Rankin limbers up for worlds

Cayman’s world class middle distance runner Jon Rankin was in action in Trinidad last week and did well against a classy field.

California-based Rankin came eighth in his first major competition of the year at the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association Cross Country Championships in Queen’s Park, Savannah.

Rankin’s time was 24 minutes 9.5 seconds in the eight kilometre race.

It was won by Robert Cheseret of the United States in 23:42.7 with Canada’s Cameron Levins second in 23:45.8 and Colin Leak of the US third in 23:50.7.

Rankin was the fastest Caribbean competitor with Cleveland Forde of Guyana eleventh and Zepherinus Joseph of St. Lucia twelfth.

Rankin ran for the United States until last year when he decided to switch and represent the Cayman Islands.

He said: “I’ve decided to continue to compete in the cross country season as part of my preparation for the outdoor track and field. The distances of eight kilometres and 12 kilometres – which are typical race distances for men for cross country competitions – are much longer than the middle distance events of 800 metres, 1500 metres and one mile that are my primary events on the track. I enjoy doing cross country to improve my conditioning and mental toughness as the outdoor track season draws near.

“The conditions in Trinidad were slightly humid and warm. It did begin to rain prior to the start of the senior men’s 8km race, but it subsided about half way through the race.

“I was very satisfied with my performance. It was a great honour to represent my home so well. My goal was a top-10 finish and I achieved that. I’ve gained a lot of confidence from this performance and I’m excited for my next competition, the World Cross Country Championships on 20 March in Punta Umbria, Spain.”

His schedule leading up to the World Cross Country Championships will primarily entail the same type of training that he did leading up to the NACAC Cross Country Championships. The difference will be more days of training at a greater intensity.

“These championships are extremely competitive. I’ll have to make sure I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in to produce a great result. My expectation is a top 50 finish. I would love to say top 10, but it’s really not as simple as being a really good runner.

“Everything will have to go right that day and I’ll have to have a lot of luck in on my side. It’s a race where the best distance runners from every country in the world show up to run the same distance on terrain that’s hilly, muddy and tough.

“It’s a competition that I’m not taking very lightly because both the conditions and the level of competition makes it a difficult competition to guarantee a good result at.

“If I run smart, and if I’m patient I believe I’ll have a great day and the result will be one that everyone at home in Cayman and in the Caribbean will be very pleased with.”