All ages and abilities enjoyed it

Running a marathon is a triumph over mind over body, that’s for sure.

Some, perversely, enjoy it but for many it’s 26.2 miles of sheer torture, a necessary experience merely for sporting fulfilment.


Wilson and Gloria travel all over. Photo: Ron Shillingford

Sunday’s Cayman Islands Marathon was another success and many who ran it were not elite runners, merely ‘enjoying’ the challenge.

Some ran full, others half marathon and plenty shared the load by running in a four-member team. There were even two wheelchair racers who competed for Stay Focused.

The kids’ run was as popular as last year and the water stop challenge was keenly contested too. The Colombians had the most colourful stop and the Indians were well turned out. So many water stop volunteers made an effort, it was hard to decide who was the best.

Some teams, typically, had zany names like Three Chicks and One Rooster, Eye of the Turtles, Santa’s Little Helpers and PwC You At The Finish Line. (The Caymanian Compass team was aptly named Free Press Express!)

There were plenty of overseas runners, including John and Laurie King from Fayetteville, Georgia and three running magazines had correspondents here; Canadian Running, Runner’s World and Marathon & Beyond.

The race was won by Scott Brittain for the second year in succession, again in a record time.

Marathon runners are often reformed couch potatoes. Englishman Robin ‘Redhat’ Wilson is one. At 74 he is still going strong and this was his 341th.

He got the bug at 46, when grossly overweight and smoking and drinking himself towards an early grave, a drastic lifestyle change was needed.

Weighing 220lbs his moment of truth came at the cricket club where was the members’ secretary.

He went to throw out a non-member not realising that he was looking in a mirror at himself!

‘That frightened the life out of me. I started running, liked it and managed to get a London Marathon ticket, in 1982,’ he says sipping a beer after a sub-five hour run.

He was a bordering alcoholic, ‘but I can have a beer, I get the urge now and again’.

He adds: ‘All my friends from my cricket days are dead now. We packed up cricket because we couldn’t see the ball very well anymore. I went into running and they went to golf but they were still drinking. But I saw the light.’

The former post office manager lives off his pension which is enough to finance his world running trips.

In Cayman he celebrated 46 years marriage to Gloria. She’s never run a marathon. ‘I just support,’ she laughs. ‘I’ve done two or three fun runs and I’ve walked a half marathon but I don’t like it like he does. I think he’s mad.’ Not the only one, dear.

Wilson retorts: ‘Never mind that, she didn’t mind going to Hawaii a month ago. Can’t be bad, can it?

‘Cayman is not as good as Hawaii which is bigger but I love it here, nice people and the drinking stations are absolutely superb. Along the coast it’s lovely, and nice and flat. I’ve never run a flatter one.’

His time of 4:55:31 was good enough to beat seven others. ‘I like to think my time is alright. When I did Hawaii I did 5:02 and won the over-70s, so that was handy.’

How many more does he intend to run? ‘I’d like to do 500. My hip is alright and my knees. The only thing that wears out is the money in my pocket!’

Charities benefited substantially. This year the main recipients were the Cancer Society and the Cadet Corps.

Angeline Jeffries is a dental assistant here. She famously thought she was entering herself in the half marathon but actually signed up for the full.

The South African says: ‘My time was 4:46. I just wanted to finish it and it was a good time for my first Cayman Marathon. I’ll definitely need to do it again but we need to start training earlier – and not by accident.’

Her boss is Dr Bert Thacker: ‘I’m Angie’s support crew. I got tricked into it. Angie’s good looks and charm talked me into it a couple of days ago, to drive around with liquids and food for her.’

Seven years ago this sort of endeavour was furthest from Dave Bennett’s mind.

‘I was diagnosed with testicular cancer when I turned 30 and I’m doing my best to get over it and staying as fit and healthy as possible. I took this marathon on as a new challenge. I had a little personal goal of five hours and did 4:48 and survived, so that was great.

‘My wife Lauretta was very supportive but I made sure I didn’t stay with her, (she ran the half). I didn’t want to get burnt out. Lauretta was fourth woman in the half marathon, in her first event of that distance.’

Dave also did the Olympic distance Turtle Triathlon three weeks ago. ‘Again, I set myself a personal goal and beat that. Today was four miles of hell and 22 miles of torture.’ And somehow he still enjoyed it.

Race director Rhonda Kelly was full of enthusiasm. She was ably supported by Laurie-Ann Holding (cricket legend Michael’s wife), Bev Sinclair and Sue Greene, plus an army of volunteers, including medical back up.

There was even a massage tent for the weary legged.

‘We had some great runs, some people doing their personal bests, people doing their first marathon, others their first half marathon, it was really exhilarating,’ says Kelly.

‘Scott did well. He said he was going to break the record and went out and did it, which was great.

‘The wheelchair athletes enjoyed it too. It was a trial and they were excited, so were we. It went really well and I’m going to have a chat with them to see if they were okay. Everything was wonderful, the turnout, the people. We’re just happy to be part of this experience.

‘We had close to 550 after packet pick up. We had about 100 more than last year which is great.’

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