When the Cayman Intertrust Marathon is run on Sunday there will be plenty of distinctive fluorescent orange vests worn by members of the Wednesday Night Running Club.
As it says on the tin, they meet every Wednesday night at 6pm outside the old World Gym on Lawrence Boulevard, opposite Al La Kebab. Started by Englishman Tony Watts four years ago, the club has runners of all abilities participating every week.
“It’s hard to say how many WNRC members are in the marathon,” said Watts. “We don’t have a formal paid membership just a gang of people that keep meeting up at the same place at the same time and going for a run.
“I bet the majority of people in the half or full have been running with us a few times at some point in the last four years. Even Beth Schreader (the women’s champ) came out a couple of years ago for a slow jog and a chat.
“I’m not sure about individual expectations but for most people getting round the full in one piece with no injuries should be the fall back goal, then there’s the realistic time that you’d be pleased with – the one you tell your friends you’re aiming at – then theirs the secret ‘I wonder’ time that you’re really hoping for if it turns out to be your day.”
Chris Sutton is a Wednesday Night Running Club member and a regular runner, cyclist and triathlon contestant, to a level belying his 59 years. Sutton celebrates his 60th on Sunday when he does the half marathon.
He only did it last year for the first time.
At the Cayman Islands Triathlon three weeks ago Sutton came ninth overall in the Olympic distance, improving his time by six minutes. “I won the very old man’s category,” he joked.
His birthday celebrations will involved “getting on a plane and going skiing”.
He claims that he is motivated to do all the sporting events “to feel younger than I am and making old man noises when I get out of a chair”.
Sutton operates Livingstone, a construction management company. His goals for next year? “Not to go slower. Every year I try to improve my times. Fingers crossed for something better than 1 hour 42 minutes on Sunday.”
Matthew Taber is full of admiration for Sutton. He said: “If I’ve got half as much energy and speed on a bike when I’m 50 let alone Chris’s age I’ll be chuffed. The man’s a machine. Shame he is so hard on his equipment though!”
Steve Abbott is one of Cayman’s top cyclists. He knows Sutton well. “Not many people will know this but Chris was supposed to be the first person I would meet, back in January 2004, as I arrived in Cayman for the first ever time,” he said. Button Sutton was not at the airport.
“The next day, with reasons only he knows of, I finally got to meet the man who was to be my new boss. What an introduction to ‘Island time’.
“July 2004 brought change in Chris’s working life and I would not meet him again until May 2008 when, as competitors in the same bike race, he taught me a tough lesson about how to ride and race a bike.
“In that, my first race I finished just about last, quite some distance behind Chris and the other athletes that day. Since then, I have witnessed him setting personal bests on the bike and continues setting himself new goals each year. The only constant was his age and the skilled art of getting his picture in the paper each week!
“In his 60th year, he has proved to me that with a lot of dedication and hard work, it is possible to find the correct home-work life balance which enables you to reach your goals.
“I was there when he produced an absolutely brilliant triathlon result this month, beating many guys half his age.
“No doubt this upward trajectory shall continue into the next decade. I am, in no doubt, going to continue nagging him for all sorts of advice and of course I will never forget to remind him of that day he left me stranded at the airport!
“How could I forget the great support he gave the Cayman Islands Cycling Association whilst I was president. Awesome bloke. Chris, I hope you have a fantastic birthday and a wonderful Christmas.”