It’s a long way to Tipperary from here or from Australia but Scott Brittain seems to have a strong affinity with the Irish because two weeks ago he won the annual St. Patrick’s Day 5k Irish Jog for the fourth consecutive time.
Beer from Down Under is his preferred tipple but there was plenty of Guinness downed in his honour as the 35-year-old speedster gets back to full fitness after nearly two years of niggling injury that has blighted his race scheduling.
The Irish Jog may be seen as more of a fun event than a serious competition but Cayman’s top runners always get involved. That’s why around 1,200 entered on 17 March, the most ever, making it the biggest sports related event on the local calendar.
It was the 19th annual staging of it and as always sponsored by Butterfield and Grand Cayman Beach Suites and run over the Britannia Golf Course, Grand Cayman Beach Suites.
All proceeds went to the Lighthouse School.
The 3.1 mile course followed the cart path around the Britannia golf course and villas.
Entry was just $10 and plenty got into the Irish theme in costume.
Mark Hogan was second, Derek Larner third and fourth was Gabe Rabess. Then came Tom Stephens, Conrad Proud, teenager Tristan von Kirchenheim, and then David Shibli.
First female home was Tiffany Cole, who is only 14. She finished ahead of top triathlete Caroline Cahill and another 14-year-old, Ashley McLean, was third.
Brittain was relieved with the win. Not one of his fastest Irish Jogs but he kept his record going and saved himself for a unique hat-trick because at the Caribbean Utilities Championships the following day he won the 3,000 metres against a tough field and then the 1500m on the Saturday, both at the Truman Bodden Sports Centre.
“My Irish Jog time was about 17 minutes 50 seconds from what I’ve been told,” Brittain said. “Knowing I had the CUC championship races on Friday and Saturday, I really didn’t want to push too hard. A comfortable gap opened up during the first mile and I just kept monitoring it during the rest of the race.
“I would say it is one of the slower times I’ve run over the last four years. A couple of years ago while preparing for Boston, the time was 16.40.”
Those three runs confirm that Brittain is back to his best, although he is not taking it for granted. “I’m feeling 100 per cent now but it helps that I am only running about three times a week. Giving the body time to recover between runs has helped me stay in one piece so far this year. The fitness consequently isn’t as good as it could be but at least I’m running injury free.
“It’s great that the field keeps getting bigger each year. There seemed to be a lot more younger athletes taking part too which is encouraging. I hope they all enjoyed it and keep participating and improving.”
Why does he think the Irish Jog keeps increasing in popularity? “It’s a good excuse to leave work on time!
“I think that it is held on St Patrick’s day itself helps. Participants can get some exercise in before celebrating later that night without feeling as guilty.
“It is a well promoted and organised event and the great random prizes after the race is a definite draw card. Because the course is 100 per cent traffic free, it is also more appealing to kids, families, stroller pushers and walkers.”