Visitor numbers bound to step up

The race is already on to top the brilliance of this year’s Cayman Marathon even though runners have barely had time to get their breaths back.

speirs

Speirs won comfortably. Photo: Ron Shillingford

Race director Rhonda Kelly and her dedicated team are enjoying all the plaudits from staging the latest record-breaking event on Sunday but also focusing on making next year’s bigger and better. It’s already set for Sunday 5 December 2010.

With around 200 overseas runners amongst the 674 that competed from Breezes by the Bay, the onus is to not just to increase the local competing pool but to also get repeat runners and recruit new ones from abroad.

The team of six Italians had a blast and have promised to return. One of them even had his arm in a cast yet still enjoyed it. Kelly met a group of Canadians yesterday who want to come back in force next time.

‘I’ve had really good feedback,’ she said. ‘It’s been really positive, both from runners and volunteers.

‘We did a runners’ survey and everybody wants to come back, even though it was a bit warm.

‘They love the smallness and intimacy of the event, such as when their name is called at the finish. That makes them feel that they’re really part of the race and not just a number.

‘They also like the fact that they can come up and chat to the race director immediately after finishing, and of course, they’re happy not to be in the snow for a couple of days.’

Another unique feature of the Cayman Islands Marathon is the water stop challenge where volunteers at the refreshment stations are encouraged to dress up to entertain the runners and lift their spirits.

Soul Power, who dressed in Seventies style afro wigs, won, with the Indian station, theme Slum Dog Millionaire, second. Third was the Cancer Society’s station who all wore Hawaiian skirts.

The 26.2 mile race was won by Steve Speirs, a Welshman who lives in Virginia Beach, in 2 hours 59 minutes and 5 seconds.

Cayman resident Beth Schreader was second nine minutes later and Katherine Jones, a Brit, was third.

Pre-race favourite Scott Brittain pulled out near the end after struggling for most of the time he was involved. Injury had prevented any training for a few months but he was fully fit since September. Brittain had won the two previous Cayman Marathons by a wide margin, in record times.

‘My legs felt really heavy very early in the race,’ Brittain said. ‘From the eight-mile mark I was struggling and getting slower and had to walk a few times.

‘It wasn’t as if I’d started too fast because at the quarter-race point I was a minute slower than last year.

‘It’s a bit of a mystery to me. I was just really flat. I’ll wait until after Christmas and make my mind up what races I’ll do next year. Missing out on a hat-trick was disappointing but maybe next year I’ll win it back.’

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