The Cayman Marathon is on this Sunday and the women’s race promises to be exciting because defending champion Beth Schreader will be pushed all the way by Krissy Dooling, last year’s half-marathon women’s winner.
The two are friends but when it comes to capturing the main prize, their competitive edges will be tested all the way around the 26.2 mile course starting and finishing at Breezes by the Bay on the waterfront.
Schreader, as always, is as prepared as she possibly can be. “I think I’m in pretty good shape,” she says. “I’ve gotten in a decent amount of mileage and long runs but my speed is definitely slower than a couple of years ago. I didn’t do a fall goal marathon back in the US or Canada so I’m not quite sure what I’m capable of but I’m looking forward to finding out on Sunday.
“I have unfortunately had to miss every single local race since the Fidelity Two Mile Series back in September. For the last eight weeks I’ve spent one week here in Cayman and one week off island. As much as I love being able to travel, my schedule has been quite hectic and I’m ready for a nice break.
“I was disappointed to have missed the two Pirates Week races, the Breeze Fusion Run, the various 5kms and, most of all, James Murray’s 100 Mile Run to raise money for the Cayman Islands Diabetes Association. When I’ve been away on my trips I was able to get in plenty of running but my body feels a bit run down from shocking each week with cold weather, hot weather over and over.
“The most exciting thing about this year’s race is that Krissy is coming down to race the marathon. She’s such an incredible runner and it will be fantastic to see her again and run as much of the marathon together as possible. If anyone is in a position to win the marathon, it’s Krissy. She only lived here for six months last year but she set a record at almost every race she participated in.
“It was really unfortunate that she moved back to Canada so soon because she would have continued to smash records. She is definitely the biggest threat to me winning again but I will be happy and proud to see her do it. Of course, there is always the possibility that someone speedy from overseas is also coming down. There could be a wildcard no one knows about. That would make the race even more fun.
“The last three years I’ve run 3 hours 12 minutes, 3:08 and 3:10. I think I can run within that range again but more towards the slower end. Krissy and I are planning to run together for as long as possible and then we’ll see what happens.
“You never know what race day will bring, no matter how your preparations have gone. One of us might feel great or horrible early on and we’ll have to split up. Or we could help pull each other along the entire way and both have a strong finish. No matter what, it will be enjoyable to have someone to run with and I’m glad Krissy decided to make the trip back for the race.
“There have been a lot of changes in our little Cayman running group over the last year. Eight fast people have left since last fall so our numbers have dwindled. I definitely miss having everyone around to run with. We all got to become really good friends and its sad not to be able to meet up each week with a big group.
“However, a reunion is in the works for all of us next fall at the Berlin Marathon in September. Most of us are up in the air as to whether or not we’ll be able to attend, since its so far in the future, but we’ve registered so at least we have the option of going once we see what life is like closer to the race.”
Schreader absolutely loves every aspect of the Cayman Marathon. “The people really make the race. From the volunteers, to the crowd cheering at Breezes, to the other runners. It’s just such a supportive and energizing experience.
“I really like the fact that the race starts at 5am. Being able to complete the first loop before the sun comes up makes a huge difference. I also like that there are some out and back sections. Smaller races can be lonely since there aren’t always other runners around.
“On the Cayman course you get to see lots of other runners at these out and back sections. I love being able to cheer people on and see how my friends are doing. The most challenging part is the heat. Even with the early start the sun eventually rises and starts to take its toll. It’s not unbearable and the water stations do an excellent job of providing plenty of ice cold water to keep participants cool. However, ideal racing temperatures are around 40-50 degrees and we’ll never see that weather in Cayman.
“I loved all the water stations last year. The volunteers are so enthusiastic and go above and beyond to make sure you get what you need. It’s really difficult to pick what my favourite water stations were but I’d have to say I really liked the KPMG station, because my co-workers really gave me a good boost, and the station at the corner of Hospital Road, because it’s the last one before the end of the race.”