More than 50 athletes battled rough seas and high winds Sunday morning to compete in the Mercuryman half-Ironman Triathlon in East End.
Three professional triathlon athletes came to Cayman to participate in the swim-bike-run event, all finishing the distance race in under five hours.
“It was awesome but it was hot,” race director Trevor Murphy said.
The half-Ironman race started with a 1.2 mile swim, then a 56-mile bicycle leg, and finally a 13.1-mile run. Rachel Joyce, a professional British triathlete, came in first, finishing in 4 hours, 34 minutes and 13 seconds.
Marius Acker, one of Cayman’s top athletes who took fifth place last year, finished second Sunday in 4:41:47. That’s six minutes faster than Acker’s time for this event last year. Jeffrey Jakubiak came in third in 4:42:46. Last year he placed seventh.
Murphy noted that even the professionals said the 1.2 mile swim was hard, with stronger than usual currents in the first leg of the race. For the swim, he said, participants had to go straight into the current from the Wyndham Reef Resort to past Morritt’s. “But at the turnaround they flew back,” he noted.
“It was a different type of swim for our local athletes,” Murphy said, and a far cry from training in the normally calm waters off Seven Mile Beach.
Proceeds from the fourth-annual Mercuryman went to Stroke Warriors of Cayman and East End Primary School. The school received $2,000. As of press time Tuesday, organizers were still tallying up the donation for Stroke Warriors.
“The kids from East End Primary were amazing,” Murphy said. They staffed an aid station to hand out water and cheer on the racers.
Once free from the hard currents in the swim, participants hopped on their bikes to contend with winds from the south of up to 20 miles an hour. Normally, the race director said, cyclists have crosswinds on East End, but the weather over the weekend meant people were riding and running straight into the wind for half of it. But at least they had the wind at their back for the other half.
The Mercuryman race had fewer competitors than last year. Murphy said the drop in participation was because race organizers did not finalize the deals to bring professional athletes to Cayman until a few weeks ago.
The group is also considering reducing the registration price to attract new competitors to the sport next year. “We’ve been building every year,” Murphy said, and the group has already started planning for next year’s half-Ironman triathlon.