Courtis on pace to claim Stroke and Stride bragging rights

The most popular swimming and running competition in the Cayman Islands is nearing its climax. 

The Cayman Islands Triathlon Association is staging the third and final leg of its annual Stroke and Stride series, sponsored by A Step Ahead Physiotherapy. Sunset House will serve as the venue on Aug. 20 from 5:45 p.m. with competitors tackling an 800-meter swim followed by a 2-mile run through South Sound. A number of athletes are in line to claim bragging rights; chief among them is Matthew Courtis. 

With a confident first week win, crossing the line over two-and-a-half minutes before the next athlete, many were keen to see if Courtis could do it again. He didn’t disappoint in week two, crossing the line in first place last Wednesday – though he was pushed a little harder on the run this time. 

The women’s segment also features a star performer as Jane Hale-Smith showed her strength coming in first for both races. Andrea Roach is hot on her heels, cutting the one-and-a-half minute gap in event one to a mere 30 seconds in race two. The battle between Hale-Smith and Roach will be an exciting one to watch in week three. 

In the team portion of the series, many squads are making the race to the podium interesting. Asians and Indians took first place in race one and second in race two, with Taxaholics winning race two (they didn’t compete in race one). Cajun Hounds are in second place overall by finishing second and third in the previous weeks. 

It should be noted that last week’s race attracted numerous local multi-sport athletes as nearly 150 competitors lined up on the start line. The popularity of the series is a positive for triathlon association members like race director Johann Prinsloo. 

“The association is extremely pleased with the way the first two races have gone so far,” Prinsloo said. “Feedback has been very positive and we look forward to an exciting final race on Wednesday, weather permitting of course.” 

Swim conditions have been tough in the initial races, though Waterman’s have provided excellent assistance in the water, allowing athletes to remain safe and confident. Perseverance was shown by many less experienced swimmers, which was great to see.  

Spectators always enjoy cheering this event, helped by the friendly folk at the bar, and athletes have commended the high level of support. As a result, onlookers like Christine Gibbs of A Step Ahead enjoy the vibe of the series. 

“I love this event and being such a huge part in it,” Gibbs said. “Seeing everyone smiling and enjoying themselves, from the athletes and volunteers to the spectators and Sunset House staff, makes me so proud to help organize and sponsor this great event. Knowing that the proceeds benefit such a worthwhile charity, Cayman HospiceCare, makes it even more rewarding.” 

The Stroke and Stride series features a swim off the Sunset House dock that increases in distance each week and is followed by a 2-mile run down South Church Street. Athletes are awarded points for each race based on their finish and the count is cumulative over the three events. 

Registration is open to everyone for Wednesday’s race. Participants are not required to have competed in the initial races to take part in the finale. Sunset House will be providing post-race food for all athletes and volunteers and there will be a random prize draw. 

Volunteers are always gratefully received by the organizers and the athletes. To volunteer, e-mail [email protected] 

Matthew-Courtis

Matthew Courtis looks set to win. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD

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