Acker sets off into the bush

The Off The Beaten Track road race on Sunday will once again pit many of Cayman’s best runners against each other in a team format – only this time the terrain is not that straightforward.

It is just a few weeks since the British Bulldogs overcame the stiff challenge of the suitably named Beat the Brits in the Fidelity-sponsored Cross Island Relay and with three of that winning team in this one, they look likely to get the title this weekend over the 50km distance in the Off The Beaten Track race.

This ultra-marathon is designed to reflect the tortuous race run every year in the hot sands of Morocco – the Marathon des Sables – only the Cayman route is over beaches, dyke roads and back streets. Sponsor is Ken Krys, CEO of his finance company Krys Global. He is a long-standing marathon enthusiast who ran the excruciating Marathon des Sables in 2009 and the Antarctic Ice Marathon two months ago.

The Marathon des Sables is considered the world’s toughest road race, stretching over 240km over six days in burning hot day-time temperatures.

Acker is Cayman’s top triathlete, holds the record for the Cayman Half Marathon and is the second-fastest middle distance runner in the Cayman Islands behind Scott Brittain who has decided not to run for his company UBS this time although he was in their team for the Cross Island Relay. Nevertheless, UBS will enter a couple of teams.

Acker will run the first leg, then it’s James Ogden, followed by Ray Welds, Mark Hogan, Conrad Proud and Mike McDonald. They are all accomplished runners so barring a disaster, look certain to coast home and beat last year’s winning time.

Acker likes the unusual appeal of Off The Beaten Track. He said: “Our team should be very competitive. Running off road is something we don’t often do here and also the team part of the race makes the race exciting.”

Last year 18 teams and two individuals competed in the inaugural event which started and finished at Public Beach. Indications are there are plenty more competing this time round.

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 the course in four hours and 41 minutes.

All proceeds from the race will again be donated to Facing Africa – a charity dedicated to helping children in Nigeria and Ethiopia who suffer from a disease, NOMA.

NOMA 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%. Those who do survive suffer from immense distress and social isolation as a result of their facial deformities.

The event is supported by 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.

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