Acker looks likely to stay king


The fittest of the fittest stretched and extended every fiber of their being to achieve one of the most gratifying events in sport – the Olympic triathlon distance.  

The Cayman Islands Triathlon, sponsored by Arch & Godfrey and organized by the Cayman Islands Triathlon Association, was another masterful operation. 

Put together by race director Paul Schreiner and triathlon president Trevor Murphy, it was held last Sunday from the new layout at Public Beach and attracted a strong field of local and international competitors, as well as keen amateurs and plenty of spectators. The Olympic-distance event was again won by Marius Acker, with Johan Heath second for the fourth consecutive time, although they finished behind the two invited pros, Lisa Mensink and Karen Thibodeux,  

Murphy was pleased with how it all turned out. “Overall the event was a huge success and our largest numbers in a few years,” he said. “Even with a thunderstorm that slightly hindered the morning setup, the swim was perfect with the water looking like glass.  

“The bike course saw very wet roads but athletes that have raced our event for a few years now have said it was the best course they’ve been on.  

“The cloudy weather also helped the runners out initially, but the Cayman sun did come out to beat down on the athletes in the final hour or so.” 

Numbers were at their highest in around a decade. He feels the new course layout was ideal for the bike with the new “hill” on the bypass offering something of a climb on each of the four laps.  

The run course was designed around having West Bay Road closed as it had been in the past, but unfortunately the police could not close it this year. Next year the run course will change again due to redevelopment in the area. 

“Marius had another great race. He went two minutes faster than his times in 2011 and 2012,” said Murphy. “Johan had a stellar bike ride which helped give him a lead that he held onto for nearly two laps of the run course.  

“Johan has been getting better and better each year, so it would only be a matter of time before he won it. I’m sure he’ll come back and race the event in the future, but for now he is starting on a new life back in South Africa. The competition between Marius and Johan will be missed.” 

Of the locals, Greg Meaker, JP Hanekom, Dale Avery and Marius Deysel – all South Africans like the first two – need to improve significantly to seriously challenge Acker. Mike Ridsdale and Dean Gaffigan are two of the fastest in Cayman, but they were injured for this event.  

Canadians Mensink and Thibodeux had just raced Ironman Miami 70.3 the previous weekend.  

They also loved the swim and bike course, with Mensink describing the swim course as one of the best she has ever been on.  

“We hope to have them back for Mercuryman in January, and they will always be welcome at next year’s event,” Murphy said. “The new finishing area was a hit also as we had massage tables provided by A Step Ahead Physio, drink and food, then the unique medal design got rave reviews.” 


Marius Acker is also the half-marathon multiple champ. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD


Dean Gaffigan is one of the top local triathletes.


JP Hanekom is a consistent triathlon competitor.