In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings the next local road event will have a sombre air.
The Genesis Trust 2013 Cayman Islands Duathlon is Sunday from 7am at Grand Harbour.
Organised by the Cayman Islands Triathlon Association and sponsored by Genesis Trust, it is a two-mile run followed by a 12-mile cycle and then another two-mile run.
Marius Acker is the undisputed duathlon champ, having won it in 2008, 2011 and last year and half the team winners in 2007 and 2010. He was injured in 2009.
Normally the 41-year-old South African would be strong favourite again, but injury has curtailed his preparations.
“I fractured a bone in my left foot in February, so I was not able to run for the last eight weeks,” Acker said. “I’ve only run four times since I broke my foot and the third one was the Tower Run 5K on Saturday, where I placed second to Jason Saunders.
“I am icing my foot after running since I started again last week and I’m monitoring the recovery,” he added. “It is important not to put too much stress on the recovering foot.”
Acker only decided to do the duathlon last Tuesday.
“As a triathlete, I was fortunate that I was able to swim and cycle to retain some fitness – and sanity,” he said. “Not being able to run was very, very frustrating and to not be able to train at all would be torture.”
The injury, though, gave him a renewed appreciation of what a privilege it is to be able to run so he entered the Chicago Marathon in October.
There is no doubt in Acker’s mind who is going to be his strongest challenger.
“Johan Heath will be breathing down my neck,” he said. “Last year, the difference between us was only 64 seconds where I passed him in the second run.
“I am not sure how recent fatherhood affected his training schedule, but I would think that it should be an added inspiration for him,” Acker said.
Last year’s female champion was Pam Abbott and if she enters, Acker expects Gill Comins to be her biggest rival.
“Gill was only 30 seconds behind Pam last year,” Acker said. “Julie-Ann Pearson is a previous duathlon winner and will also be in the mix.”
David Shibli and Steve Abbott took honours last year, but this time Abott has teamed up with Dave Walker and they are the pre-race favourites. Saunders is also teaming up with a cyclist, so it will be a big fight for team honours.
Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings has been the main topic of conversation among the weekend warriors.
“I was alerted within 10 minutes of it happening and the local sports community was in shock and disbelief,” Acker said. “Within 90 minutes of the tragedy we were able to confirm that the three Cayman entrants and their partners were safe.
“There are more than 30 local athletes who entered for Chicago and I hope that the bombings will not deter them from running this event,” he said. “I will definitely be going to Chicago.”