He may not be a big man in terms of stature but Mark Hydes has the heart of a giant. Just ask any of the competitors in the recent 2006 Cayman Islands Marathon or any member of the Islands’ running fraternity.
Mark was the first marathon finisher in the male category with a time of 3:09:26. He ran seven-minute miles on the 26.1-mile course.
When people think of the Cayman Islands Marathon they think of organisers Kelly Holding, the Cadet Corps, the Mexican water stop, pounding pavement and the indefatigable Mark Hydes.
Hydes started the 5 a.m. race pushing and pushing. He was not thinking about the punishing mileage ahead. He was actually trying to steal the race, and for most of it he was slightly ahead. However, by mile 23 the worst thing that can happen to a long-distance runner – cramps – happened to Hydes. He pushed beyond the pain to finish just three minutes behind winner Julie Stackhouse.
Mark has competed in each of the four Cayman Islands Marathons. He placed second in three of them and seventh in one. However, Mark does more than simply compete; he gets his entire family involved. Last year, his sister Gerry Robinson ran her very first marathon and this year Gerry and another brother, Timmy Hydes, participated in the half marathon. Their sister Juana took care of the entire family’s hydration needs.
Looking back, Mark did not have a stellar track history during his high school days. In fact, he didn’t start to run until he was 24 years old, and that was only to get fit. He cites local distance runners Malcolm Davis and Roger Davies as his inspiration.
‘The first event I participated in was a two-mile race, the Compass Fun Run,’ said Hydes. ‘I set a goal of coming in the top 10 and placed 10th overall.’
After that he was bitten by the running bug.
‘I love to compete. The training helps to prepare you, to toughen you up mentally. Running helps me clear my mind. Each footstep allows one more problem to fall away, and when I finish I have a great feeling,’ Mark explained.
Mark has built up quite an international reputation over the past 15 years. He has competed in the Caribbean Cross-Country Championship three times, the Island Games, the World Half Marathon and the 24-Hour Relay Race but his favourite race is the Cayman Islands Marathon. In fact, it is the only marathon in which he has ever competed.
‘I competed in the first Cayman Islands Marathon because it was home. I run in it every year because I want to inspire more people to run. The event is well organised and is growing every year. It is truly an international event.’
‘Mark is a fixture at the Cayman Islands Marathon, and we look forward every year to seeing him run,’ said Rhonda Kelly of Kelly Holding Ltd., organisers of the Marathon. ‘Every year he waits until the very last minute to register which always causes a bit of anxiety as to whether he’s actually going to participate but in the end he is always there on race day not only to support us, but to also make Cayman proud. It’s because of people like Mark Hydes that we do this event. He is an inspiration and embodies the spirit of a true sportsman.’
The Cayman Islands Marathon was sponsored by Digicel; Cayman Islands Department of Tourism; Deloitte; Cayman National; Breezes By The Bay Restaurant (Official Marathon Party Zone); 106.1 KISS FM (Official Radio Station); Cayman Airways; Flowers Bottled Water (Official Water); Gatorade (Official Sports Drink); Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort (Official Hotel); TAG Heuer; Final Touch; Butterfield Bank; Audi, CUC; RE/MAX Cayman Islands; Generali; Admiral; KPMG; Red Sail Sports; Island Companies and Pepsi.
For results, photos and 2007 online registration, log on to www.CaymanIslandsMarathon.com