Marius Acker has lost track of how many times he’s won the Stroke and Stride.
Acker, the fastest male finisher in this year’s race, said that he first won the event 12 years ago. He’s been injured in two of the last four years and he’s also won the race twice in that span.
“This is my favourite multi-sport event on the island,” said Acker. “I wasn’t the favourite this year because I didn’t do it last year. And Jason Trautman is 20 years younger than me.”
Acker, who will turn 48 later this week, won two of the three Stroke and Stride races, including Wednesday’s finale, but he said that Trautman was hot on his heels for most of it. Even after winning the first event by 15 seconds, Acker knew he had to account for Trautman’s performance.
“Going into the second race, I was thinking, ‘The swim is longer and I’m a better swimmer than Jason,’” he said. “I was expecting to have a bigger gap, but I had the same exact gap I had the previous week. Jason ran me down and we basically duelled for the last mile to the finish line. Jason won the second week by six seconds. We went into yesterday and both of us were very nervous before the race.”
Acker estimates that he’s now won about seven times. Beating Trautman, though, required
not just physical fitness but also mental conditioning.
Acker said he made a few minor changes, such as exiting the water via a different ladder.
“About halfway through the run, I looked around and saw that Jason was pretty close,” he said. “I had the pace. I was looking at my watch thinking, ‘If I can maintain this pace, then I should be safe.’ I was still thinking he had a chance halfway, but he never caught up. I ended up winning by about 45 seconds.”
Trautman finished second overall in the first and third legs of the cycle and won the second leg to finish second overall. The third-place finisher, Victor Magalhaes, was competing in the event for the first time. The women’s winner, Kyra Rabess, won all three legs of the Stroke and Stride. Second-place finisher Laura Hicks finished second in the first leg and third in the next two legs to cement her final standing.
The Special Needs Foundation Cayman was the top male team, and Ogier Team 1 was the top female team. Timon & Pumbaa Quinn and Murray was the fastest mixed team in the event.
“We had an extremely successful 2019 series which has been thoroughly enjoyed by all,” said race director Johann Prinsloo. “It was great to see such a variety of athletes participating in large numbers. Congratulations to all our winners, from the very experienced generation, to exciting young athletes making their mark!”
Acker said the turnout seemed to be slightly higher than last year, and he said the organisation of the race was greatly improved. He added that Trautman, like Acker a native of South Africa, is shaping into an impressive competitor and a name to watch on the endurance race circuit in Cayman.
“I knew it was going to be competitive, but Jason really improved tremendously from last year. I don’t know what he’s doing, but it’s really working for him,” said Acker of his compatriot.
“That’s my favourite race of the whole year. If I don’t have to do any more, I’ll be happy.”