The A Step Ahead Physiotherapy Stroke and Stride series concludes with the third and final race on Wednesday and reigning champion Matthew Courtis looks set to retain his title.
The swim leg of the event at Sunset House is extended from 600 meters to 800m this time and as Courtis is the most accomplished swimmer, he only has to maintain form to remain champ.
Ben Creasey and Marius Acker are better runners than the 20-year-old Barbadian but considering Courtis is in training to represent Barbados in swimming at next year’s Olympics, there is no doubt who is superior in the water. Creasey, an international triathlete for Guernsey, won the first week’s event and Courtis was second with Acker third.
Courtis is expected to build up a long enough lead from the swim so that on the 2-mile run along South Church Street he will not have to extend himself too much. Last week the swim started in choppy seas and first out of the water was Christopher Courtis, Matthew’s brother, who teamed up with their dad Tim who did the run leg.
Matthew and team swimmers followed, then Acker exited the water 14 seconds ahead of Creasey.
Creasey knew he had to catch Courtis to have a chance of winning the series as a second victory would have secured Creasey the title with one race to go.
Creasey caught Acker around the 700m mark and flew past the South African veteran as he did in the first week.
Acker remained undaunted and knew he could improve on his run split from week one. He did not train the day before, this time, to remain fresher.
Creasey opened a gap of about 20m on Acker who doggedly prevented it getting any wider.
Acker managed to close the gap just before Smith Cove on the return leg as Creasey increased the pace.
“I stuck with Ben and eventually managed to overtake him and I was delighted to finish 19 seconds ahead of him,” Acker said.
“I achieved my objective of running a better run split than the first week and ran 45 seconds quicker for the same distance.”
Acker’s run time of 11 minutes, 27 seconds was five seconds faster than Creasey’s. “This was not the first time I outran Ben,” Acker said. “I also outran him on the same distance in the first leg of the duathlon earlier this year.”
Acker added, “It was very satisfying to finish second after being written off by a lot of the local triathlon community after the previous week’s third place finish.” He said that it was the hardest Stroke and Stride he has raced in Cayman by far.
Matthew Courtis only needs a third place finish to retain his title on Wednesday. Only injury or illness will prevent him from doing so as the next swim is about three minutes longer so his gap on Creasey and Acker is likely to increase.
Acker added that the first person he passed on his run was Matthew’s mom, Caroline, who competed in a team.
“Her team swimmer is quick,” said Acker. “The whole Courtis family participated in the event and that is a great example for other families in Cayman.”
The Stroke and Stride attracts athletes of all abilities, exemplified by the participation of friends Maria Kharitidi and Marion Jones who finished in 55 minutes, 10 minutes slower than the previous finishers. They will be out there again this week, cheered on by spectators and volunteers, some of whom work at Cayman HospiceCare, the charity to which money raised in the event will be donated.