When it comes to a romantic interlude, few places in the Caribbean can match Cayman for sheer beauty and atmosphere.
So it should come as no surprise that a couple got engaged at the end of the Cayman Triathlon on Public Beach last week.
Saul Zion proposed and bride-to-be Sharon Finkel had no inkling beforehand about what was about to happen after they completed the event.
In front of hundreds of people, Saul did the gallant thing and got down on one knee and proposed to his sweetheart and produced the clincher, the ring.
Saul said: ‘We are both age group triathletes and live and train in New York City and are training for Ironman Lake Placid in July 2010.
‘We met several years ago and had not been in touch for quite some time but reconnected just a year ago when I happened to spot Sharon during the NYC marathon while she was running last November.
‘We caught up after the marathon and have been inseparable since. Sharon has been competing in triathlons for several years and since we started dating, it’s become a part of our lifestyle.
‘It’s such an integral part of her life that she had even imagined that she would someday get engaged at the finish line of a race, and given that we are training for Ironman, she thought it would likely happen then.
‘Since we are ready to move forward with our lives now, I didn’t want to wait another nine months to propose. I thought proposing to her at the finish line of a fun race would be the perfect place to do it and we had been planning a vacation anyway so an opportune time as well.
‘The only thing is she had no idea we were coming to Cayman or doing the race. I told her I had planned a vacation for us in Costa Rica because I didn’t want her to have any idea of what was to come.
‘She only realised that we were headed to Cayman once we arrived at the airport in New York. At that point, she still had no clue but just thought it was a fun surprise to keep her from planning anything for us ahead of time.’
Finkel, 33, is a lawyer in New York and Zion, 29, is a physical therapist.
He added: ‘We arrived in Cayman on Thanksgiving Day and the next day I told her I had a surprise for her. I brought her to race registration and told her we were signed up for the Cayman Triathlon.
‘She was completely surprised and a bit confused but excited to race in the beautiful Cayman waters and landscape.
‘I had packed her tri gear and bike helmet (we train with a local team in NYC), but did not ship our bikes because I assumed we’d be able to rent them in Cayman.
‘Unfortunately that wasn’t the case and we ended up having to borrow single speed cruiser bikes from hotel staff. It actually worked out perfectly because it allowed us to really just have fun with it and enjoy the day.
‘We decided we would do the whole thing together and just enjoy the whole experience. When we got to the finish line, we crossed together and I handed our camera to someone to take some pictures of us crossing the line knowing that I was about to propose.
‘We ran back over to the other side and crossed the finish line once again, and then I dropped to one knee and proposed to her.
‘She was truly shocked, definitely did not expect it or have any idea it was coming. I think she really believed I would wait for Ironman.
‘She didn’t say yes for a few minutes because she was truly shocked, but of course finally did say yes.
‘I never doubted she would,’ he smiled. ‘We are truly in love and made for one another. We are both from New York originally, born and raised.
‘We do not have any specific connection to Cayman but Sharon did vacation there with her family more than 15 years ago and had great memories.
‘This was my first visit here. I chose Cayman because the tri here was the last of the season and timed perfectly with our vacation dates.
‘We don’t have any specific plans for our wedding, just yet, but are not ruling out getting married in Cayman next year.
‘We would love to come back and do the race with many of our triathlete friends as well. It was well organised, unbelievably seamless and one of the most enjoyable races we’ve ever experienced.
‘Our trip and the entire long weekend in Cayman was incredible. Whether it’s for our wedding or another romantic getaway, we will be back soon, especially because we never did find the ‘apple bananas’ that Sharon loved when she was there years ago; and because Sharon is craving the coconut cream pie from The Wharf.’