The who, what, why, when of the Vineyard Warrior Triathlon


The Vineyard’s first triathlon in more than 15 years is planned for Sunday, Sept. 11. Participating in the first Vineyard Warrior Triathlon could be the goal you need to get you into the best shape of your life, but you’ll need to start now, as the training can prove intense.

Triathlons, “tris” for short, come in many shapes and sizes. The tri is a swim, a bike ride, and a run of varying distances, in that order. It requires months of training and good eating. Regular swims, runs, and serious biking have to be squeezed in between work and family obligations. A commitment to a tri is often a life-changing experience.

The segments of this triathlon, called an Olympic triathlon because of its distance, are a one-mile swim, a 24-mile bike ride, and a 6.2-mile run. The last triathlon on the Island was an Ironman, in 1994. The Ironman distances are a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and a full marathon run of 26.2-miles.

For the first leg, the swim leg, there will be swimmers racing to reach the tall ship Providence, leaving at the gun from Inkwell beach in Oak Bluffs. Once they swim around the ship, anchored about a half mile from the starting point, they will head back to the beach, sprint to mount their bicycles at Waban Park to hightail it through the towns of Tisbury, West Tisbury, Edgartown, and back to Oak Bluffs. Leaping from their bikes, they will then run the last leg to the finish line.

The Vineyard Warrior Tri is the brainchild of Matthew Brackman, who now lives in Sarasota, Florida. Mr. Brackman grew up in Massachusetts and visited the Island as a child. He spent the better part of a summer here in 2002, training for a triathlon, and he has returned many times since.

Almost three years ago, he mentioned to his wife that the Vineyard would be a perfect place for a race, and since then he has been toying with the idea. He has been the co-director of the Florida International Triathlon in Sarasota the past two years, and he is president of Odyssey TriSport LLC, which is in the business of promoting triathlons.

In addition to bringing to the Vineyard the tall ship Providence, from whose deck the swimming leg of the race may be watched, Mr. Brackman has invited top level tri-athletes, including six-time Ironman world champion Mark Allen, who will lead clinics in the days before the race. Mr. Brackman anticipates between 500 and 800 competitors, with registrants from 16 states and Canada already signed up, as of early June.

There will be a children’s no-swim tri on the Saturday before race day at Waban Park in Oak Bluffs. More information and registration details are available online at Details of each leg of the race and of ancillary activities will also be available online when they are confirmed. Many volunteers will be required. Mr. Brackman is making a donation to the Boys and Girls Club, which will help organize the many volunteers who will be needed to make the event a success. Contact the club at 508-627-3303 or visit for more information and to sign-up.

Tony Omer, an avid biker, lives in West Tisbury. He is on staff at The Times.