The running scene is more vibrant than ever at present and the ripple effect is that more youngsters are getting involved in not just road events but also middle-distance running on the track.
That was evident by the fact that two 14-year-old girls, Tiffany Cole and Ashley McLean, were first and third respectively amongst the hundreds of female entrants in the recent Irish Jog, split only by seasoned triathlete Caroline Cahill.
The overall standard amongst the men is increasing too, with regular runners like James Ogden, Mark Hogan, Conrad Proud, Derek Larner and Dave Shibli improving tremendously.
Added to that top performers like Russell Coleman, Tom Stephens and JP Hanekom are always amongst the contenders.
Even the older ones are still very competitive. Roger Davies finished the Irish Jog with his daughter Emily in a typically fast time and they were both in the duathlon on Sunday.
Veteran Rodger Yeomans is also a regular in these events too.
Scott Brittain remains Cayman’s fastest, undoubtedly, with Marius Acker a close second, but Hogan and Ogden are literally breathing down their necks now.
Brittain is well aware of that. “Hogan and Ogden have improved quite a bit over the last couple of years,” he said. “They are both very enthusiastic to keep improving too. Rather than just going out and running, from experience they are also now doing more specific training which has improved their results.
“It is also not just these two. I think the depth in Cayman distance running is better now than I have ever seen since I’ve been on the island.”
Brittain has just come out of a foggy period of niggling injuries that lasted nearly two years. His restoration of confidence and form was confirmed with three triumphs in as many days.
He won the Irish Jog for the fourth consecutive time, then beat a strong local field at the CUC Championships in the 3,000 metres and 1500m at the Truman Bodden Complex.
“The 3,000m was possibly the more satisfying as I lead most of the race. Marius took up most of the pace for the first 800m but then I went to the front and lead through to the end.
“The time wasn’t great again but most championship races turn into slower tactical races. The first kilometre was only 3 minutes 20 seconds but once at the front I was able to throw in a 3.05km and drop the other competitors by some distance. That allowed me to take the last couple of laps quite easy and save some energy for the next morning’s 1500m.
“The 1500m was very tactical due to the heat and strong headwind down the back straight. James went out quite hard and it took about 500m to get back in contact with him.
“I kept sitting in behind but his pace was slowing on lap three. Once Marius caught us with just over a lap to go I started my run for home and no one went with me. It turned out to be fairly comfortable victory but I was happy with the strong last lap I had run.
“I thought Marius was going to sit in behind me in the 3,000m but I could sense he was struggling to stay in contact which is why I put in the strong middle kilometre to open the gap. I also had the advantage of not racing the earlier 800m so I knew I was the freshest of the two of us.
“I felt quite relaxed through most of the 1500m. I’ve always been strong when it comes to fast finishes in track races so I felt confident if the race came down to a last lap dash.”
How much different is competing on the track to road racing? “It can be quite different. A lot of track races become tactical meaning times aren’t always fast. But road races can also be tactical.
“It just depends on the quality of the fields. Both disciplines you play to your strengths still. If you are not a strong finisher, you should be pushing the pace from early on and taking the sting out of the fast finishers’ kick.
“If you have a good kick, you are unlikely to go to the front early on and will be sitting in the pack ready to explode over the last couple of laps.
“I was generally pretty good tactically when I used to run more seriously on the track which is why some of my track personal bests are not as good as what they could have been.
“Mentally the longer track races can be a bit tougher if you are running by yourself against the clock but there were never many occasions I was in that position. I usually found myself ‘racing’ rather than ‘time trialling’.
“I’ve enjoyed the track races over the last month. We were hoping to get all the best guys to race together in the CUC championships and have really competitive races and it was great that this happened. I’d like to do more of these races in the future but the track season is now over for us so perhaps next year.”
Brittain has no concrete schedule for the next few months. “I will keep to running a few days a week with the other guys in case an event pops up but I don’t plan on doing any overseas marathons this year.”