Kakabona beach, Guadalcanal, Honiara, Solomon Islands.
To Do

Trying Tri Club

on
September 27, 2018

Before coming to the Solomon Islands, the longest distance Nid had ever ran in a single stint was 2 km, which would have to be followed by a set of wicked wings to recuperate after the harrowing experience. Nid hates cardio. It is boring.

By some accident, someone thought he looked like a triathlete and invited him along.

Triathlon Solomon Islands, or TriSI, is run by a local bloke who trains local triathletes and goes by the name of Tomo. Training is every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning at a beach out west of town called Kakabona. Kakabona beach is the closest beach to Honiara deemed clean enough to swim in. TriSi trains in the ocean because there aren’t any big enough pools here in the Solomon Islands.

“Triathlon Club” isn’t a very user-friendly name and whenever we mention it to anyone who hasn’t been before they have a little spaz. The word “triathlon” carries much responsibility. However, at this triathlon club, you can try as hard or as little as you like. If you’ve ever wanted to join a triathlon club without having the prerequisite abs this is your golden opportunity. In saying that, the local boys do have a lot of abs but just stand next to all the other expats and you can blend in.

 Honestly, the club needs a better name and Dan and Nid have two suggestions for TriSi’s rebranding:

  • Try Club: For people who like trying things (in particular trying swimming and running, or just trying swimming, or just trying running, or just trying waking up early to go to the beach).
  • Swimswim Club: Because one swim isn’t enough and if you say “swim” twice it sounds really cute and you’re speaking Pijin to boot.

We had our own little spaz the first time someone asked us if we wanted to come along to Try club, “But we don’t even have bikes!” Turns out, neither does anyone else and we discovered there is a very strong lean towards non-biking activities and more focus around the other two-thirds of the Tri things that don’t involve a bike i.e. swimming and running.

Swimswim is a very casual affair and Tomo has a bag of goggles and kickboards for borrowing. Most people go for the swim and only a few will do any running. A set of inflatable plastic balls covered in plastic bags tied to rocks is chucked into the ocean to use as swimming distance markers. Tomo will run the triathletes through some training drills and those who aren’t involved with the training will do their own swimming or floundering thing at their own pace. If you don’t know how to swim, this is a kind and nonjudgmental place to give it a go. When everyone feels like they’ve done enough exercise, training ends with a game of waterpolo

On the last Saturday of every month, Tomo puts on a race. There aren’t enough bikes for a real triathlon, so it’s usually just an aquathlon. The full race is a 750 m-ish swim and 5 km-ish run, and the short race is a 400 m-ish swim and 2.5 km-ish run. Everything ends with “ish” based on Tomo’s guesstimates for the month. Every couple of months there is also the “City to Surf” 10 km walk/run from Mambo Juice to Mbonegge.

So far Nid has competed in four short races this year and has won several prizes. Our favourite was a bottle opener keyring for all the beer that Nid doesn’t drink as a non-drinker. And just last week he finished his first 10 km run. The longest distance he’s run without stopping, ever.

TriSi is also held in high regard with the local newspaper, the Island Sun. Thanks to Try Club, Nid has had his lifelong dream of being featured in the Sports Section realised.

Island Sun newspaper, Solomon Islands.

It’s always such a thrill to see ourselves featured in the paper especially when it’s the local Island Sun. For July’s aquathlon, athletes swam an unbelievable distance of 750 km! If that’s not goal smashing we dunno what is.

We never imagined Try Club would be one of our favourite pastimes here in the Solomon Islands. We’d never be able to join a Triathlon Club in New Zealand with our current level of trying. Is it because standards for everything here are that much more relaxed, or is it just that people are more welcoming? Lately, even the sea has been welcoming and we’ve been rewarded by visits of sealife including dugongs and dolphins.

Kakabona beach, Guadalcanal, Honiara, Solomon Islands.
That humped speck in the middle of the photo is a dugong.
Kakabona beach, Guadalcanal, Honiara, Solomon Islands.
Dugong closer in this picture but still not great quality.

So, if you are in any way aquatically-inclined, even if it’s just to wade in the water and watch the sunrise, try Kakabona beach at 6:30 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 7:30 am on Saturdays. People are a bit thin on the ground on Tuesdays and Thursdays but there are always lots of people on Saturdays. It’s one of the best ways to start off your morning and remind you that being here in the Sollies, is actually pretty cool.

Directions

From the old Mambo Juice keep going west for about 4 km. There will be a sign for Kakabona beach along with the beach access fees. If you go past an area that looks like it’s just been razed and logged, you’ve gone about 100 m too far.

Kastom Fee

If you’re coming for Try Club, it’s SBD 10 per person. On any other day, it’s the usual SBD 30-50 depending on the size of your car.

If you become a regular tryer of Try Club, ask someone to add you to the Facebook Messenger group for the updates. And for those interested, Kakabona also has an excellent half-day hike.

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Dan and Nid
Honiara, Solomon Islands

Kia ora. We are Dan and Nid. Exploring the Solomon Islands for the next two years.

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