includes a 1.24 mile swim through the Christiansted Harbor, transitioning to a 56-mile bike course featuring the legendary climb up "the Beast," a 600-foot, 7/10-mile climb at grades between 14-21%. The race culminates with a 13.1 mile run back into Christiansted. Top finishers can fill 28 qualifying slots to the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii and 40 slots to the World Championships in Florida. To learn about the 2009 race, visit www.stcroixtriathlon.com.
Golden Hook Challenge
The challenge is the first in a series of tournaments hosted by the Golden Hook Fishing Club. The organization encourages saltwater game fishing while instilling an awareness of marine life conservation. The billfish tournament begins just two miles offshore in one of the world's deepest troughs close to shore. Fishermen also travel east to Lange Bank, about five miles north of Buck Island, where marlin and other game fish are known to run. In addition to the cash purse, winning teams receive a gold marlin pendant and their boat name on the perpetual trophy. Details on this and other club tournaments can be found at www.fishstx.com
Virgin Islands Half-Marathon
This is long distance running with the best scenic background. The race travels the east end loop of St. Croix from north to south, and is certified by the International Association of Athletic Federations and the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races. Finishing participants are awarded Pace Runners Virgin Islands Half-Marathon medals. Race details and registration forms are available at www.virginislandspace.org
Annual Fort-to-Fort Relay
Open to teams of four runners made up of all male, all female, or combination teams, this race begins in Christiansted near the fort and finishes at Fort Frederik in Frederiksted. The race benefits the VI Pace Runner's athletic programs and the Ten Thousand Helpers program which serves the homeless and mentally ill. The event is sanctioned by the VI Track and Field Federation. For more information visit www.virginislandspace.org.