Dashing Thru The Sand- it’s fast becoming a Cayman Christmas catch phrase.
The annual Boxing Day activity is proving to be a favorite event with both visitors and residents.
This year’s edition, sponsored once again by QUIN & HAMPSON, attracted more than 170 participants, ranging in age from 3 to 92, and demonstrated that family fun is available each year on this occasion. In addition to residents, the enthusiastic group included persons hailing from 21 U.S. states, four Canadian provinces, as well as holidaymakers from England and South Africa.
Organized as usual by the PHOENIX ATHLETIC CLUB, with a lot of other assistance, hilarity reigns among the walkers and recreationally-inclined runners. But competitive attitudes are evident, although in a friendly fashion among some of the outstanding talent which appears at the starting line near Hemingway’s Restaurant, where the winding column of dashers begins to wend its way along Seven Mile Beach toward the finish point and the eagerly-anticipated breakfast on the beach at COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT.
The scenario could not have been scripted any better, as overall male and female runners first across the finish line were Chris and Ashley Estwanik, who have gained considerable recognition in their careers for their achievements on the international running scene. They were married in July, and were members of the Nike Farm Team running group in California. Chris, who has visited the Cayman Islands almost every Christmas since he was a youngster, has bettered four minutes in the mile several times, and Ashley holds national records in the middle distance events for Bermuda.
Chris clocked 9:01 for the approximately one and one-half mile distance, with Ashley’s 10:41 mark placing her fourth overall. Sandwiched between these two were their last year’s training partners, residents Marius Acker, in a time of 9:22, and David Walker, coming in at 10:24.
As Chris and Ashley were automatically disqualified from accepting prizes under the Bill Estwanik mandate-no member of the family is eligible for performance awards at this event- Marius and David each moved up one spot. Bill Estwanik donates the prizes for first place finishers, and therefore is allowed to make such pronouncements.
Under the same dictum, Gill Comins, closely accompanied by her faithful reindog, Hobnob, was credited officially with first place for the ladies at 12:44, with Lizzy Haines accorded runnerup honours in 13:07.
Jason Schmidt and Patricia McCallum also turned in noteworthy performances.
Youngest finishers were 3-year-old Chloe Wengard of Kirkland, Washington, and Christopher Touhey, 4 years old, of Grand Cayman.At the other end of the spectrum were 75-year-old Donald Sliwicki of Sebring, Florida, and the extremely fit Juanita Wheaton-Tully,at 92 years of age, from Vancouver, Canada.
An intense battle was staged for final position by resident Linda Appelqvist and David Ogle of South Carolina for that dubious distinction. Several minutes of Alphonse and Gaston action took place before they were informed that they would each receive recognition, whereupon Linda deigned to complete the course, followed immediately by David. Definitely not your typical sprint to the finish.
Random awards were plentifully distributed, with special mention to the utilization of the products of local companies Island Glassblowing Studio, Cayman Taffy Company, and CayPuzzles.
All finishers received calendars compliments of Cayman National Bank,as well as souvenirs from Progressive Distributors. In addition, Cobalt Coast donated a gift certificate, and a number of LIVE IN PEACE calendars were presented.
Such has been the impact of this event over the years that arriving visitors are now requesting entry forms from organizers before leaving the airport for their accommodations, and others, unable to obtain flights in time for participation, are reserving event shirts, designed by JOHN BROAD, prior to their arrival.
Repeat performers take pride in displaying shirts from previous years as they undertake the current challenge.