Mason ends Soria’s winning streak
Erik Soria's three-year winning streak in the Butterfield & Vallis Round the Sound race came to an end yesterday in the Harrington Sound when he was beaten by a youngster half his age in the 10-kilometre race.
Jake Mason, a 15-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee, dominated the field as he proved unstoppable over the 10k course, clocking 2hr 11min 45sec to finish nine minutes and 15 seconds ahead of the defending champion.
It was not as though Mason was an unknown — he won last year's 4k race — and even Soria acknowledged beforehand that he could be one to watch.
He certainly was as he left the field in his wake before crossing the finish line at the Aquarium dock still looking fresh.
“I was a little bit ahead so I tried to push myself throughout the entire race,” Mason said. “I thought I had a chance of winning it. I'm doing the US Junior National Open Water swim in Santa Barbara, California, in April, so I wanted to get some practice in for that.
“Around the 3 or 4k it got really choppy; the waves went up and down the entire time, but besides that it was a beautiful race. They [organisers] did an amazing job with it. I'm pretty excited.
“I took this as an opportunity to try out a long-distance race because I have never gone that far before. I was here last year when he [Soria] won it for the third time in a row and then this year it was in the back of my mind the entire time. I just tried to swim my own race and have fun with it.”
Soria, 38, clocked a time of 2:21:00 to finish well behind the winner and almost a minute ahead of visitor Bob Tarr in third place.
“First, congrats to Mike Cash and Nick Strong for organising the event this year which had a record turnout,” Soria said.
“The talent has definitely increased and the guy who won the 10k today is definitely an up-and-comer in the States, just 15 years old. “After the first 1,000 metres, he was gone. He was just superb all the way around, with his speed and then maintaining it. You can't mess with youth, man. I've been waiting for it.”
Soria, a former US Olympic trialist who lives on the island, added: “It's awesome that the event is starting to draw some big-time talent from the US.
“I'm happy just to still be able to compete and at my age to still be able to contribute to the sport is great.
“I've been coming down to do the Round the Sound race since 2010. It's getting a lot more attention from abroad and that's what Bermuda needs to strive for.
“We've got some of the best open water courses in the world and it is encouraging to see 400-plus people doing the event this year. We got very lucky with the conditions; it was great out there.”
Tarr, of New York, claimed a top-three finish in 2:21:59 while Jacqueline Fasano, also of New York, capped her first visit to Bermuda by winning the women's 10k title, placing fifth overall in a time of 2:30:59. At the last minute she decided to switch from the 4k to the more challenging 10k.
“That was really incredible; it's hard to describe the feeling. It is such an accomplishment,” she said of her win.
“I was signed up for the 4k and decided this morning that I was going to change and do the 10k. Some of my team-mates were doing the 10k and I felt left out! Now I definitely want to come back. It's my first time here and I absolutely love it.”
Visitor Edouard Von Herberstein won the 4k swim in 56:12 with Marissa Dressel second, and first female, in 57:16, more than two minutes ahead of Samuel Wollner who was third in 59:53.
Jack Harvey won the 2k race, completing the course in 25:02 as 15-year-old Warwick Academy pair Taylor White and Tayla Horan placed second and third overall.
White was second just 25 seconds behind Harvey in 25:27 to take the women's title while Horan clocked 26:48 in her third place finish.
“It was nice and calm, a long, hard race, but fun,” added White, who represented Bermuda at the Central American and Caribbean Championships in Barbados this summer. “I feel pretty good but tired.”
In the 800 race, Brandon Adkins, another national team swimmer, led the field in a time of 11:05, with Marleigh Howes, another local teenager, was second in 12:30 and first fame. Her sister, Bella, was ninth overall in the 2k swim.