Dolphin prize justified the pain

The Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon always attracts plenty of overseas visitors and one who especially enjoyed it was Vicky Barrett who won a prize to swim with the dolphins here. Quite apt really because she was celebrating her tenth anniversary with husband Jon and her birthday too.

But Vicky almost didn’t make the trip because injury threatened to put the mockers on it completely. She intended to run the marathon but instead had to settle for the 13.1 mile half.

Barrett’s injury woes started in the summer. “I ran a marathon in late August in Guernsey, Channel Islands, which I came second in a time of 3 hours 16 minutes, about four minutes slower than my best marathon time,” she says. “I had a niggle in my left knee which I stupidly ignored. I did a lot of races through the summer including a 5k in Florida to celebrate my 40th which was in July and again came second in that.

“Following a half marathon in London in October, which I ran in 1 hour 32 minutes, finished limping and the injury got worse from there. The injury – a typical over-use injury is Iliotibial Band Syndrome. This is aggravated by the fact that I have leg length discrepancy.

“In the eight weeks leading up to Cayman, I had physiotherapy and even tried acupuncture, but I could not run without severe pain and I limped even when walking. I was terribly depressed by it and although not a keen swimmer, I started swimming three to four times a week to try and keep my fitness levels up and just about managed to teach the aerobic and conditioning classes which is part of my job.

“There was no way I could put the necessary pre-marathon miles in. WIth just two weeks to go I thought I would have to cancel the trip altogether. However just 10 days before I managed a pain-free run and the consultant doctor felt a half marathon would not put me at risk of putting myself out with injury long term but the marathon would be too big a risk. I was hugely disappointed.

“We planned our Cayman trip following meeting the marathon organisers at the Boston Marathon Expo eight months ago. But having been so close to not being able to run at all I was happy that I could at least participate in the half. Although of course not being 100 per cent recovered I did not run in a time I would be particularly pleased with. I very much felt I was participating rather than competing as such.

“I managed to beat my husband, he finished in 1.55. He is not so keen in running in such heat. And he often competes in triathlons. Running is his least enjoyed discipline.

“As for next year, I would love to come back and compete in the full marathon. This is still something I want to do very much. Cayman was due to be my tenth marathon to celebrate my 40th year and six years of running.

“However we saved hard for our trip and finances dictate whether I could come again next year. Jon has agreed that just I would come over to keep costs down. I am hoping to contact some companies that we have both here in Jersey and in Cayman and ask if they would kindly sponsor me in return for me advertising them on my run shirt during my racing year next year.

“I already have London and Berlin marathon lined up, plus various other races in the Channel Islands and the UK. So the advertising would be quite well spread. If I could get some funding towards my flights, it would pretty much ensure my return. I want to be on the podium next year for the full marathon! I had never run in Cayman, or indeed been there. I did run a couple of times after the half, and boy is it hot!

“But I love the heat. Today it is very wet and windy and cold here in Jersey. I had never however run in the dark before and found that quite dis-orientating during the half. Again another reason why I want to run the full marathon. The second loop will be like a different race as I will be able to see more of your beautiful island.

“The dolphin experience was amazing. For my 40th birthday it was a dream for me to swim with dolphins. I couldn’t believe that was my prize. It was truly brilliant and I was lucky enough to be cheek to cheek and indeed kiss the dolphin and get a ride belly to belly.”

Barrett absolutely loved her visit here. “So many things. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. I love the weather, the fact you drive on the same side of the road as us. The beautiful food too. I do not eat meat and ate in Cayman the most delicious fish I have ever had.

“If I can come back again next year I would love to stay at the Marriott again as that works so well with the race and on your lush Seven Mile Beach which I loved walking along. And what I call see-through-sea, where you can swim amongst and see the pretty fish.

“We have been in Jersey for five years. Originally I lived in Epsom, Surrey which is where my family still are. We moved to Jersey as we were at the time both bank managers for HSBC. Jon is still with HSBC.

“After 20 years in the bank I resigned as I have set up a children’s fitness business here. I am a qualified fitness instructor and I felt there was a need to get the young children more active and away from the sofa and computer games. I represented Jersey in the Island Games 2009 in the 10,000 metres, which was my first ever track race. I hope to make the Jersey team for the half marathon in 2013.

“Currently I have about 100 children doing an hour exercise after school in a Viks Fit Kids class which is run by myself or one of my small team. Many children see me out running and I always take my trophies in to show them in our sessions. I teach them you are never too young or too old to enjoy exercise.”

Barrett is a mother of two. “My daughter Jessie is 12 and has represented the Island for netball and running and plays in her school netball, football and hockey teams. My son Joseph is seven and is a yellow belt in karate. Sometimes it is hard to balance being a mum, running a business and training, but I love running so much somehow I fit it all in.”

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