Hazel’s Chi will help in the toughest race here

Of the many road races staged in Grand Cayman throughout the year, the toughest must be the newly introduced Off The Beaten Track.

It was first ran last year and the event proved successful enough to become an annual one. The second Off The Beaten Track road race in Grand Cayman is on Sunday from Public Beach.

Kenneth Krys, founder and CEO of specialised corporate recovery and insolvency firm KRyS Global, the main sponsors, hopes to see more participants this year.

Eighteen teams and two individuals competed in the event last time. The winning relay team was Burton’s Burners with a time of 4 hours 1 minute and 44 seconds. Richard Barber was the first individual runner to finish, completing in four hours and 41 minutes.

The starting and finishing point is Public Beach and the run is approximately 50km (31 miles) for an individual, or segments of roughly five miles each for up to a six person relay team. The race starts at 6:30am.

The ultra-marathon is designed to create the atmosphere of the ultra-distance race run every year in the hot sands of Morocco – the Marathon des Sables. As the name implies, the course is a complex route incorporating beach, dyke roads, back streets and more. For fit and seasoned runners, the race will undoubtedly be a unique and challenging experience.

All monies raised will again be donated to Facing Africa – a charity dedicated to helping children in the sub-Sahara who suffer from a disease called Noma which is an acute and ravaging gangrenous infection affecting the face.

The victims are mainly children under the age of six, caught in a vicious cycle of extreme poverty and malnutrition. The mortality rate for this disease is estimated at about 90 per cent. Those who do survive suffer from immense distress and social isolation as a result of their facial deformities.

Krys, a long-standing marathon enthusiast and supporter of Facing Africa, participated in the 2009 Marathon des Sables and the Antarctic Ice Marathon in December.

The event has already gained the support of Tower Marketing, Governor’s Square, Stuarts Walker Hersant, PWC, Mourant Ozannes, MCS, dms Management, Maples and Calder, Maples Fund Services, Solomon Harris, the Caymanian Compass, Vision Marketing/Signs of Paradise, and Foster’s Food Fair.

One of the Off The Beaten Track competitors will be Hazel Wood, coming in from California and competing for Central’s Striders. “I like to run when I travel – not only to keep in shape and because I enjoy it, but also it is an easy way to see and experience new places,” she said.

“Also, it is always fun to enter races in different locales so when I was planning my visit to Grand Cayman I checked out the Cayman Active website for running events and saw the info on Off The Beaten Track and thought it was a unique event for a great cause so when my brother, Graham Wood, a long time resident of Grand Cayman asked if I would like to be on a team with some Rotary members I jumped at the opportunity.

“Coincidentally I had set a goal for 2011 of doing a relay event. One of the big relays where I live is from Calistoga in the wine country to Santa Cruz on the coast and I’ve always heard how much fun the teams have together.

“What I am particularly looking forward to with Off The Beaten Track is the combination of competition, challenge and camaraderie. I’ve been running and racing for over 30 years and I have competed in several distances from one mile to 50 miles but this will be my first relay.

“I have always had a passion for running and in fact I now work as a Certified ChiRunning instructor, helping people run with greater ease, energy, efficiency and prevent injury.

“It’s a mindful and core-based approached to running where you apply principles of T’ai Chi so that you can run in a smooth and relaxed way.

“My current mileage base is quite low so I’ll be relying heavily upon the simple principles of ChiRunning for whatever distance I’m given. I’ll be doing a lot of body sensing and focusing on alignment and relaxation to conserve energy.”

The theory is that ChiRunning starts with aligning your posture (shoulder over hips over ankles) then letting your aligned posture fall forward so that gravity pulls you instead of having to push yourself. It reduces the workload on the legs so that the runner has more energy. In a race good Chi runners let their lean become their gas pedal instead of their legs.

There are a few things about Off The Beaten Track that Wood finds appealing. “One is the opportunity to contribute to a special cause. I’ve participated in a lot of races that raise funds for charities but many of them are for the big charities with huge organisations so this feels very special.

“Also, it is very much a mystery to me – the fact that the course is kept secret, and they type of terrain I’ll be running on. The organisers seem to be doing a good job of creating fun and mystery within the context of competition.

“It reminds of the old treasure hunts I went on as a child growing up in England. The challenging part for me is going to be the heat and humidity.

“Although we have relatively good weather in California we’ve had a lot of rain this winter so I am certainly not accustomed to running in high temperatures. Another challenge could be the terrain – I’ve no idea what sort of surface I’ll be running on – beach, gravel, ashpalt? “But the mystery is all part of the fun and why I wanted to participate. That and getting to meet lots of fellow runners and event supporters.”

Following the race there will be a nominal prize for the winning relay team and best individual male and female winner, with a BBQ and a medal distribution ceremony at Public Beach.

Online registration and payment can be made at Cayman Active www.caymanactive.com. Registrations on pick-up day at Calico Jack’s (Public Beach) on Saturday, 26 February from 10am-4pm. Entry fees are $270 for a team or $85 for individuals.

For more information regarding registration and sponsorship contact Kenneth Krys at [email protected], call 815-8401 or visit www.offthebeatentrack.ky.

More information on Facing Africa and NOMA can be found at www.facingafrica.org

Comments are closed.