The A Step Ahead Physiotherapy Stroke and Stride series looked certain to have a new champion because Marius Acker, three times winner, missed the first of the three-race event.
But even though Matthew Courtis demolished the field in the first race, the talented teenager never returned and Acker was crowned king again at Sunset House last Wednesday.
Presumably, Courtis returned to full-time education in the United Kingdom. That left the way clear for Jon Roney if he could build up enough points in the three races to stay ahead of Acker and Johan Heath, another top athlete who was only competing in two.
All the two-leg races consisted of a swim and a two-mile run from Sunset House. The first week the swim was 400 meters, then 600 meters and finally 800 meters.
In this race, Acker was behind after the swim but was able to overtake Heath on the run, as he usually does. Roney had the satisfaction of splitting them to take second place.
Race 3 of the Stroke and Stride series concluded with overall series victories for Acker, Jody McFarland in the women’s category and Team Tassie of Michael O’Connor and Shaun Green. Chris Sutton took the masters title.
There were 142 individuals and 28 teams in the series. Familiar faces like Richard Harrison, Scott Ruby, Paul Schreiner and Ben White competed in all three and it was encouraging for the female triathlon scene to see youngsters like Kia Macfee and Luzaan Leeb in action.
A relieved Acker said: “Roney could have won this title had he finished in the top four today. He finished fifth.
“Winning this title was unexpected. I injured my calf in this race last week and today it was untested but it was fine.
“I just stayed with Johan on the swim and on the run I took it easy at the beginning to see how I was feeling and when I realized the leg was OK, that’s when I went.”
The 42-year-old South African runs the Chicago Marathon in a month’s time and hopes to be in tip-top shape for that.
“This is a good warm-up for the guys doing the Cayman Triathlon on Nov. 3,” said Acker, who normally defends his triathlon title and wins the Cayman half-marathon a month later.
“This is the best the race has ever been organized. It was not the best race. I would have preferred to have Matthew Courtis here. Next year, hopefully.”
McFarland said: “It’s surprising to be champion. There are normally faster people and I’m not used to shorter distances.
“I thought Andrea Roach was going to beat me because she is a faster swimmer and it was the longest swim today.
“I had to catch her on the run, which I did on the turnaround. I was still scared she was going to catch me though and kept looking behind all the time thinking she was right on my heels.”
The organization was excellent, McFarland said. “I’m so impressed with it, there’s a lot more people here than I thought there would be. It’s just been really smooth and a lot of fun.”
McFarland also had the satisfaction of beating her husband Bill, aka “Tarzan,” by 40 seconds. “I was worried about him, too,” she said. “He’s not normally running. Now that he’s running I know he wants to beat me!”
She is preparing to run the Cayman Marathon on Dec. 1 and improve on her personal best of four hours, eight minutes.
“I’m going to try to break four hours, so fingers crossed I will do it,” McFarland said.
Trevor Murphy, president of the Cayman Islands Triathlon Association, said: “Thanks to our sponsor A Step Ahead Physiotherapy and Christine Gibbs who was race director.
“For those who took advantage of ASAP’s physiotherapists post race, thank you to the massagers for helping sore muscles.
“And for those who needed the help of the bar post race, many thanks to Sunset House.”