Cross Island numbers will soar

One of Cayman’s oldest sporting events, the Cross Island Relay will be staged soon and like many other recent road races it promises to have a record turn out.

It’s on Sunday 7 February and will be the 36th running of the annual event. It’s organised by the local running club Hash House Harriers and sponsored by Fidelity Bank again.

There was a record number of six-member teams in last year’s race, 52, and organisers hope that record will be broken again.

It starts at Gun Bay, East End from 6am and is a traditional baton relay with each runner’s leg about four miles. The finish is on the track at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex which is very appropriate because the winners feel like Olympic champions.

‘It’s a great event,’ said Tom Gammage, a Hash House runner and Fidelity Bank executive. ‘When I first came here about 13 years ago we were up to about 20 teams. Now we’re hoping for over 60.

‘What we’re doing for the first time this year is a Corporate Cup where all the participants are from the same company. It’s a separate prize and nice to get some competition between the many companies that enter.’

There are plenty of prizes, including top three teams, top female teams, strollers and corporate. Gammage feels it appeals to all because running four miles is not too much of a stretch for the average person who is reasonably fit.

‘The best times we’ve had are from the Eighties so this is a good time for a good team out there to post the best ever.’

There will be plenty of teams with humorous names. Last year that top team was Beauty and the Beasts. This year we’ll have Grumpy Old Men, headed by Roger Davies who said: ‘There’s a fella we’ve got to run who is really grumpy but has a tremendous reputation as a fast runner and his name is Ron Shillingford!

‘He’s very grumpy and already bald which you can’t say about me yet.’

John Elliott and Rodger Yeomans will be in the Grumpy Old Men team and they’ll all be over 60.

The Hash House Harriers is a non-profit organisation and all proceeds this year will go towards Cayman the Carifta Championships over the Easter weekend.

‘It’s going to cost the government a hell of a lot of money so any assistance they can get is deserving so we’re going to do our bit with the Cross-Island Relay this year,’ added Davies.

‘In previous years we’ve donated to the Special Olympics, but I know that this year the government is short of funds. Carifta is a fantastic championship. We’ve had it here before and you get all the best young athletes in the Caribbean competing so it’s a great thing to support.’

Steve Porter has run in every Cross-Island Relay since 1994 and is proud of the fact that his third place team plaque from one year sits proudly in full display in the Gateway of India restaurant, who sponsor the team.