It is the 10th year of the staging of the Cayman Intertrust Marathon, which runs this weekend. And it promises to be the biggest and best organised so far.
The winner could also set a course record, too, because it is likely to be Justin Grunewald, who shattered the old mark last year.
Grunewald was the predictable winner, beating defending champion Steve Speirs into second place by a distance.
Welshman Speirs had won it the previous two years, but was 21 minutes slower than the American. Grunewald hopes to be in Olympic contention by the time of the next Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
His time of 2 hours 36 minutes and 23 seconds totally eclipsed Scott Brittain’s mark set four years ago. Beth Schreader was the fastest woman for the fourth year running and was third overall.
Grunewald only really entered the race because his brother, Matt, lives here and works at Greenlight Re. “I had wanted to visit Matt for some time and it worked out that the race was over the time frame I would be down on the island,” Justin said after last year’s race.
Grunewald is 26 and lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
He comes back to defend his title on Sunday for the race start at 5am. “I am in decent shape. Not quite the shape I was in last year, but I have been trying to train specifically for the Cayman Marathon,” he said.
“I hope to run around my course record time from last year. My training has not been as consistent because I have been busy with school.
“The thing I look forward to most about running in Cayman again is the beautiful course and they great spectators and water stops along the way,” he said. “I haven’t raced for about four months. I have been doing shorter races such as miles and 5Ks. They have been going well and are easier to train for than some of the long stuff with less time to train.”
The Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon has become one of the most popular and respected 26.2 mile runs in the Caribbean and will attract 1,200 runners in total, quite an impressive figure considering it is only 10 years old.
Its popularity is not just because the two loop, 13.1-mile course from Breezes by the Bay on the waterfront, along South Sound to Prospect Point and back, is incredibly beautiful. Its overall attraction boils down to thorough organising and attention to detail, great water stops, masses of helpful volunteers and the general public coming out to cheer everyone on.
All organised by the Kelly Holding team of Rhonda Kelly, Laurie-Ann Holding and Bev Sinclair, they have built the Intertrust Marathon into a must-attend event. Overseas visitors come from all over the world. For instance, 40 members of Canada’s Diabetic Association ran for the first time last year.
They loved it so much that 100 are coming this time, an amazing increase and great boost in sports tourism dollars to the Cayman Islands.
Plenty of runners will be raising money for worthy causes, such as Derek Haines (Cancer Society and Health Authority) and Louane Martins Silva (Cayman Islands Humane Society).
Marius Acker is expected to regain his half marathon title after turning up late for the start last year, running the fastest time but finishing fourth.
Dominic Corbin hopes to finish in the top three in the half having won a number of shorter road runs and only beaten once, by Acker, in last week’s Out to Hell and Back 10K.
Back again is the Stay-Focused team from New York. Stay-Focused is a charity that helps disabled youngsters and young adults learn how to scuba dive and can boast in its membership two London Paralympics reps in Ryan Chalmers and Brian Siemann, who always race in the Cayman half marathon.
Chalmers did the 55-mile Push Across Cayman on Saturday, but it is Siemann who won their wheelchair race last year so it is a toss up who will win this time.
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.
It is also not too late to sign up for the free Intertrust Cayman Islands Kids Fun Run sponsored by Milo and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. Open to kids ages 5 to 11-years old. To register, log on to CaymanIslandsMarathon.com or call 623-8822 for more information.