The Cayman Islands Marathon is three months away but already many overseas runners have committed to be in Grand Cayman for the world renowned event.
It takes place on Sunday 7 December and its growing popularity is an indication that the event continues to gain international recognition as a fun, well-organised and easy race, attracting both veteran and novice athletes.
Some are taking the opportunity of escaping their freezing winters to run in a tropical climate.
Local athletes will be mingling with runners from Canada, the UK, the Bahamas and Americans from as far as California, New York, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, many of whom registered for the race in early 2008, and 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, Cayman Islands Marathon Race Director.
‘Every year our numbers increase, and we have the opportunity to showcase the warmth and hospitality of the Cayman Islands to our runners.
‘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 few repeat runners this year.’
Kelly attributes the continued increase in international runners primarily to a comprehensive, strategic marketing plan that the organizers have employed, which includes promoting at big races such as the Boston Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon, putting brochures in runners’ bags at other races, and placing ads in renowned runners publications.
She added that the positive feedback from past runners and the curiosity that runners have about Cayman also contribute to the event’s rising numbers.
‘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.
‘Others come here on business, hear about our marathon and sign up then and there! The location practically markets the event for us.’
Venture capitalist George Pavlov from Palo Alto, California noticed the Cayman Islands Marathon on the race schedule of a popular marathon website, and decided to register for the full marathon.
‘I have a board meeting in Grand Cayman on the Monday after the Cayman Islands Marathon, so I thought why not?’ says Pavlov when asked why he decided to run the race.
This will be the 48-year old’s first visit to Cayman and he is coming with an open mind, not having heard much about the country.
His goal is to run with a friend, and to finish the race, hopefully being able to bring his wife along to cheer him on at the finish line.
Debbie Saint from the UK is returning to run her second marathon here, having participated in the 2007 event, finishing in a time of 4 hours 9 minutes 47 seconds.
‘My first Cayman Islands Marathon experience was great!’ Saint says. ‘It was a very friendly course to run and the water stations were fantastic. Everyone’s enthusiasm, the spectators, the volunteers and the runners, was very encouraging.’
Saint decided to do the marathon again this year because she loves Cayman and enjoys visiting her sister, who lives here. Getting away from the cold, wet and dark of the UK in December is also a motivation, she jokes.
‘I’m hoping to come back faster and fitter this year,’ declares the 35-year-old from West Sussex. ‘Running the first lap of the marathon with the half-marathoners last year helped keep the pace up and this year I am running and cycling more in training, to hopefully make me quicker.’
Saint has already completed two half-marathons and a marathon this year, and will do both a half and a full a few weeks before she arrives in Cayman.
‘I’m looking forward to coming out to Cayman already and I am making my stay longer this year than last.’
Lisa Howe of Portland, Oregon has chosen the Cayman Islands to run her first official half-marathon, and celebrate her 30th birthday.
Howe will be coming here with her husband and will join her friend of 20 years, Jessica, Chris who is Jessica’s mom, and two other friends all of whom will be running the half-marathon.
‘This is my first organised run of any length. I do a lot of yoga and Pilates but I’m not a regular runner,’ says Howe. ‘Since I had friends already running and because I’ll turn 30 a week and a half before the marathon, I thought it would be a great way to celebrate, and start a new decade in my life.’
Howe has never been to the Cayman Islands before but says that everyone she knows who has visited loved it. As for her goal for the race, she says she wants to ‘train, finish and feel great about it.’
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, Ministry of Education, Gatorade, Flowers Bottled Water, Corona Light, Cayman National, Atlantic Star Limited, Sagicor, Breezes By the Bay Restaurant, Cayman Free Press, Kirk Freeport, 106.1 KISS FM, Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, Island Companies, ESSO, BioFreeze/RVC Rehab Services, Quaker, Red Sail Sports, CUC, Royal Bank of Canada, Audi, Tropicana, RE/MAX Cayman Islands, Million Dollar Run, Inc. and The Final Touch.