The Cayman Islands Marathon last week was a huge success, that is well documented. Scott Brittain broke his own course record, there was a record number of entries and the whole thing went remarkably smoothly and in good spirits.
Every year there is an innovation and being one of the flattest courses in the world, it was inevitable that wheelchair athletes would get their chance.
Ryan Chalmers and Brian Siemann were the two wheelchair athletes that competed on a trial basis. They raced in two separate Stay-Focused teams, each completing 6.5 miles. Running that distance is tough enough and it’s a testament to theirstrength that they did it on their wheelchairs.
Both are accomplished scuba divers and the marathon was just another challenge these plucky students from the University of Illinois overcame.
Siemann said: ‘Since returning home I’ve had some time to think about my experience.
‘The beginning of my trip was just like any of my other trips to Cayman: I went scuba diving, I met up with friends, and just explored the island.
‘However, last Sunday was different. It was race day, the reason I had come to Cayman in the first place.
‘I couldn’t believe I was getting ready to compete in the Cayman Islands Marathon. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be able to race in Cayman, the place that I truly consider my second home.
‘Even as I began racing, everything still felt surreal to me. I remember feeling both incredibly excited, but also extremely anxious as well.
‘However, as I continued to push down Walkers Road, I was encouraged by not only the Caymanians, but the volunteers and runners as well; and that’s when it finally hit me, I had come to Cayman with a purpose … to race.
‘No longer did pushing in Cayman seem surreal to me. At that moment, all of my anxiety disappeared, and I pushed as fast as I possibly could.
‘Crossing the finish line with a crowd of Caymanians, volunteers, runners and spectators cheering me on is something I will never forget.
‘I feel so privileged to be one of the first two wheelchair athletes to compete in the Cayman Islands Marathon, and would like to thank the Courtyard Marriott Grand Cayman, Red Sail Sports, Andy’s Rent-A-Car, John Brunner, Bill Reina, and Cummins Mid-South for their generous and ongoing support of Stay-Focused.
‘Competing in the marathon was a dream come true, and I cannot wait to come down again next year to do it again.’
Sports pictures are available to buy for $10 each. Go to http://www.caycompass.com/photogallery/marathon1/