Derek Larner may be in his late 40s but he is one of the best runners in the Cayman Islands.
The latest proof of the Englishman’s form came in a resounding victory in the Pirates Week 5K run. The first sporting event for the Cayman Islands’ national festival, Larner would finish first in a time of 18 minutes, nine seconds.
Larner, 47, beat out a field of 180 runners and states he is pleased with the victory and the extra publicity.
“I’m happy to win, it’s a great event that kicks off Pirates Week,” Larner said. “There was a strong wind on the way back. That affected me and everyone else. I get so much publicity but it’s good I got to win for once!”
Second place went to Jason Williams, 36, who finished in a time of 18.19. Third place went to promising road runner Chadwick Webster, 36, in 18.34. Webster needed an exciting sprint finish to hold off track star Tristan Von Kirchenheim, 17, whose time was 18.35.
The first woman home was Caroline Cahill, 40. Her time of 21.10, was good enough for 17th overall. On her heels were Suzanne Aquila, 44, in 21.19 and Arwen Lawson, 40 in 21.27. All made the trek from the George Town waterfront into South Sound and back, starting and finishing in front of Bayshore Mall.
The race was dominated by men as they claimed the first 16 spots. The rest of the top 10 saw Paul Schreiner, 34, in fifth at 18.54; Marlon Crowe, 22, in sixth at 19.09; Kevin Connolly, 22, in seventh at 19.13; Eric Johnson, 50, in eighth at 19.16; Christopher Eaton, 43, in ninth at 19.38 and Paul Tanguy, 34, in tenth at 19.47.
Connolly is a former youth basketball player who is making the transition to road running. The Savannah native states the switch has been interesting so far.
“Basketball and athletics are my sports and I started the running earlier this year,” Connolly said. “I want to keep at it. I didn’t do as good as I would like in this race. Derek was out front and the guys gave everyone a good run. But it was a good turnout and a good event with nice, cool weather.”
The 5K run saw a mix of all age groups. The youngest competitors were Allison Wilt, six, who placed 175th out of the 189 registered runners in 44.50 and Harrison Hew, nine, who placed 72nd in 25.12. The oldest runners were Carolyn Rockwell, 67, who placed 169th in 42.04 and Rodger Davies, 66, whose time of 23.07 placed him in 42nd place.
Age group winners were as follows: Kiara McLaughlin and Tahj Lewis (14 and under), Tiffany Cole and Von Kirchenheim (15-19), Emma Byrnes and Marlon Crowe (20s), Anna McCallister and Jason Williams (30s), Cahill and Larner (40s), Ann St. John and Eric Johnson (50s) and Sherry Berry and Davies (60s).
Ultimately, Larner states the abundance of young runners was good for him and the event.
“It’s all about development. They will overtake me (and the running scene) one day. The youngsters keep me fit and are pushing me.”