The To Hell and Back 10k is widely recognised as one of the tougher events on the Cayman Islands running calendar. However, to run the event barefoot seems to add unnecessary sadism to an already tough event. Yet Chadwick Webster not only ran the event barefoot, but managed to take the win as well. Webster also ran a fast half marathon on Sunday in 1 hour 25 minutes and 4 seconds, finishing third behind winner Jason Saunders and Abby Anderson.
According to event organiser Jerry Harper, Webster came to him before the race and admitted that in his haste to make it to the start on time he had left his bag with his running shoes at home. However, Webster has a history as a barefoot runner, even though it is not something he has been training for recently.
Many years ago, he was one of a group of youngsters known as the Barefoot Brigade, who under the guidance of coach Harper set the region ablaze with their very fast distance running times, all while running barefoot.
Undeterred by the challenge, Webster took his place on the start line among some 140 other competitors, all of whom were wearing shoes, as the 10 kilometre route would take place on tar roads all the way.
Starting fast, Webster moved into the lead and was the first runner to Hell, where runners were spurred on to faster times by the presence of the devil, complete with pitchfork. Fortunately the turnaround also featured a water point for those who needed to keep their cool so close to Hell. He was never troubled at all, crossing the finish line at Tiki Beach in 39 minutes 1 second, well clear of the competition.
He was followed home by Richard Williams, a visitor from Colorado, who seemed unperturbed by the warmer weather, while Derek Larner extended his recent run of podium finishes, taking third place. Conrad Proud and Ray Welds rounded out the top five.
Sara Ellis, a returning competitor from Newark, was the first lady home in a time of 41:58, with Lisa Picton taking second and Caroline Cahill third.
The awards ceremony took place after runners had a hard earned breakfast at Tiki Beach. In addition to the overall performance awards, there were also awards for the fastest male and female finishers in each age group, as well as awards for determination and effort presented to Karen Bennett and Guy DeCou.
The event boasted a strong contingent of visiting runners, with runners from Cornwall,Guernsey, Alberta, Florida, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Minnesota, Colorado, Michigan, Delaware, Illinois and Texas taking part.
“The Phoenix Athletic Club, organiser of the event, thanks Krys Global and Grace products,sponsors of the activity, for their support. Also thanks to the Pirates Week Committee, the RCIPS, Red Cross, donors of prizes, Ace Screen Print, volunteers, the devil, and event participants,” said Coach Harper.
The Phoenix Athletic Club is also responsible for one of the more popular events on the local running calendar, the Dashing through the sand run/walk, which will take place on Monday 26 December along Seven Mile Beach.