The 13th annual Dashing through the sand fun run on Seven Mile Beach saw a large field of locals and visitors turn out for the traditional post-Christmas event.
Whether to get an early start on New Year’s resolutions or to end the year on a high note, the runners and walkers took to the beach for a 1,5 mile course that took them from the beach behind Hemingways to the finish line just short of Tiki Beach.
Defending champion Marius Acker was expected to dominate again, although he had a bit of a scare early on when another runner managed to pull well clear of him in the first couple of hundred metres.
“I only took control of the race at the Ritz as a local runner ran the race as if it was only half a mile,” recalled Acker.
However, in spite of the early challenge, Acker managed to chase his rival down and was able to cruise to the finish line with a clear lead for a successful title defence.
He was followed home by Cayman Carifta representative Tristan von Kirchenheim, who claimed second place with ease.
For Acker, the event presented some unique challenges.
“Most of the runners were tourists so I did not know if there was going to be any surprises in good visiting runners,” he said.
Acker said he was glad to finish the year in winning form and was hoping to continue his winning ways in 2011.
In the ladies’ division, pre-race favourite Krissy Dooling showed a clean pair of heels to the rest of the field, charging home as the winner, with a fifth place overall, while Emily Davies finished in second place.
His Excellency the Governor, Duncan Taylor, also took part in the event, and claimed a high finish surrounded by some of the faster runners on Island.
However, the event is not all about the competitive runners and there were many families and present, including a number represented by three generations in the same event. Many participants also got into the Christmas spirit with festive headgear ranging from Santa hats to reindeer antlers.
Many visitors to the Island also took part in the event, many of them returning year after year to take part during their Christmas vacation.
After completing the course, runners and walkers were treated to breakfast at Tiki Beach, as well as a prize giving that rewarded the fastest finishers as well as many random prizes. Even the slowest finisher was recognised with a special prize.
According to organiser Jerry Harper of the Phoenix Athletic Club, the event has become an institution on the Cayman Islands running calendar over the years and as the last running event of the year has a special place in the hearts of many local runners.
As for the shod versus barefoot question, the winners in the men’s and women’s divisions chose to run barefoot, while a number of other participants ended up completing the race with their shoes in their hands rather than on their feet.
The event was sponsored by the Department of Tourism, with support from Jacques Scott and Company and Tiki Beach Resort, along with contributions from Progressive Distributors and 24-K Mon jewellers.