Crazy idea hits ground running


Running 100 miles may seem like a crazy idea to many, but to James Murray, it’s just crazy enough to work. 

He’s hoping it’ll work so well that he’s named his bid to run 100 miles on 26 November to raise money for the Cayman Islands Diabetes Association “A Crazy Idea” and is gathering supporters with every mile of his training. 

Murray launched his “A Crazy Idea” plans today, Wednesday, 3 August. 

He plans to run around the island, covering the first three miles or so as part of the Cayman Islands Diabetes Association Fun Run on 26 November and then completing the remaining 93 miles that day. 

He will be accompanied on his “crazy” run with an ultra runner from the United States, Lisa Smith-Batchen, who is currently providing him with online training. 

Murray, 37, says he hopes his run will help raise the profile of the Cayman Islands Marathon, which will be held the week after his 100-mile run. His employers, Intertrust, is one of the sponsors of the marathon. 

“I thought, what can we do to raise the profile of the Cayman Islands Marathon, help the community and raise money for charity at the same time?,” Murray said. And he came up with his 100-mile run idea. 

He’s been running long distances for about 18 months and when he first came up with the inkling of an idea to run 100 miles in one go, he wasn’t sure how to go about it. 

“I set my goal at 100 miles. That is what I wanted to do… I did not know how to do it when I first started and then I found Lisa Smith-Batchen online,” he said. 

Smith-Batchen is “an ultra-running legend”, he said. “She’s very inspiring. I started working with her about a year ago,” he added. She sends him a training schedule and nutrition tips every two weeks to ensure he’s ready for the challenge of his 100-mile run in November. 

He hopes his run will inspire people to get out of their comfort zone – to walk a little if they never walk, to go for a jog, or to even take part in the marathon, either to do the full run, a half marathon or part of a four-person relay run, on Sunday, 4 December.  

At the same time, he hopes his run will also raise awareness of the benefits of exercise to combat and control diabetes. 

“I am aware that in my office alone, there are three people who are diabetic. It’s quite common in Cayman,” he said, adding that he believed that more education on how to lead an active lifestyle could help combat the disease. 

His 100-mile route will begin in Camana Bay early in the morning of Saturday, 26 November, with the Cayman Islands Diabetes Association 5K (3.1 miles) Fun Run. Once he completes that run, he will continue running for another 93 miles to West Bay, back along Seven Mile Beach and onto East End and Kaibo, taking in the Mastic Trail and George Town.  

“I would like to run through every part of the island,” Murray said. 

Murray’s girlfriend Lauren Christie, who is helping him organise the run, said he didn’t expect diabetics or others looking for healthier lifestyles to follow his lead and run 100 miles, but that they hoped it would inspire people to take a half hour walk or just add a little more activity to their life. “James is running 100 miles, he’s not trying to get anyone else to do that. We’d just like to encourage people to be more active,” she said. 

She is also a runner and is currently in training for the New York Marathon in November. 

“I have to exercise with him. That’s how we spend time together,” she half-joked. 

Murray insists, however, that he doesn’t spend all his time exercising and training, saying he leads a balanced lifestyle – perhaps a few hours covering 20 miles, followed by brunch with friends. “It doesn’t dominate my life,” he said, but then went on to explain that he often gets up at 3am to start training and spends about eight hours on Saturdays running. 

“If I can find the time to do what I do, others can too,” he said. 

Murray is no stranger to crazy runs. In October 2010, he and his girlfriend completed their first marathon in Toronto, Canada, and in April this year, he completed the 26th Annual Marathon Des Sable, for which Smith-Batchen, a former winner of the race, also helped him train.  

The Marathon de Sables is a six-stage, 155-mile foot race across the Sahara desert which is completed over seven days. Stages one to three were approximately 23 miles each; stage four was a gruelling 51 miles; stage five was a full marathon (26.2 miles) and the final stage was an 11-mile run to the finish line. 

Temperatures ranged from 54 degrees Celsius during the day to near zero degrees at night, with competitors carrying all their food, sleeping and medical supplies on their backs. 

The 51-mile stage of that race is the farthest he’s run in a single day, he said. In Cayman, the most he has run was 43 miles over seven hours. 

He reckons it will take him about 24 hours to complete his 100-mile challenge. “It is all about perpetual forward motion. You don’t run like you would in a 5k or 10k, you don’t get to the point of exhaustion. You maintain a pace of, at best, about a nine-minute mile. I don’t expect to be anywhere close to that,” he said. 

Long distance running can be a lonely pursuit. Murray, however, is hoping others will keep him and Smith-Batchen company on their run and sponsors can “buy” miles and invite their staff to run along with the two runners for parts of the run. 

Sylvia Perry of the Cayman Islands Diabetes Association said: “Hopefully, James will be able to persuade a few others to run with him and Lisa part of the way… They will most probably be carrying signs, etc, advertising that they are running to raise funds for the Cayman Islands Diabetes Association.” 

Perry added that diabetics, as well as nondiabetics, should take 30 minutes of exercise that raises the heart rate at least five times a week.  

She had some words of advice for people who feel inspired by Murray’s effort to take some exercise. “Instead of taking the elevator, walk up the stairs, park a little distance away and walk the rest of the way. Prepare and eat healthy meals, use eating out as a treat, not an every day practice,” she said. 

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