Scott Brittain defends his Cayman Marathon title this weekend expecting a much tougher race than last year when he set the record.
The speedy Aussie may have to be in even better shape than when he ran 2 hours 45 minutes and 23 seconds last year.
Then he was virtually running solo from the 13 mile point after Marius Acker, the second fastest runner on the island, finished his half marathon.
‘Training as always could be better but I’m happy with how it’s looking for the marathon,’ says Brittain, 32.
‘Because of other commitments, I haven’t done as many long weekend runs this year but I have been doing more marathon specific quality training which I didn’t do in the lead up to last year’s event.
‘Hopefully that will pay dividends on the day. Last year I relied quite a bit on the endurance I had built up from training for a couple of marathons I competed in before arriving on the island.
‘This year I don’t have anywhere near those miles in the legs. There is quite a bit of running interest on the island now and the overall quality has definitely improved from last year so the challenge is most likely to come from on island.’
Most Wednesday mornings over the past couple of months Brittain has been running the half marathon course with Russell Coleman and Jasper Mikkelsen with specific emphasis over the last 30 minutes to run at or slightly quicker than marathon race pace.
‘These runs have been great quality so I’m expecting both of them to be my main rivals in the race itself,’ says Brittain.
‘We have also built up a good quality squad for our weekly speed sessions with up to about eight of us meeting every Tuesday morning. Everyone seems to be benefiting from these and I expect several good performances to come from this group on the day also.
‘Hopefully, the same windy conditions won’t be around for the marathon as they were for the Turtle Triathlon last week otherwise there will be little chance of matching last year’s time.
‘With still conditions on the day, I think I can go under 2.45 but it may again depend on what’s happening with the rest of the field.
‘Ideally I’d be happy to do the first half with company in 1.20 but if 1.20 meant I was running by myself right from the start stuck behind what will likely be Marius Acker leading the half marathon and Russell Coleman who is planning a more conservative first half of the full marathon in 1.25
‘I might have to re-assess those plans pretty early on and decide whether to push a little harder than I would really like early on or hold back and run a quicker second half of the race instead.
‘Having said that, I’m not too concerned about the time if I am lucky enough to cross the line first again this year.’
The Tuesday runs start in the darkness at 6am and include Acker, Coleman, Mikkelsen, Mike McDonald, Yohan Heath, Dave Shilbi, Beth Schreader and Mark Hogan.
Of the fastest women, Schreader can expect stiff competition from Katrina Rowe and Lauretta Bennett. Rowe was the fastest Cayman-based woman last year.
Elite athletes like Brittain generally have a strict diet, but like a typical Antipodian, a couple of beers and fast food will do!
Not really, but Brittain admits to eating anything and everything. ‘I don’t do anything strict as far as diets go. I just make sure to try and eat sensibly and enough of it so that I have enough energy for training. I find if I’m doing some training I don’t have to watch too hard what I eat because you just burn off any excess calories from the occasional takeout or a few drinks at the pub.’
He also has a few tips for inexperienced runners. ‘It is also important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water on a daily basis while training because Cayman doesn’t have great conditions for running with high temperatures and humidity most of the year.
‘During the race itself, I will also be making sure to take a small amount of fluid at each water stop.
‘If you wait until you are thirsty before taking any fluids, it is already too late, because dehydration has already started to set in.
‘I’ll also be taking a couple of sports gels with me to take around the one and two hour mark of the race to give me a little more energy in the later part of the race.
‘These are helpful for events which last over two hours. I’ve used these in past marathons and also take them during my long training runs so that I’m used to digesting them while running. You don’t want to be trying anything new on race day whether it be clothes, shoes, socks, eating or drinking habits.