Acker strokes home for hat-trick

After three abortive runs at the third and final Ogier Stroke and Stride event, it finally got off the ground and into the water last Wednesday.

Almost a month had elapsed since the second race in the series took place on August 20 and this in combination with increased race distances saw a somewhat reduced field counted into the swim.

Yet even though the participation in the third race could not match the record set by the second race in the series, the 89 competitors still represented a very healthy turnout.

The weight of expectation rested on local swimmer Seiji Groome to lead the field on the swim, as his consistently high swim placings over the previous two events marked him as the favourite.

Groome delivered an imperious display of solo swimming to come in well clear of the rest of the field and hand his team runner Beth Schreader a very handsome lead over the rest of the field.

This had been a concern for Marius Acker, who had crossed the line first in the first two races, as he expected the longer swim to favour a specialist like Groome.

Amber Myrie came out of the water in second position, handing off to her team runner Jana Heath.

Matthew Courtis also put in a very good swim and took off as the first individual competitor.

Acker was fifth out of the water and had left himself a lot of ground to make up on Schreader of Team S and B.

Podium regular Dave Walker had a solid swim as well and exited well clear of Scott Brittain, who set off in hot pursuit in the hope of improving on his two second places earlier in the series.

Among the women, regular competitors Brigitte Tomascik and Sally Rubner came out of the water close together and the chase was on for top spot on the podium.

As the race progressed, it was expected that run specialists like Acker, Walker and Brittain would run down team runners, but this proved easier said than done, as Schreader is no slouch when it comes to a two mile run.

It was sweet revenge for Schreader as she managed to hang on to the lead handed to her by team mate Groome to cross the line first after being run down by Acker in the two previous races of the series.

A charging Acker finished hot on her heels, taking his third individual title in three races.

In a reversal from the previous two races, Walker managed to hold off Brittain to claim second place in the male division, with Brittain rounding out the podium in third a mere twelve seconds behind Walker.

Jasper Mikkelsen came fourth, followed by Courtis, 13, who held up exceptionally well during the run to finish as the fifth individual.

In a surprise performance the first woman home was Sian Harrison who competed in her first race of the series.

She finished a mere three seconds in front of a flying Rubner, with Tomascik rounding out the podium. Ironman competitor Justine Plenkiewicz was the fourth woman home.

Acker was relieved to have won all three races in the series.

‘I am blessed to be racing my favourite series on island after missing the 2007 series due to a rib injury,’ said Acker.

He sustained the injury playing touch rugby, not a mistake he is likely to make again any time soon.

‘This year has been tough with a runner like Scott on the island.

Acker added: ‘I’m glad to have – finally – beaten the Aussie at something, he is so talented. Scott’s swim improved a lot as well as Dave Walker who is returning after a long layoff.’

Acker admits that the swim troubled him, as he followed a different line to the first buoy than Groome and some of the faster swimmers, and was stuck on his own.

‘As the kids bunched together on the far end of the start line, I swam a straight line closest to the iron shore heading for the first buoy.

‘My swimming in this series has been much better than my running, in 2006 my swimming was weak and this year my running was weak due to injury,’ according to Acker, although no one would have noticed as he still dominated the run portion of the race.

Far from being satisfied to take the rest of the year off, Acker and many of the other participants are already setting their sights on the Turtle Tri, on November 23.

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