Remar Sutton
December 5, 1988; Page c5

GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND -- As you contemplate a festive and indulgent holiday season, please take a minute to read the comments of another formerly "normal" person who spent 1988 pursuing Conchdom ... a person who achieved it on Grand Bahama Island two weeks ago, and made some pretty impressive new friends, too "I find that every story on every side of me is one of even better, stronger, deeper commitment. ... Quite simply, the knowledge that one can improve far more than you ever thought possible -- that's what makes this worthwhile."

Accomplishing goals you never thought your body and mind could deliver, then having a dramatic reward -- that's what Conchdom is about.

On Grand Bahama two weeks ago, for instance, Conch Outs not only participated in a mini-triathlon, we also explored the island on bikes, swam with dolphins, made lifetime friends, limboed on a pirate ship, and generally celebrated. Not a single Conch Out wanted the experience to end, either, and just about everyone wanted to pull someone they cared for into our pretty select circle. (Only 400 cars in the world, for instance, wear a "Conch Out '88" bumper sticker.)

If you're game, we're going to keep designing events and activities.

Looking Ahead

If you'd like to join us, here's a preview of what's up, starting Jan. 2.

Three special training calendars guaranteed to make you a triathlete. Tear one out, put it on the fridge, and change your life; no kidding. If you're pure slug, one calendar will be for you. If you're a seasoned Conch, there'll be another one. If you're really short on training time, a third one should suit you.

Have the family train together: Two weeks ago, we had one family of 13 here, all participating. If you really don't think you can train for all three legs of an event, make up a team. Teams are legal in all Conch events, and the events are going to be pretty spectacular.

In the late spring, for our first noncompetitive event of the year, we'll swim 1/4-mile, bike 4 and run or walk 2 in an exotic setting right out of a movie. (If you already have sent in for a summer Conchathon training calendar, don't worry. We'll mail it to you as soon as it's published.)

On Sept. 16, The Post will sponsor the second annual Conchathon in D.C. Again, swim 1/4-mile, bike 4 and run 2.

Next is a longer challenge: swim 1 mile, bike 10 and walk or run 4.

Then, there's the Grand Bahama Conch Man in November. If you are itchy to race competitively, the Conch Man's the place.

Whichever event you train for, you won't be bored once your toes touch sand, either. Conch Outs are a veritable people-to-people program on heels and wheels. We get into a lot together.

Two weeks ago, for example, we traded training stories with the American ambassador to the Bahamas (she competed), took a bike tour led by a world-record biker (he cycled 16,000 miles on one trip), lifted weights with Mr. Bahamas, drank lite rum moderately (relatively speaking), took over the Junkanoo parade, and generally made joyous noises.

Can anyone go on a Conch Out trip? Nope. You either must be a registered participant or be signed up on a participant's entry form as a support person. Also, we're going to keep the events small enough that our special Conch Out camaraderie isn't lost.

Who's going to manage all of this? Conch Out volunteers, and a nonprofit Conch Out corporation. I'll give you the details in January.

And between now and Jan. 2? If you're already a Conch Out, exercise moderately, celebrate the holiday season, and relax. If you're new to the fold, consider opening a Conch Out savings account this week at a bank at least 15 minutes' walking distance away, and put at least $10 there. If you're intrigued by all of this, but alone, muster up the courage and find a training partner.

So, what if you're too old or too far gone? Or can't swim? Or have bad knees? If you can move at all, boy are you going to be surprised at your progress each week. Conchdom overcomes handicaps. Your only competition is with yourself.

And then there's your conch shell at the finish line. With your name on it. In conchdom, to finish is to come in first.

Right now, in the midst of the holidays, start looking for a training partner. Tonight, dream about an island and sand between your toes. In a month, the routine of your life is going to change a little. The reward will be enormous.