Remar Sutton
Column: FIT OVER 40
December 19, 1988; Page d5

ST. THOMAS, U.S.V.I. -- As the jeep turned on to Charlotte Amalie's harborfront drive and headed to Government House, "Jingle Bells" started playing on the radio. A bright blue banana boat -- loaded also with a cow and goats -- floated snugly against the harbor wall.

Ten cruise ships dotted the harbor, and a seaplane swept over dozens of sailboats, rising above volcanic mountains on its way to San Juan. Conch Outs, I thought, are going to like it here in the American paradise, the United States Virgin Islands.

A thousand miles southeast of the Bahamas, these islands -- St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas -- are going to be the site of three Conch Out events in 1989 and hopefully into the future. The U.S.V.I. also is going to be the seat of the nonprofit foundation that will host our events from now until the conch shells come home.

And then there are the D.C. Conchathon and the Grand Bahama Conch Man. We're going to be busy having fun in the new year.

So, if you're planning to Conch Out, and are up for some exotic rewards for your efforts, take a gander at our year of events:

June 24 -- a swim, hike, run Conchathon in the Virgin Islands. Swim three-fourths of a mile along a beautiful beach, then run and hike nearly 5 miles up a mountain road -- a rise of about 1,500 feet. Your training calendar appears here Jan. 2. It starts with a 15-minute walk, and includes a stair-walking program that will have you virtually strolling up modest heights like the Washington Monument in no time. Right now, how many flights of stairs can you climb without being winded? Swim training starts in March if you're an inexperienced swimmer and, regardless of your skills, will have you ready for our swim. Absolutely not going to swim? You can have a partner.

Sept. 16 -- The Second Annual Washington Post Conchathon. Swim 440 yards, bike 6 miles, run 2. All Conch Outs in training love this event. You have to do all three legs individually, and stair climbing helps a lot with your biking stamina. Your training calendar will be available in May.

Nov. 11 -- The Third Annual Grand Bahama Island Conch Man Mini-Triathlon. Swim 1 mile, bike 10, run 4. The Grand Bahama Conch Man next year will be limited to competitive entrants. If you want to compete for times and prizes and perform in all three events, we'll be happy to forward your name. We will also provide a maintenance calendar for those of you who are already in shape and wish to compete in this or any other mini-triathlon. Simply send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to "Bahamas Event," P.O. Box 77033, Atlanta, Ga., 30357, and we'll mail it to you as soon after Jan. 1 as it's ready.

Dec. 2 -- A swim, run, really climb a mountain Conchathon in the Virgin Islands. Swim a mile, run or fast-walk 2 miles, and climb straight up a steep mountain path. Part of the way, you'll probably have to pull along a rope to keep your traction. Your calendar runs Jan. 9, and starts with a 15-minute walk. How is your stair-walking stamina? How about your upper body strength? Our training schedule will help you. Can't swim? Wouldn't it be a kick to learn how? If you won't, you can have

Dec. 9 -- A swim, bike, run Conchathon in the Virgin Islands: Swim 1 mile, bike 10 and run 4. The distances here are the same for the Grand Bahama Conch Man, but you can have one-person or three-person teams and everyone who finishes wins. Your calendar runs Jan. 16 and starts with a 15-minute walk.

Conch Outs who participated in the November Conch Man: If you only did one leg, do all three in this event. You did say you wanted to do that, didn't you?

If you've already started a walking schedule as earlier columns suggested, use your current walking times until the calendar times catch up with you, but walk faster. Cover more distance in your walking times.

You don't have to make a trip or enter an event to be a Conch Out. Pick a training schedule that suits you and follow it for your own personal satisfaction. It's the commitment and training that make you a Conch Out. You're also welcome to write for the free newsletter.

Because participation in all Conch Out activities will be limited, decide which event (or events) seems right for you, talk to your friends and be ready to sign up by writing for a special, free Conch Out newsletter on Jan. 2, when the first training calendar appears. The newsletter includes an entry form for all events.

Charter Conch Outs: If you participated in the D.C. Conchathon or the Grand Bahama Conch Man, you already are first in line. Conchdom has its privileges.

Conch events aren't vacations, they're rewards. You can't sign up for any event unless you're either a participant or coming as a participant's support team. And the best support team is a family or friend.

Island Conch Outs. Our Virgin Island events will include lots of local participants, too, including, I hope, Gov. Alexander A. Farrelly, a Conch Out in spirit already. Gov. Farrelly's office contains an exercise bike, and his favorite outside activity is swimming on St. Croix.

The governor, 62, is a little intimidating when you meet him. All those years in the U.S. Army and as a diplomat at the United Nations have made him very dignified and, at first impression, unapproachable. But as we left Government House (I to enter a Jeep and he to enter a motorcycle-escorted black sedan), a young boy ran up to the governor's car.

"Farrelly!" he yelled.

The governor stopped moving, and turned in the kid's direction, looking grim. And then he smiled and threw the boy a thumbs up. "What's up, man!" he said cheerily. "I'll see you later!"

Gov. Farrelly left with a smile; the kid did, too. I put my Jeep in first gear and turned on Kronprindsens Gade, a 300-year-old town in front of me, mountains to my right and a cobalt-blue sea to my left.

What a way to begin Conch Out 1989