Bill Fleury managed the Cayman Islands Intertrust Marathon in a much better time than he intended for the gruelling 26,2 mile race and got tantalizingly close to a milestone time that will probably see him go for it next year.
“I expected to do it in 4 hours 25 minutes, so I’m very thankful for my 4:04,” Fleury said. “I was trying to run inside 4 hours – everyone is telling me to round it down to 4 hours though, so I’m taking that advice.”
Last year he did the half and was inspired to go for the two loop course this time, his first full marathon.
“Organisation of the event was flawless again and the anticipation at the starting line this year was more memorable for me than last year because I was running the full,” he said.
“Not detracting from anyone else’s achievement, but to myself I was thinking: ‘Here I am surrounded by 1,000 runners, but even among those only 130 of us are setting out on the full distance’.
“As unappealing as it sounds to most people to be standing at a run start at 4:45am with 26 miles ahead, you really can’t help but be happy to be alive at that point – no way to explain it. The volunteers were amazing – thanks to all of them, and again to the organisers for putting on a great event.”
Fleury, 46, reckons he often got the comments about how “insane” it is and “why would you want to do it?” but has no regrets.
One of the reasons he preferred to do the Cayman Marathon on 2 December is that besides the convenience and cost savings, the course actually goes past his house four times.
“My wife and daughter had kindly offered to come out to cheer and pass me sunglasses at the carefully-estimated times of 6:30 and 7:20 near South Sound Cemetery and India water station.” But he ran the first leg a little too fast and they simply missed him on the third and fourth times.
Surprisingly for someone whose training went well, he had misgivings just before the event.
“My lowest point mentally was both days before the run, when you are in ‘taper’ mode, meaning essentially you are supposed to kick your feet up, read a book, watch TV and sip cool water – no running.
“Most people say they would prefer this part of training. I did my prescribed two mile run each of the two days before and honestly had difficulty completing them both times.
“This did not put me in a confident frame of mind. Much to my surprise though – and again I can’t explain it – instead of feeling ill and heavy-footed on race day, I was actually fine and felt like running, so I was very relieved and celebrated it on course by going a little bit too fast.
“I had a very nice first 23 miles followed by a challenging last three, where I started melting down and couldn’t run steadily no matter how hard I tried.
“I calculated I lost my chance at 4 hours during mile 25 ! Still I’m pretty happy.
Gave it my best shot and it went better than I could have expected.”
Well at least he enjoyed his can of beer at the end.
“Next on the calendar for me will be the Cross Island Relay on 3 February, where I’m hoping to lower the average age – and average height – of the Grumpy Old Men team of Hash Runners.”