To Hell and Back! Pirates Week 2012 is history and this year’s run of the ten-kilometre race through the devil’s domain was an epic.
A record number of participants – 183 – completed the course and Marius Acker’s clocking of 34 minutes and 19 seconds was the fastest ever over this route.
Spurred on by the Devil himself, aka Ivan Farrington, the first nine finishers bettered the 40 minute barrier.
Sara Ellis returned from Ohio and for the third straight year led all the female entrants, ending up twelfth overall in 40:16.
Acker and this year’s middle distance phenomenon Dominic Corbin set the early pace and were the leaders at the turnaround at the Devil’s Hangout in West Bay, with Acker stepping it up as they headed back down Town Hall Road and the reversal of the route.
By the time he crossed the Four Way Stop, Acker had opened up a gap which increased steadily all the way to Tiki Beach.
Corbin, 23, taking part in his first competition at this distance following a string of victories at two miles and five kilometres, ran a strong race for runner-up honours in 35:09. He had won about 10 races since September and even won a 5k the day before the Hell run.
David Walker’s 36:15 firmly reestablished his return as a top performer in the distance wars.
Last year’s winner, Chadwick Webster, continued his high-placing efforts at 38:09, while Neal Ainscow gave notice that he will be a contender in upcoming events, with a commendable 38:32 for fifth.
Others in the top ten were Neal Coleman (38:39), Christophe Alexandre (39:14), Conrad Proud (39:47), Leon Barracks (39:54) and Mike McDonald (40:03).
For the women, following the three-peat winner to round out the quickest five performances in this division were Beth Schreader (41:08), Julie-Anne Pearson (43:30), Laura Clingerman-Knox (43:51) and Helki Weber (45:45).
There were no female entries in the 14 and under and 15-19 groups.
Awards for fastest finishes by age were received by Dominic Dyer (14 and under), Pablo Brito (15-19), Rebecca Turner/Leon Barracks(20-29), Laura Clingerman-Knox/Chadwick Webster (30-39), Jennifer Coleman/Tom Gammage (40-49), Laura Copeland/Eamon McErlean (50-59), Debbie Ellis/ Roger Davies (60+).
The overseas visitors came from as far afield as British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Texas, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Massachusetts.
A post-event breakfast at the Tiki Beach Restaurant went down well while awards were presented by a representative of Krys Global, main sponsor of the activity.
Phoenix Athletic Club, organisers of the action, thanked all sponsors, donors of prizes, officials, volunteers, competitors and supporters for their contributions to this ever-popular experience. It was also nice to see coach Jerry Harper back after illness conducting procedures.
Acker said: “The run went exactly as I thought it would play out with Dom and Dave sticking with me for almost half the race. I was making the pace all the way and could hear in Dom and Dave’s breathing that they were pushing it from the start.
“Dave dropped back from the leading pack just before Hell at around 4k. Dom dropped off the pace around the 7k mark and from there on I was on my own.
“The distance suits an endurance athlete more and I thought that Dom would be struggling after 5k as that is the distance he is used to racing. Endurance is not really put to the test over 5k and this is one of only three run races in Cayman over 5k.”
Acker, 42, was pleased with his time. “I’ve won this race in 2006 and in 2008 with a 36:29 and this year I managed to set a new course record in 34:19.
This time is my quickest 10k on island to date, my best Cayman 10K Triathlon run two weeks ago of 36:16, gave me a lot of confidence going into this race.
“Sunday’s time was not my personal best ever. I ran 33.30 last year in Washington DC but it was my best Caribbean 10k.
“When I opened the gap I never looked back, I focused on keeping the pace. There was about 10 runners under 40 minutes so Cayman distance running is the best it’s been in a long time and several others also ran their personal best times.”
Acker and Corbin face each other again in the Cayman Islands Intertrust Half Marathon on 2 December. In the meantime Acker is swimming as part of recovery after Sunday’s race and will continue to do so up until the race. A couple of shorter runs will be sufficient to keep him in shape.
Corbin said: “It was tough but overall the race went well. I definitely need to do more training for the longer distances.
“I was pleased with my time, as it was my first 10k. I had no idea what kind of time I’d run, so finishing sub-36 made finishing second feel not much but a little better.
“It felt tactical. I had a few last minute tips from Craig Noble about how to race but obviously Marius’s tactics worked.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed at losing my unbeaten record but I gave the run my all and now it’s motivated me to start training seriously.
“Marius ran a great race and the better runner won on the day. Running the 10k has built up my confidence for the half marathon. I still think top three is achievable. I’m most looking forward to seeing how much I beat my previous time by.”