The annual Key West Half Marathon in Florida was run last week and several top Cayman based runners participated with the race winner being local hero Marius Acker. A total of 915 runners from seven countries braved the early morning chill to participate in the runs so it was quite an accomplishment for Acker to beat such a large field.
He said: “It was ideal running conditions except for a strong wind. It was chilly in the morning on an almost completely flat course. The great weather and flat course is what attracted me to this race and the fact that its rated by rated by Runner’s World magazine as the best winter destination race.
“I took the lead from mile two in the race after going through the first mile in second place trying to establish who might be the possible contenders before I started to break away from the pack to finish in 1 hour 15 minutes and 3 seconds.
“There was a wall on the one side of part of the route and I ran as close as possible to it to shelter against a howling wind. A natural hedge fence on another party of the route also provided shelter against the strong cross wind.
“Last year’s defending champion Tom Dever followed me in the break away and was about 300 yards behind up to three miles but started to lose ground after that to finish two and a half minutes off the pace in 1:17:41 – which was still good for a 52-year-old.”
Cayman based runners had a good fitness level after the Cayman Marathon in December and only needed to maintain fitness over the holiday period to be ready for another race. The fact that three of the Cayman group ran personal best times on the course shows that running races a few weeks apart will deliver dividends.
“I ran 45 seconds quicker than my Cayman Half Marathon two months ago, mainly due to the cooler conditions in Key West,” added Acker. “My personal best is 1.14.03 ran in Miami in 2009 and if it was not for the wind in Key West I would have certainly improved on that.”
Mark Hogan, who was second in the Cayman Marathon, did a personal best to finish fifth in 1:22:40 and win his age group of 35-39. There were personal bests too for Conrad Proud and JP Hanekom who both ran around 1:28. Johan Heath ran an easy pace with his partner Jana Bolton who both finished in 2:23:33.
Acker is competing in the Cross Island Relays on Sunday, then the Duathlon in March on island and possibly a 10k or 21k in the summer.