Marathon was not just about glory

The Cayman Islands Marathon was another resounding success and as with all runs of that daunting distance of 26.2 miles, some great characters were there.


Fraser raised $40,000 for Lighthouse School.
Photo: Ron Shillingford

One of them was New Yorker Chris Solarz who came third behind winner Scott Brittain and Eduardo Torres. Solarz is only 29 but this was his 121st marathon. He works in finance and sets his annual holiday time around marathons. Considering the London Marathon is one of the world’s biggest, Solarz has yet to run it although he has run his own city’s six times.

‘I did my first one when I was 18 and was pretty ‘normal’ for the first four years, doing one or two. Then I moved to Australia and got the bug there. I used it as a way to travel around. Without even training I did 20 marathons in one year, in 2000.’

His Aussie runs included Perth, Alice Springs and Auckland. A natural runner, he found that marathons are not just a great way to keep fit and travel but to also meet people with wife Bea.

How does his body, especially knees take all that pounding? ‘My knees are good! My wife Bea is a radiologist and she checked them out. I’m alright, she said they look great.’

The heat and humidity of Cayman made it an exceptionally difficult run. ‘Cayman was tough, it was so hot.’ He still managed close to his personal best, coming in at 3 hours 11 minutes and 45 seconds, which was only two minutes outside his record.

‘I really enjoyed it. The people were very supportive, especially at the Mexican water station. They had so much energy. Real characters. They were fun. It’s a tough race out there. A little deceiving because it’s really flat, on a nice day but it kind of creeps up on you.’

A sucker for punishment, Solarz enjoys triathlons too and may do next year’s here. When he heard that former triple world champion Spencer Smith won the triathlon last week in a course record of 1 hour 56 minutes, a full 10 minutes ahead of the second place, Solarz quipped: ‘Spencer’s lucky I didn’t come!’

Bea had never run a marathon before she met Chris. She’s up to seven now. ‘If he loves it then I agree with it. I’ve done all my seven with him. He tones it down and runs at my pace. My best time is 4 hrs 40 mins. Actually, it’s good because we work long hours so it’s a nice way of spending five hours together and chatting. He’s taught me so much about marathons, like toe nails falling off and bloody nipples and all of this marathon lingo. It took a bit of convincing at first, now I can’t believe that not everyone runs it.’

Solarz’s consistency is impressive but compared to Andrew Kotulski from New Jersey he is just a novice. Kotulski ran his 591st marathon on Sunday, a total of over 15,000 miles.

Richard Singer ran each mile in honour of someone. His first was for a friend and her daughter who are disabled. His last mile was for his twin sons because he wanted to teach them that anything’s possible. The organizers asked Singer to run one mile in honour of the volunteers. They all did a great job, especially the Mexicans at their water stop who inspired many runners to keep going with their antics.

Caymanian Mark Hydes has run every marathon on this island. His sister Gerry is an avid runner too. She completed her first marathon two years ago and did a half this time as she did last year.

Track coach Kenrick Williams was pleased that his team Hy-Tech Tigers won the team event. ‘We’ve won twice as Hy-Tech Tigers and once as Triple A.’ It consisted of Keneck McDonald, David Hamil, Delano Samuels and Junior Hines

‘Junior is a middle to long distance runner, converted from 400 metres hurdles. This was just some background work he was doing. Most of them are just 400m and 800m runners, they’re not road runners.’

Cayman resident Jim Fraser – father of swimmer Shaun – ran the marathon to raise funds for the Lighthouse School. The 48-year-old is in great shape. He raised over $40,000 and the money will be used to build a multi-sensory nature garden for the students and also a hydrotherapy pool.

Erin Lynch raised $2,600 for the Humane Society. She adopted her cat, Charlie, from the Society and it was during early morning runs in preparation for the marathon that she decided to help the Humane Society. It was her first marathon and she completed in a good time of 4 hrs 34 mins.

It is characters like these who underpin the ethos of marathon running, that the taking part is just as important as the winning.

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