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French triathlete Elisabeth Mondon ready for Jakes triathlon

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The annual Jakes Off Road Triathlon requires more than physical strength.

And Elisabeth Mondon will tell you that it is an event which also requires mental fortitude and extreme discipline.

On an island whose athletes are celebrated in every corner of the earth, Mondon, a petite French triathlete, is here leaving endless competitors in the dust.

The continent-hopping coastal engineer, who arrived in Kingston back in 2007, is a 10-year veteran who will be among the 150 participants taking the challenge at this year's 23rd Malta-sponsored Jakes triathlon at Treasure Beach in St Elizabeth today.

Mondon came of age on a tiny French island off the coast of Madagascar called Réunion — where the rugged landscape has forged a culture of extreme fitness on land, and the surrounding sea, a population of serious swimmers.

It is actually home to one of the planet's most challenging athletic competitions – a Mountain Ultramarathon.

In a place of extreme athletics, Mondon was a born competitor. From the age of five she was racing and excelling in both swimming and track and field events, including the 60m, 1000m and 2000m, high jump, triple jump and long jump.

And during the winter season she went for distance, becoming a cross-country standout.

When she was 13 Mondon's family moved to Fontainebleau, just south of Paris, where her formal training truly began.

For the next six years she raced and trained, participating in the famed France Championship in both cross- country and 800m and earning a spot on a qualifying team for a Cross Country World Championship.

Fast-forward to her many years of competition throughout the Caribbean, Mondon is excited about once again accepting the challenge of this event which includes a 300m swim, a 25K mountain bike ride and a 7K off-road trail run.

She's modest but proud about her wins. But her background allows her to see the unique potential for Jamaica to become an even more serious athletic place.

“I've participated in many triathlons in the Caribbean, but I'm very excited for the Jakes triathlon on Saturday. What makes this event so unique is the off-road experience, and the lovely beach as scenery is icing on the cake,” Mondon noted.

Mondon admits that along with a gruelling training regime, another key focus for a triathlete should be staying energised for the day of the event, which includes plenty of hydration and a solid breakfast approximately one and a half hours before.

“Triathlons in general are very fun for me but I will say it's a challenging sport that takes a lot of dedication and more importantly, extreme discipline. To properly prepare for this type of event, it takes training for as many as six months in advance on a long- term plan, but on a short term it could be as little as eight to 11 weeks.

“I've been training from January. I have a routine where once a day I will practise at least two of the exercises; whether it's running and swimming or riding and running, with one rest day per week,” Mondon explained.

The triathlon has a number of sponsors to aid runners in staying hydrated and energised. Among them is D&G Malta, which will be refuelling athletes before the race and at the finishing line.