It was expected to be the biggest and best Cayman Islands Marathon so far and the sixth running of the annual event did not disappoint.
Over 500 converged at opposite points on the course on Sunday for their runs in the full 26.2 mile marathon, half marathon and team relay. Race director Rhonda Kelly and her dedicated team did a fantastic job.
It started at Breezes in George Town and wound around South Sound out to Prospect Point and back, undoubtedly one of the most scenic marathon routes anywhere in the world.
Scott Brittain, defending champion, knocked eight minutes off his 2007 record when he ran his first Cayman Marathon. He put in extra mileage this time round and smashed it by almost three minutes, finishing in 2 hours 42 minutes and 33 seconds.
Russell Coleman was second in 2:52:27, Daryl Hultquist third in 3:12:12 and Beth Schreader fourth and the first woman home in 3:12:54.
A jubilant Brittain said: ‘I thought I was capable of running faster than last year, it just depended on what sort of day it turned out for us, weather wsie.
‘Luckily, it was pretty good. I started out more conservative this time in the first half and I think that paid off because my second half was quicker than last year.
‘I ran more evenly so I felt much stronger half-way than last year and knew a good time was on.’
The pounding the joints take in training mean iggling injuries are normal for marathon runners and Brittain was no exception.
‘I’ve actually been in a physio this week with a reoccurrence of a hip injury that kept me out throughout August. So I was a bit concerned late into the week on whether I’d be able to get onto the start line or not, but with a bit of treatment I was okay.
‘But I did feel some pain the last five miles when my form started to go a bit, but I just dug deep.’
The 33-year-old Aussie is looking forward to running the Boston in April. ‘It’s the most famous marathon in the world and whilst I’m in this region I thought it would be crazy not to go and do it.
‘I’m not sure how serious I’ll do it, it’s an event in itself so it’s good to be just involved and I’ll make a decision in the new year as to how serious I’ll take it.’
Coleman was satisfied with his time. ‘Yeah, I’m really happy being the quickest after Scott. I could never have caught Scott today but I’m very happy to have done a good time.
‘My strategy was not to go off too hard and I think some of them did. I was a little scared that I wouldn’t catch them but I proved that I had the right tactics.’
Coleman overtook Eduardo Torres after six miles and a speedy half marathon runner. Coleman, Brittain and Schreader are all going to do the Boston Marathon in April. ‘We’re not going to do any training now before Christmas, just drinking and after Christmas we’ll start training again,’ Coleman said.
Torres was fifth in 3:27:45 but feels he was robbed of 30 minutes when he took a wrong turn near the end. He wanted to break three hours.
Torres said: ‘At Elgin Avenue there was a small sign which I didn’t see that said to turn left but I went right. It was still pretty dark out and there were no marshals there. I’m thinking of writing to the organisers because it cost me a lot of time.’
Schreader ran a personal best. ‘Training with Scott, Russell and the others helped but I also did a lot of hard work for this one. I set a goal for myself to do my best time and I’m pleased.
‘I was doing 80 mile weeks, getting up at 3.30 and 4am and all the hard work paid off.
‘I wasn’t worried about my placing, I just wanted a good time and if it happened to be good enough to get first place woman, all the better.
Marius Acker broke his own half marathon record by a minute, finishing in 1:16:31. After his storming show in the Turtle Triathlon two weeks earlier when he was the first local home and only beaten by semi-pro Ben Adam, Acker’s performance was not a total surprise.
‘I’m happy,’ he said. ‘A minute and a half quicker, it’s been a good day. No wind and it was a little cooler than last year which helped.
‘This year the Turtle Tri and the marathon were two weeks apart, instead of one, so I had more recovery time.
‘Scott was the only one, half way who was near me so I just had to run by myself. It was good and went well.’
Paul Drury was second half marathoner and behind him was Michal Kapral who amazingly juggled three balls all the way yet still finished in 1:27:14. Kapral is a ‘joggler’ and is so accomplished that he holds the marathon joggling record (2:50:12) which is entered in the Guinness World Records.
Tennis coach Thomas Neuert enjoyed his half marathon. ‘I trained more than I did for the Stride and Stroke and wanted to do 1:40 and did 1:38 so I’m very happy,’ he said.
‘The whole event is really great. I want to run maybe the marathon next year and a top 10 finish would be nice. I’ve never done a marathon and that is one of the next things on my list to do.’
Around 135 overseas runners came in and of course, there were some colourful characters amongst them.
Two of them were English couple Dave and Linda Major from London. This was his 311th marathon and her 204th. They always run in shorts in the United Kingdom flag.
He did it in 4:11:32. ‘This was my 53rd marathon this year and I’ve got one more to do,’ he said. Surprisingly, he only started 12 years ago, typically for health reasons. Major was asthmatic and was told to stop smoking, drinking heavily and to lose weight.
‘So we started running. Did a half marathon, enjoyed that, did the London Marathon and just kept on doing.
‘I work at Luton Airport and Linda works for Barclaycard, so the jobs are good for us and it allows us to go around the world running.
‘Cayman is lovely, you’re really lucky to have such a great place. You’ve all got big hearts here. That means you’re going to have a good race for years to come.
‘Two lap courses, you either like em or hate em, I don’t mind them. The weather for us is fantastic, but in December we’re not used to this. We’re all a bit slower because of it.’
Then Linda finished and still panting they hugged.
‘This lady keeps me going.’ Big kiss then in keeping with the British stereotype they continued swigging their bottles of Corona – 9.35am!
Linda enjoys being a running tourist. How much longer will they keep going? ‘Until you put me in a wooden box!’ she laughs.