Beth Schreader is the undisputed queen of Cayman Islands distance running. That was confirmed last week when she won the women’s race in the Intertrust Cayman Marathon for the fourth consecutive year.
She ran it in 3 hours 14 minutes 28 seconds to take third place overall behind winner Justin Grunewald and Steve Speirs. Although Schreader, 31, looked comfortable all the way through the 26.2 mile race and was no where near her personal time, she never took being the fastest female for granted.
“Tackling a marathon is never comfortable but I felt pretty good for the majority of the race,” she said. “Marathon running is all about patience. You can’t really breathe a sigh of relief until you get to mile 20 or so.
“If I still feel pretty good at mile 20, then I start to relax a bit and gain more confidence that I’ll finish at the same pace I’ve been running at. When I hit the last turnaround at Prospect Point, my calves were tighter than I would have liked but other than that I still felt good.
“I also took note of the time and then, since it’s an out and back section, I was able to calculate how much of a lead I had on the next female runner, who turned out to be Caroline Cahill, who has been running exceptionally well this year.
“At this point, my lead was about eight minutes and there was less than 10k to go so I knew that unless something drastic happened, she wouldn’t be able to catch me. I try not to take running too seriously. It’s great to push and challenge yourself but I really try to always have fun no matter what and enjoy myself.”
Krissy Dooling won the women’s half marathon last year, came from Canada for the full marathon was expected to give Schreader a close race. “Krissy and I started off together as planned and things went pretty smoothly during the first leg out to Prospect Point. Once we got back out to South Sound Road I noticed she was breathing pretty heavily for us only being at mile eight or so.
“It is extremely difficult to train in cold, dry weather and race in hot, humid weather. Unfortunately, the conditions got to Krissy around mile 10 when we made the turn up Walkers Road. The same thing happened at the same point in the race in 2009 when Katherine Jones (a 2:57 runner) from the UK was here for the race. I slowed down so Krissy and I could continue running together. We hadn’t been running at a pace to break the record and the deficit was too big at this point for my fitness level to try to go for it now, so the ultimate finishing time wasn’t really my concern.
“I had hoped we could have at least have gone through the half together but when other runners who were racing the half started to catch up to us, my ego took over and I sped back up to race pace. Krissy is an incredibly tough competitor to have continued on and finished the race when she was having a bad day. We’ve all been there and it’s not a fun experience. I suspect that had we run in colder weather conditions, the outcome would have been a lot different.
“I didn’t have any pains, aches or side stitches during the race but I wouldn’t say it was comfortable or easy. From grinding through hard weeks of training and having the experience of now completing 17 marathons, I have a fairly good grasp on where the discomfort threshold is that I can run at that isn’t going to result in a blow-up. Typically, at least once per marathon, I’ll get a slight tingling sensation in my feet.
“I know when this happens that all I need to do is wiggle my ankles and toes around so every time I take a step, I’ll do that before my foot hits the ground. Apart from that, I didn’t have any uncomfortable moments that caused me to think I wouldn’t make it to the end.
“Hands down, the highlight for me this year was having a runner like Justin Grunewald take part in the race. It is really exciting that an Olympic Trials Qualifier ran the marathon here. I hope this brings even more attention to the event and that his participation attracts even more runners of his calibre next year.
“I’d love to see some fast women come to Cayman for the marathon. Although my finishing times are better than the average person, they are not even close to the level of what Olympic Trials Qualifiers can run. The minimum standard for women is a sub 2:46. I can only dream of running 26 miles at that pace. It would be amazing to have women capable of a time like that run the Cayman Marathon.”
Schreader praised the volunteers, water stations and crowds which made it as fun as it usually is. She spoke with a lot of participants after the race, both visitors and residents, who ran the race for the first time this year. “They all were overwhelmed and impressed with how incredible the support was. One of the great things about a small race is that the sense of community really shines through.”
Schreader feels the organisers, Kelly Holding, do an excellent job of executing the marathon and each year it gets better and better. She has been training for marathon after marathon for a few years now. “I keep trying to take a break but then another one pops up that I just have to do. I will likely run Boston again in April. I wasn’t going to but this will be my fifth in a row, which is a nice milestone to achieve.
“After that, I’ll see if the Cayman Running Reunion at the Berlin Marathon in September will work out logistically. Next thing you know it will be December again time for another Cayman Marathon.”