Seven Mile Beach was crowded with holiday merrymakers early on Boxing Day morning as more than 300 celebrants enjoyed the eleventh presentation of the annual Dashing Thru the Sand Beach Run/Walk.
The number of resident participants topped the century mark, while first-time visitors joined perennial returnees from more than 20 of the United States, along with people from Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, as well as from such far-flung points of origin as England, Wales and South Africa. There were even entrants from Cayman Brac.
Sponsored by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism and organized by the Phoenix Athletic Club, action got underway promptly on the beach near Hemingway’s upon the command of traditional starter Bill Estwanik.
And off they dashed toward the finish and the promise of breakfast at the Gecko Beach Cafe at the Courtyard by Marriott.
The throng included several four-footed friends, some youngsters being carried by parents, and a crowd of splashers and dashers ranging in age from toddlers to advanced veterans.
The usual question of strategy – shoes or no shoes? – was entertained with proponents of both methods making individual decisions.
David Walker led the field to finish first in a time of nine minutes, twenty-five seconds, as runner up honours were garnered by local running standout Junior Hines, now attending Missouri Baptist University, with a 9:57 clocking.
Up-and-coming distance notable Tristan von Kirchenhein placed third in 10:32, while fourth place was determined in a close battle between Matt Rheinberger (10:58), David Rood (10:59) and John Goettler (11:02).
Gill Comins took top honours among the ladies with an eighth-place overall performance in 11:23, with Lizzy Haines, back on the island briefly, next at 11:57, and Tracey Walker (12:21) and Wendy Frewman (12:24), rounding out the fastest four on the distaff side.
Again, according to tradition, Bill Estwanik donated the prizes to the first male and female finishers.
The next three fastest in the male and female categories received appropriate awards.
Special recognition was granted to the Rheinberger group, who entered the largest number of family participants, Sofia Watler as the youngest age three, and Juanita Tully-Wheaton the eldest at 94.
Lastest awards went to Joanne Gammage and Rankine McMillan. The family of James, Leslie, and Tim Black from Pinelands, South Africa, were judged to have started from the farthest distance away.
The random prizes included airline tickets on Cayman Airways, a sunset cruise on the Jolly Roger, items from Guy Harvey’s shop, products of the Cayman Taffy Company, a number of items from the Island Glassblowing Studio, holiday-related CDs from local artists and Grammy winner Paul Overstreet and gift certificates from several local donors.
A highlight among the random awards were the famous cookies baked by Mary Beth Estwanik.
In keeping with the occasion, boxes of numerous shapes and sizes were received as other random awards.
As usual, the event shirts designed by John Broad provided an outstanding souvenir of the action.
Among the participants were national boxing coach Doney Anglin and boxer Kendall Ebanks. Also taking a leisurely stroll was Kareem Streete-Thompson, national athletics record-holder, who is now coaching at Florida State University.
Florida State women’s coach Jackie Richards also took part.
Calendars from CNB and the Department of Tourism were distributed, along with souvenir key chains, pens, luggage tags, and visitor information packages.
Organiser Jerry Harper said: ‘All in all, the overall opinion appeared to be-great fun! How can it be topped next year? Everyone is invited to return and learn the answer.’