Tis almost the season of festive cheer and goodwill to all and as Christmas approaches the sporting fraternity is about to start winding down to recharge its batteries and overload on those naughty carbs.
We’ve just had the Turtle Triathlon and on Sunday many of that super fit bunch put themselves through the pain barrier again for the Cayman Islands Marathon. Twenty-six miles of torture starting and finishing at Breezes By The Bay with the half-way point at the junction of Prospect Point and Shamrock Road. Half marathoners will be running too and there’s also a kids fun run. Watch out for Jim Fraser – swimmer Shaun’s dad – who is raising at least $40,000 for charity.
This year’s outstanding favourite is Scott Brittain, the 31-year-old Aussie who has been blazing a trail in recent races. Brittain was part of the mixed team winners in the Turtle Triathlon on Sunday. His team-mates were Summer Flowers who swam the 1,500 metres leg and was first woman out, followed by Gary Clarke who cycled like a maniac for 40k before Brittain took over to run the 10k in an impressive time. They were actually the second Olympic team home. The winning team comprised of Matthew Courtis, the 12-year-old swimming sensation, Jerome Ameline and Russell Coleman. They won by a big margin as all three are really strong in their disciplines.
Brittain’s best marathon is 2 hours 31 minutes, a remarkable time for a casual runner. It came in July in the Gold Coast Marathon in his homeland. Anything faster than 2.20 is world class. He is not in that sort of form but is confident he can beat the Cayman record of 2.53.
Brittain confirmed his ability by finishing just behind triathlon winner Spencer Smith in the run. Smith is the legendary pro who was triple world champion in the Nineties and is still a world class competitor.
A little more distance and might he have caught Smith? ‘Possibly but I think he might have been taking it a little bit easier. And if I had caught him he might have had another gear anyway. We’ll never know.
‘I was monitoring the gap between us on the way back. I thought coming from the UK he might not be used to this heat. I was reducing at every vantage point but I needed a couple more hundred metres to catch him – but he might have lifted as well.’
Brittain ran 34 minutes 3 seconds. It was almost five minutes faster than the previous week when he won the Pirates Week 10k in just under 39 minutes. ‘Last week was more a training run, today was more serious. I couldn’t let the team down. We thought we had a good chance because Summer is a good swimmer. She was first female out of the water so really laid the foundation for a great team effort, then Gary got on his bike and he was really pleased with his time, riding a personal best, so I think all three of us have done really well today.’
The loneliness of a long distance runner is a cliché but if Brittain has company after the half way stage he will be pleased. ‘It will be nice to have some company. It’s a long way to run by your self but at least there will be people there for the first half. Who knows, there might be some good runners turn up from overseas.’
He feels he is in 2.45 shape. ‘I’m going to aim to run at 2.50 pace. Hopefully, that will be fast enough to break the record.’
Ameline is not in the marathon but he hopes to do a duathlon in March. That’s a two-mile run, 12 mile cycle followed by another two-mile run. The 32-year-old Frenchman was pleased with his performance in the triathlon for which he’d been training for six months.
‘I focused on this race because it was the biggest one of the year and best attended. So if I wanted to do a good time and let people know about it, this was the one to do it. The last few races before, like the Kiwanis bikeathon was more tactical rather than being strong and Gary Clarke was more clever than us and won at the finish. But a time trial, you can’t hide. You’re either strong or not.’
Ameline runs Revolutions Indoor Cycling at the Barnett Music Centre, beside the Red Cross. That’s where he did a lot of his training to come home in 55 minutes 16 seconds, 61 seconds faster than Smith. ‘I’m so happy to have beaten him because he’s been part of a pro cycling team as well as being a triple world champion. So obviously, he’s no joke. ‘We met the day before and kind of gave a challenge. At one point I did not think I was going to follow him. But I caught him up and passed him. Yes, he did have a long swim before and had to save himself a bit for the run but you could say he did have a good warm up before the cycling.
‘Anyway, when you swim you use your arms, not your legs. Being a professional guy he should at least have followed me. So I’m happy that I beat my own record by 1 min 37 secs.’
Ameline is pleased with the way Revolutions has picked up in the short time he’s been running it. ‘We also have spinning classes there, 13 per week. It’s a good way to get in shape, race competitively or lose weight. All your objectives can be met by training there.’