Cayman’s biggest sporting event is approaching but the number of volunteers looks like falling way short at this stage.
The Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon on Sunday 2 December is expected to attract around 1,200 runners so the organisers are searching for more volunteers to accommodate the increase, and help enhance the runners’ experience.
According to race director Rhonda Kelly of Kelly Holding, there are many ways that people can assist with this event, part proceeds of which go to the Cadet Corps and the Cancer Society.
Volunteers are needed for a variety of roles, including packet pick-up the day before the race to a slew of needs on race day including serving refreshments to the runners, back-up timing, relay shuttles, bag check in, or just cheering a tired runner on those last few yards.
“Our organisation of the marathon takes place year-round but the last two weeks before the race is when everything starts to come together and this is when we need the most help,” explained Kelly.
“We have actually had some of our volunteers take vacation from work so that they can assist us during the week leading up to the race, which we appreciate so much.
“We need help with things like packing the runners bags, making deliveries and collecting equipment and supplies for the race. Basically, if you have the time, we’ll give you something to do!”
A significant number of volunteers for the Intertrust Cayman Marathon come from the Cadet Corps parents who come out every year to support the event and their children. The rest are members of the community enjoying a fun and inspirational event.
“We feel honoured that so many volunteers come out year after year. The spirit and pride of our Caymanian community is truly felt by all of us on marathon morning,” says Kelly.
Phil Pace and Nancy Saur have been volunteers for the event since 2006 and 2009 respectively. The husband and wife team’s official duty is to distribute meals to all the volunteers that are working at the event, including the special constables, the 15 water stations and other road marshals.
However, over the years their roles have evolved tremendously and now Phil and Nancy do whatever needs to be done. Sandra and Theo Cuffy are another married couple who always turn out to help.
“We basically just fill in wherever there is a need,” says Saur. “The first time I decided to help out, I joined Phil in packaging and delivering food to the water stations and special constables.
“Then I helped with the fruit station. Since then, along with my original duties, I’ve also packed runners bags, done the setup and clean-up for volunteer meetings and packet pickup, medical logging, data entry, liaising with sponsors, merchandise sales at packet pickup and clean-up after the race. I even invited my mom down for an extended ‘vacation’ so she could also volunteer!”
Pace’s list of duties is just as long as his wife’s but his most recent role involves managing the turnaround area at Prospect Point Road, which is the part of the looped course where runners turn around to come back to the finish line and relay team members exchange their timing chips with their teammates.
Pace ensures that the area is set up correctly and that the teams are able to make their chip exchanges smoothly. He also represented the event at the Boston Marathon Expo in 2010, promoting the race and the island to thousands of runners.
Pace considers the Cayman Marathon as his own and loves the entire experience. “We bring a small town touch to our runners’ experience,” says Pace.
“We grow every year but we have not lost the individual touch, and we must never lose that individual touch. The Cayman Islands Marathon is the premier running event on the Cayman calendar.
“More people from overseas come here to participate than any other single Cayman event. Therefore, because we reach so many people, it is crucial we all serve as ambassadors and make a positive impact on the public’s perception of Cayman.”
There is no shortage of inspirational moments during the Marathon and Saur has the opportunity to witness a lot of them from her post in the medical tent which is located at the start/finish line.
“Last year, there was a lady from Canada who was doing her first marathon and her coach finished before her, so he went back in search of her and stayed with her until the very end, a whole eight hours after she started.
“That was very inspirational. I also remember one overseas visitor who had to visit the medical tent and she was concerned about her husband who was also running the race so I went out to the finish line to wait for him to cross. When he did, I then reunited them and that was a rewarding feeling.”
Saur says she and Phil have also transported one or two stragglers back to their hotel after the race because they missed the shuttle and learning about them has also been an interesting part of her marathon experience.
“I am proud to be part of the volunteer corps for the marathon,” says Saur.
“It is a lot of work, but it is such fulfilling work and work so appreciated by the runners and their families that you shouldn’t deprive yourself of that opportunity. You must experience it because it is one of the best feelings in the world!”
Eziethamae ‘Zeta’ Bodden is known throughout the community for her volunteering spirit so it is no surprise that she is one of the Cayman Islands Marathon’s longest-serving volunteers.
In fact, Zeta has been helping at the event since its inception in 2002. She and the members of the West Bay Community Council manage a water stop every year and Zeta also captures memories of the race for the organisers with both her digital and video cameras.
“I first got involved with the Cayman Marathon because my daughter was a member of the Cadet Corps,” explains Bodden. “She has long since graduated from the programme but now assists as a junior leader. The event is well-organised, it benefits the community and I have fun doing it, so I keep coming back every year.”
Bodden’s job as a volunteer requires that she come out at 4am on race day but she says it is worth it when she hears the comments from the runners.
“Over the years I’ve heard a lot of feedback but the comments all basically revolve around the same themes: you’re doing a great job, thank you for coming out so early and Cayman is the best. It feels good to know that I am giving back to my community and my efforts are appreciated.”
“There are so many ways that people can help make the Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon a success,” says Kelly. “We absolutely cannot do this without our volunteers, and they are the ones who make the runners’ race experience enjoyable and memorable.
“Every year without fail our runners give us positive feedback about the volunteers and compliment them on the great job that they do with so much enthusiasm, and so early in the morning at that! I encourage everyone to think about being a part of this amazing experience.”
The Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon is sponsored by Department of Tourism; Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports & Culture; Gatorade; Flowers Bottled Water; Digicel; Cayman National; Cayman First; Breezes By the Bay Restaurant; Kirk Freeport; 106.1 KISS FM; Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort, CayCompass.com; NCI Services; Dolphin Discovery; Conyers Dill & Pearman; MILO; Cayman Airways; FastSigns; RVC Rehab/BioFreeze; Bliss Living Yoga Cayman; Coppertone; Tropicana Tours; Quaker; CUC; RE/MAX Cayman Islands; KPMG; CayBrew Light; Smoothie King; Scotiabank; The Final Touch; Harneys; Coca-Cola; Cayman Imports Ltd.; Cost-U-Less; and KRyS Global.
Registration for the Cayman Islands Marathon, half-marathon and four-person relay is available on the Cayman Islands Marathon website. Participants can also do walk-in registration at the Kelly Holding office.
For more information about volunteering or registering for the Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon, email [email protected] or call Bev Sinclair on 946-8822.
A significant number of volunteers for the Intertrust Cayman Marathon come from the Cadet Corps parents who come out every year to support the event and their children.