After the exertions of the Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon, it was nice for former champ Steve Speirs to unwind a week later in the Jingle Bell run.
Speirs won the local marathon in 2009 and the following year but conceded to super-fast Justin Grunewald three weeks ago. But Grunewald was nowhere to be seen at the Jingle Bell 5k and 10k. He must have heard of the mysterious late entry who had come in with his entourage of reindeers and sleigh.
Speirs was confident of victory – until he saw a certain character in a red suit who had entered only as Mr Claus.
“Santa was definitely the guy to keep an eye on at the start line,” Speirs said, visibly shaking. “I managed to get ahead early on and thankfully was able to hold him off. I think the secret was not to look back and check where he was.”
Despite the Santa scare, Speirs and wife Ally, who had run the half marathon the previous week, thoroughly enjoyed the Jingle Bell event. So too did over 200 others that included Speirs British Bulldog mates who won the Cayman Marathon team event. They were Derek Larner, David Shibli and Tom Gammage. Derek Haines, who raised over $35,000 for charity in the marathon, also did the Jingle Bell, as did a host of other weekend warriors. Neil Ainscow won the 10k, and in the women’s races, the champs were Holly ‘And the Ivy’ Thomas (5k) and Megan Kounnas (10k).
Steve said: “The Jingle Bell run was a lot of fun, and a great way to end our holiday. The last couple of years we’ve had to head back mid-week to the States, so this time we made sure we’d be around for the race.
“The 5k was probably all my legs could handle so soon after the marathon. With a planned 50k trail race lined up the following week, I also didn’t want to risk a silly injury.
“It was nice to just chill out and relax after the marathon. We hung out at The Reef Resort for a few days (great hosts by the way), visited one of our favourite spots on the island – Rum Point – a couple of times, did a submarine night dive, took in the Parade of Lights at Camana Bay and generally just did our own thing.”
“We’ll definitely be back for the marathon next year, but there’s also been talk about the Cross Island Relay in February. The biggest obstacle would be swinging time off work, so we’ll have to see what happens.”
Ally said: “Jingle bell run was fantastic. Great friendly bunch of runners and it was nice to hear people cheering for us by name. We only did the 5k because I don’t run well in the heat.”
The entry fee included a t-shirt and delightful breakfast at Tiki Beach where an auction was conducted by Santa (Len Layman) and Vicki Wheaton to help raise funds for the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre.