More than half of the runners participating in the Cayman Islands Marathon on Sunday, 2 December will be travelling from overseas to run the race, an indication that the event is slowly gaining international recognition as a fun, well-organised and easy race, attracting both veteran and novice athletes.
Local athletes will be mingling with runners from Canada, the UK and places in the USA such as New York, New Jersey, Nebraska, Idaho, Pennsylvania and Arizona, many of whom are visiting the Cayman Islands for the first time.
‘We are so excited about the overseas runners who are joining us this year,’ said Rhonda Kelly of Kelly Holding Ltd., organiser of the Marathon. ‘Every year we have the opportunity to showcase the warmth and hospitality of the Cayman Islands to our runners, and we do not take that responsibility lightly. Our goal is to make sure that each runner comes back again to experience both the island and the race, and I am happy to say that we will have a number of repeat runners this year.’
Kelly attributes the continued increase in international runners to the positive feedback from past runners and the curiousity that runners have about the Cayman Islands.
‘Many of them have always wanted to visit Cayman and so they use the Marathon as an opportunity to vacation, and they bring their family and friends with them. The location practically markets the event for us!’
This was definitely the case for Suzi Melotti of Boston, Massachusetts who will be travelling to Cayman with four of her closest girlfriends to run the half-marathon and celebrate her 30th birthday.
‘I have always liked the idea of doing a ‘destination’ race, and I was determined to find one to do on or around my 30th birthday, which is on December 8th,’ explained Melotti. ‘I looked around on the internet, and this race was the best fit, much more suitable than the Lazarote and Lisbon races, which are around the same time. Living in Boston, Cayman is relatively easy and affordable to fly to, and of course the weather and beaches make it a big draw. The fact that the island is really flat also makes it very appealing for running.’
Gene Bachman of Virginia Beach, Virginia knows all about the flatness of the terrain in Cayman. The 54 year old participated in the 2006 Butterfield Bank International Triathlon and enjoyed the experience so much that he is coming back to do it again, and decided he would run the Cayman Islands Marathon while he was in the neighbourhood.
‘The Butterfield Triathlon is the weekend before the Marathon so I’ll just stay an additional three days and run the marathon,’ said Bachman. ‘In terms of goals for the long run, I don’t have any in mind. It would be nice to use the time to qualify for the Boston Marathon but it’s not a necessity.’
The Cayman Islands Marathon is certified by the Association of International Marathons & Distance Races (AIMS) and is a qualifier race for the prestigious Boston Marathon.
Melotti says that she and her friends have not set any goals for the race either, and are interested to see how, with just a few days to acclimatize, they will react to the heat and humidity in Cayman.
‘I have a best time of about 1 hour and 56 minutes, so if I could finish around that time, I’d be very pleased but I’m mostly coming for fun. It’s the whole experience, going away with friends, and celebrating my birthday with a run.
Debbie Saint of West Sussex, England is the perfect example of the visitor who will combine the race with a vacation, and in this instance a family reunion. The veteran marathoner will use her trip to Cayman to experience a new race and visit her sister who lives on the island.
‘My sister lives in George Town and told me about the Cayman Islands Marathon last year, as some of her friends ran the half marathon. I decided that this was the challenge for me this year whilst combining it with a holiday,’ explained Saint. ‘I am running the Beachy Head Marathon (South of England) on 27th October so should be fighting fit for the Cayman Marathon!’
Saint’s game plan for the race is pretty simple. ‘My first main goal will be to make sure I enjoy the run. I am hopefully running the London Marathon again next year for the 10th time and will be aiming for a time of 3 hours 44 minutes on that course. I anticipate being slower than this in the Cayman Islands due to not being used to the heat, so maybe a time of 4 hours 10 minutes would be nice. No pressure! Soon come! Maybe I will run on Cayman time!’ she joked.
Online registration for the Cayman Islands Marathon, half-marathon and four-person relay is available at CaymanIslandsMarathon.com. Participants can also do walk-in registration at the Kelly Holding office. For more information log on to CaymanIslandsMarathon.com, email [email protected] or call Sue Greene on 946.8822.
The Cayman Islands Marathon is sponsored by Digicel, Department of Tourism, Flowers Bottled Water, Progressive Distributors/Gatorade, Deloitte, Cayman National, 106.1 KISS FM, Cayman Airways, Cayman Free Press, Kirk Freeport, Sagicor, Breezes By the Bay Restaurant, BioFreeze/RVC Rehab Services, Grand Cayman Marriott Resort, Island Companies, RE/MAX Cayman Islands, Audi, ESSO, Red Sail Sports, Royal Bank of Canada, CUC and The Final Touch.