Local charity benefits from Ogier

The recently completed Ogier Stroke and Stride series was a great success once again.

Fortunately for the organisers, the weather played along this year, unlike the previous edition of the series when the final event had to be postponed multiple times due to unfavourable weather conditions.

With around participation numbers across the three events remaining stable around the 120 mark, it was a very impressive turnout, with participants taking up the challenge as individual athletes or in teams of two.

The swim distances steadily increased from 400m in the first event to 800m in the third event, while the run distance remained stable at two miles across all three events.

It would have been expected that the stronger swimmers would emerge as stronger challengers as the swim distances increased.

However, with most of the top competitors being quite complete athletes, the top of the leader board remained remarkably stable throughout the series.

First overall in all the races was the team of swimmer Jasper Mikkelsen and runner Dave Walker, an unusual combination in the eyes of many competitors as both athletes probably have the potential to finish on the individual podium as well.

Cool Runnings, composed of swimmer Seiji Groome and runner Beth Schreader claimed second in the first two races, but Schreader’s absence from the third race left the door open for Cajun Hound Racing, composed of swimmer Andrew Smiley and runner Bill Edwards, to move up from third in the first two races to second in the final.

In the individual men’s division, Marius Acker showed total dominance as well, leaving the water among the leaders every time. Known primarily for his running speed, Acker would never be threatened on the run, and managed clear wins in his division every time.

More amazing is the fact that second and third place went to the same athletes in each of the races as well, with Johan Heath and Dean Gaffigan never dropping back, but never able to challenge Acker either.

In the individual women’s division, Lizzie Haines followed a similar formula to Acker, establishing her dominance in the swim and then holding off all comers with a powerful run.

Although Haines dominated the series from start to finish, there were some changes lower down on the leader board.

Marlene West claimed second in the first race, but did not participate in the rest of the series due to other sporting commitments, which left the way open for Emily Davies to move up to second.

Annelle Rabie also benefitted from West’s absence, moving up from fourth to third.

As important as the participants are to the success of an event, any such event relies very heavily on the involvement of volunteers and sponsors to keep it running smoothly.

The event has been part of the Cayman Islands Triathlon Association’s annual calendar for the past 11 years, but this is only the second year that Ogier has been involved as primary sponsor.

According to Jayne Aiken, business development and marketing manager with Ogier, the sponsorship of the event forms part of the company’s corporate responsibility programme.

‘In 2008 we decided to revamp the current programme to make it more closely aligned with the views and wishes of our employees, as we believe that a programme will work much better when its staff is behind it,’ she said.

In order to improve staff involvement, the company surveyed employees on the charitable work they were involved in, as well as sports and recreational activities they were involved in outside of work.

‘The sports part of the survey overwhelmingly showed that the majority of staff who participated in sports, were interested in running and swimming, hence the decision to sponsor the Stroke and Stride,’ says Aiken.

As the project forms an important part of Ogier’s community involvement, the decision was taken not to let it stand in isolation.

‘We decided to tie it in to one of our charitable committees too and so the charity challenge was born whereby we encouraged participants to collect pledges for a local charity.

‘This year the Child and Family Welfare committee decided to put the monies raised towards the NCVO’s Nadine Andreas Foster Home so that they can purchase educational books and CDs to supplement their homework and after school programme,’ according to Aiken.

With part of the entry fees from the event also going to the charity, participants could feel they were suffering for a good cause and helping others.

Photos of the event can be viewed at caycompass.com/photogallery and ordered from the Caymanian Compass.