As far as sporting challenges go, running a marathon or doing an Olympic distance triathlon is the ultimate physical test. Not for James Murray.
The 37-year-old accountant did last week’s triathlon as a warm-up for something a lot more taxing next week – a 100 mile run around Grand Cayman. Maybe the Canadian all-rounder has been in the sun for too long, but in conversation he still manages to sound sane. At least he has the good sense to call this run ‘A Crazy Idea’.
Murray has lived here for six years and did nothing sporty in all that time until recently when he was inspired after reading the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Now he runs ridiculous distances for ‘fun’,
It is on 26 November from Camana Bay in conjunction with the Cayman Islands Diabetes Association fun run over 5k from 7am. Murray will do the other 97 miles around Grand Cayman solo.
“It’ll be done at a very slow, moderate pace, around 13 minute miles and there will be stops for hydration and bathroom but nothing of a substantial nature,” says the intrepid runner. “I hope not to sleep. Maybe a cat nap for half an hour if things get really rough but the plan is to keep it going. I’m thinking about 27 hours, but it will depend upon weather and everything else.”
Murray works for InterTrust who sponsored the triathlon. He is thankful of having a girlfriend who enjoys long distance running too. “I have the most understanding girlfriend in the world, Lauren Christie. She joins in and does things like marathons too.” She did the New York Marathon last week.
So what inspired Murray to take on this seemingly absurd task? “I didn’t realise that people were doing these crazy, ultra-type events and sticking to just marathons and triathlons. When I realised that people were pushing their bodies for 24 hours and more straight it seemed to me it was a challenge I needed to pursue.”
So a year ago Murray went home to Toronto where he completed his first marathon with Lauren. In April, still focused on his 100 mile goal, Murray competed in the Marathon des Sable under the guidance of his coach Lisa Smith-Batchen, a former winner of the race. Smith-Batchen and Gerry Martinez will be joining Murray on the run.
The Marathon des Sables is considered the toughest run in the world. It is a six stage, 160 mile race across the Sahara desert in Morocco where temperatures range to over 100 degrees fahrenheit during the day to almost freezing at night. For the entirety of the race, runners have to carry everything that was needed including food, clothing, a medical kit, a sleeping bag and any other personal items for six tortuous days of punishment.
Two weeks after the Marathon des Sables, Murray went to South Africa, and with his blistered feet still recovering from his desert trek, completed the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon of 32 miles.
He is running for the Cayman Islands Diabetes Association and hopes to raise $25,000. “We’ve set ourselves a lofty target. Fundraising has just started so we’re hoping a lot will come in over the next couple of weeks.
“The triathlon was the first time I’d thrown it all together. I do some swimming and cycling on my own and obviously for a 100-mile run I have to run. It will take us more than one day to do it but the key is to keep myself in motion. As long as I keep moving forward I will get it done.
“I am a self proclaimed biggest sports fan I know. I love every sport. Growing up just outside of Toronto, in Peterborough, I had a lot of opportunities. I played a lot of basketball, soccer, football, rode, track, cross-country… you name it I’ve probably played it at some point.”
Well all those years of working different muscles will certainly be put to the test next week.