The popular A Step Ahead Physiotherapy Stroke and Stride series, organized by the Cayman Islands Triathlon Association, begins next week.
This year’s event promises to be bigger and more accurately timed. For the first time, athletes will have timing chips, and will receive accurate swim/run splits shortly after each event.
Last year’s men’s champion Matthew Courtis is certain to face a strong challenge during all three events with the likes of Marius Acker and Darrel “DJ” Evans confirmed to compete.
Jane Hale-Smith will not be able to attend all three events this year, which means a new female champion will be crowned.
All races begin and end at Sunset House on South Church Street and start punctually at 5:45 p.m. on Aug. 5, 12 and 19.
The swim distance progresses from 400 meters to 600m and finally 800m, whereas the running distance, a looped course down South Church Street, remains at 2 miles. The series is open to all ages and abilities and is a great opportunity for those with a competitive edge or anyone just looking to have fun and get some exercise.
Teams are also welcome to enter. Last year, a record number of 144 individuals and 18 teams took part, and the organizers are expecting an increase this time.
“We are excited to raise the standard of this year’s ASAP Stroke and Stride series to another level through the introduction of Race Caribbean timing chips, made possible by new sponsor Dinner Martin Attorneys,” said Johann Prinsloo, the triathlon association’s race director.
This will help solidify Stroke and Stride’s status of one of CITA’s flagship events.
It raised $3,900 last year for Cayman HospiceCare, and, as the charity is also the beneficiary this year, organizers hope to raise more than $4,000.
Race sponsor Christine Gibbs, owner of ASAP said, “It was such an honor to raise money for such a worthwhile cause which offers such invaluable services to the people of Cayman. Hopefully, with increased numbers expected this year, we can generate even more money for this charity.”
Acker has won Stroke and Stride numerous times in the past decade, either individually or in a team.
Last year he had to work in Europe and missed defending his title. “If no work travel comes up on short notice, I should be able to do all three races,” he said.
He acknowledges that regaining the Stroke and Stride title will be “a stiff challenge, but nothing is impossible.”
This is Acker’s favorite multi-discipline event of the year. If newcomer Ben Creasey enters, he should make the podium too. He is just back from the Island Games, competing for Guernsey where he came 26th in the individual race and won a silver medal in the team event.
The first event favors the stronger runners and this is where a close finish is likely, with Creasey and Acker being strong runners. The third event will benefit the stronger swimmers, like Courtis.
The time spent in transition putting on shoes could determine the outcome of the first race, while the last two events could possibly be decided by whoever comes out of the water first.
Courtis, in past years, opened up an unassailable lead in the last of the three events because of the long swim.
“Not even Superman would have been able to run him down,” joked Acker. “Hopefully, we won’t have any tropical storms in the mix to mess with the scheduling of the races as this could also potentially impact who wins, due to possible travel arrangements of the competitors,” said Acker. “If you don’t do all three events, you won’t have a chance of winning the series.”
Hale-Smith will be away for one of the races so there will be a new female champion. Andrea Roach is a likely candidate if she competes in all three events. Gill Comins, Helki Weber, Jody McFarland and Michelle Bailey, if they enter, will be contenders too.
The Flashy Nation Sports Club members have all been working on their swim discipline and will definitely improve on previous times. They include Kendall Ebanks, Samuel Young and Marlon Crowe Jr.
Team Asian and Indians – Lauren Hew and Will Edwards – took the final event win as well as the overall event team title last year.
“This series is ideal to kick off training for the triathlon that is 12 weeks away,” added Acker. “It’s also a great event to team up with someone else who is better than yourself in one of the disciplines.
“There is a lot of interest already in this year’s event and I think we might see a record entry.”
As with last year’s event, ASAP will be offering all athletes mini-treatments after each race. Sunset House, the venue host again, will provide the post-event party with food for all athletes and for volunteers after the third race.
There is also a raffle following completion of the final race. The cost is $15 per race or $35 for the series for individual participants and $25 per race/$60 for the series for teams.
“We are looking forward to seeing all our familiar athletes as well as welcoming new people to the sport next week, CITA spokesman Matthew Volkwyn said.
A Step Ahead Physiotherapy is sponsoring this event for the third year.
“We’re thrilled to be involved with CITA again in organizing the Stroke and Stride series,” Gibbs said. “It’s not only a great race for the competitive athletes, but also a fun evening for all recreational athletes.”
Online registration is open on www.triathlon.ky/stroke-and-stride or www.caymanactive.com. Registration is also available at Sunset House on Aug. 4 from 5 to 7 p.m. For those who want to volunteer as marshals to help ensure athletes’ safety in the event, contact [email protected]