Speirs is in Jingle Bell mood now

Steve Speirs was hoping to be the champion at the Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon for the third year running but was resigned not to doing that a few days before.

That’s because the Welshman who lives in Virginia heard that a new race favourite had just entered. American Justin Grunewald, 25, confirmed his potential by breaking the course record in 2 minutes 36 minutes and 23 seconds, 20 minutes faster than Speirs and five minutes faster than the previous record.

Nevertheless, the 44-year-old web designer had another fabulous time and with wife Ally who ran her usual half marathon, extended their visit here to last until this weekend.

“The plan was to run my own race and the first half went to plan,” Speirs said. “I stuck with it in the second half and I was happy with my second place. I was 2:59 two years ago and 2:52 last year so I’m really happy with 2:57 this time. The 2011 was a lot tougher than my previous two Cayman Marathons. It didn’t feel especially hot, but I guess the wind made marathon racing more difficult this year. I managed to hit goal pace for the first half, but to be honest it was a bit more of an effort than it should have been, which also made for a challenging second half of course. I kinda knew that a race win was out of the question, but it didn’t affect my game plan. I still had a lot of fun doing it. I had a lot of fun doing it. You’ll probably see all the smiles in the photographs.”

Speirs also ran the first leg of the British Bulldogs team that won the event. Other team members were David Shibli, Tom Gammage and Derek Larner.

Speirs is enjoying ultra-distance running much more now. “I’m getting older so the faster, shorter stuff is getting more difficult. It’s just nice to go out and run in something that is more like an event than a race. The atmosphere and camaraderie is nice too. I Twitter and Facebook and do all the online social media stuff and made a lot of good friends through it. I’ll definitely be back next year. The dragon will be back!”

Ally said: “For me the half marathon was hot and windy. Last year I ran a 2:01, the first year a 2:13 and I was 2:07 this year. It wasn’t close to my personal record but I’ll take it. I had a great time, loved all the water stops. This is definitely my favourite half marathon, that’s why we keep coming back. If anyone wants to give me a job here, I’m a nurse and will happily come down and live here. Steve works from home so he can come with me and our daughter is a teacher so she could come too!”

Once again the Speirs thoroughly enjoyed themselves here. Steve said; “There were no negatives. Highlights were meeting up with friends pre and post-race, all the great water stops, locals cheering for me on the side of the roads – some even knowing my name from recognising me in the newspaper articles – running with British Bulldog No.2 David Shibli on his relay leg, seeing and cheering for Justin Grunewald as he made his way back from Prospect Point, and of course rounding the last corner in George Town where the finish line finally comes into sight.

“Being a part of the British Bulldogs’ relay victory was very satisfying. All of the lads on the team ran a very solid race and it was great to be able to kick off the race by running relay leg number one.

“I’m sure the British Bulldogs can run faster, so if we’re able to line up as a team next year and depending on the competition, we’d probably be in with a shot of defending the title. Not bad for four guys with a combined age of 182!

“Ally enjoyed the race, even though this year she found it particularly challenging with the wind and the heat. Highlights – support on the course (friendly locals) and the water stops are fantastic. Also something special about running in the dark and seeing Christmas lights on the course.

“We really enjoy staying at The Reef in East End. It’s so relaxing and a great venue to get away from it all. We’ve enjoyed doing the usual touristy things, like trips to Camana Bay, George Town, Rum Point, but have also enjoyed hanging out at the beach and pool and dining out at various eateries.

“I’m planning to run the Jingle Bell 5K on Sunday. Aside from the fact that I really enjoy racing, we’ve always missed the event in previous years. This year it will be fun to take part, support a good cause and experience more of the local running scene. We’ve made many good friends over the years and it will be a good excuse for a final meet-up before heading back to Virginia.”

for full results, go to www.caymanislandsmarathon.com

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