Running out of spare dates

 There are so many road running events in Cayman that it seems every weekend there’s an opportunity to pull on shorts and sneakers for a good cause or just to test yourself against the Island’s elite.
   The Fidelity Fun Run series, Cayman Marathon, Cross Island Relay, rugby’s Scary Run on Halloween, Irish Jog, Ken Krys’s Off the Beaten Track, To Hell and Back plus a raft of charity runs are the staple for the growing band of weekend warriors.
   Englishman Roger Davies has lived in Cayman for over 20 years and thinks this is the busiest time for road runs he’s ever experienced.
   “It’s difficult to pin down, but I would say that there has definitely been a real growth over the last five years since Hurricane Ivan,” says Davies who at 65 is usually the oldest in the field. He usually competes with daughter Emily and son Martin who are top runners too. Other family members also race occasionally.
   Davies is a driving force in the Hash House Harriers, a running club that meets every Monday night for a run of roughly three miles.
   He also revived the recent Scotiabank Relays which used to be extremely popular with Cayman runners.
   All the proceeds went towards Cayman’s staging of the CARIFTA Games over the Easter weekend.
   Before the staging of the Scotiabank Relays, which finished at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, they were last held in 2003, but Hurricane Ivan the following year put paid to that.
   Davies managed 70 teams this year and judging by the response despite not having much time to organise it, next year’s will be huge.
   “We do seem to see a lot of new and younger faces, maybe due to the rollover policy, but I believe an extra incentive in the bigger turnouts is the combination of engaging in a healthy lifestyle and raising funds for good causes, such as the Cancer Society Half Marathon and the St Patrick’s day 5k.
   “Indeed, we had many runners in the recent Cross Island Relay asking us who we were donating the proceeds to – CARIFTA in our case.
   “The way things are going unless the economy takes a significant downturn, I see a 10 to 15 per cent increase in turnout each year going forward. Another factor which really helps is the support we get from the media, this is vital to increasing numbers.”
   Davies would like to see more pro athletes come down but knows that Cayman’s tropical climate and relatively small budgets prevent that.
   “Unfortunately, attracting the big name athletes costs big money and until the Government is in a better financial position, I don’t see this happening, although we do have a first class track facility.
   “Having said that however, don’t forget we are hosting the CARIFTA athletics in April, which will bring all of the Caribbean’s best young athletes to the Cayman Islands, and remember the world’s best sprinters are reared right here in the West Indies.
   “In terms of pure performance the best era here was when Jerry Harper trained his Barefoot Brigade in the Eighties, the best young distance runners we ever had, one of which still holds the fastest female leg record in the Cross Island Relay.
   “In those times we also had Hash setting the fastest overall team and individual times, and even had Bill Rogers running his special race here for a number of years.”