Locals ready and steady to dash

For the 13th consecutive year, locals and visitors alike will burn off the Christmas turkey at the 13th annual Dashing through the Sand.

The popular fun run, set to take place on Sunday, 26 December, sets itself apart by forsaking the well-trodden tarmac and taking participants along some of the most scenic stretches of Seven Mile Beach, presenting runners with a unique conundrum – to run with shoes or to run without shoes. The event has been won both ways in the past, with participants remaining divided on the best way to do it.

Defending champion Marius Acker is likely to be back for more as he hopes to make it a trifecta of wins late in the season, having taken the Cayman Islands Triathlon as well as the Cayman Islands Half Marathon titles recently. Acker will be running the event barefoot.

“This race is so short and to be able to be competitive you need to run the shortest possible distance. Sometimes the shortest way to the finish takes you through the shallow waves. The waves will drench your shoes and make your legs feel heavy like logs,” said Acker.

However, he said that the risk of hurting your feet on pebbles or even broken glass makes it safer, if slower, to run with shoes.

Krissy Dooling, winner of the women’s division of the Cayman Islands Half Marathon, will also be taking to the beach on Sunday and hopes to put in a good performance.

“I will probably go barefoot and run in the wet sand. I run on the sand one to two times each week. My only suggestion is to try out both options before the day of the race,” said Dooling.

However, she is also cautious about advising other runners to leave their shoes at home.

“Running barefoot is a bit of an acquired taste and the risks include abrasions, stubbed toes and arch/heel pain. It is advised to gradually get the body used to the instability and lack of cushioning and support. If you have never tried running barefoot on the beach, it may be best to keep the runners on,” she said.

The event counts many visitors among its regular competitors as well, making it a tough race for the favourites to judge, as among the large number of recreational runners there can occasionally be a very competitive runner as well. Race organisers Phoenix Athletic Club have already registered interest from participants from as far afield as Alberta, Ontario, Ohio, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and New York.

This year’s event will start on the beach just north of Hemingways, with participants making their way to the finish line at Tiki Beach, a distance of roughly one and a half miles.

In its usual fun fashion, the event will present awards to the fastest and ‘lastest’ finishers, as well as random awards to many in between.

Race entry is CI$25, and includes breakfast at Tiki Beach after the event, as well as an event T-shirt designed by local artist John Broad.

Registration will be conducted on race day near the Cayman Beach Suites bridge and Deckers from 6.30am to 7.15am. Registration prior to race day is greatly encouraged, and shirts will be delivered to those whose entries are received before noon on Friday, 24 December. Entry forms are available on caymanactive.com and runners may call 945-3970 to receive delivery of shirts.

The main sponsor of Dashing through the Sand is the Department of Tourism, with Jacques Scott and Tiki beach resort also supporting the event. Other contributors include Progressive Distributors and 24-K Mon jewellers.

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Marius Acker will be aiming to add yet another trophy on Sunday. – Photo: Eugene Bonthuys
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