Sole Sisters will set the beat

Beth Florek is Mrs Perpetual Motion, always running and seeking her next marathon challenge. Five straight times winner of the Cayman Islands Intertrust Marathon, Florek is looking forward to other events in the coming months although work commitments curtail her involvement in the many on offer.

“I’m an accountant so January to April is a pretty busy time for me at work,” she says. “I know being busy is the number one excuse people make for not sticking to their routine or resolution of being healthy and active but when you’re busy is when you need it the most.

“It’s good for you physically and mentally, especially when you spend more hours than normal sitting in front of a computer. Everything always ends up getting done so I make sure to make myself a priority and still get in my daily run.”

That’s why the newly married speedster will be involved in several events in the next few weeks.

“I’ll be taking part in the Stride Against Cancer half-marathon on 27 January and the Cross Island Relay at the beginning of February,” she says.

“I enjoy the Stride run since it’s not a competitive race. The point is to raise money for the Cayman Islands Cancer Society and it doesn’t matter what your time is or your placing.

“The timing of the Stride run is perfect because I always load up on food the night before at Taste of Cayman. The Cross Island Relay is my 
avourite local event, apart from the marathon.

“Running as a part of a team is such a fun experience. My all female team, the Sole Sisters, will be back again.

“Last year was the first year we put an all female team together and we had great results and came in third place overall.

“One of our teammates moved away and another is quite pregnant so we have a couple new additions this year but our team is as strong as ever.”

Last year’s team was Beth, Pam Abbott, Megan Kounnas (since moved to New York), Tracey Walker (pregnant), Lauretta Bennett and Julie-Ann Pearson. Replacement members this year are Megan Kelly and Laura Knox-Clingerman.

There has been a huge increase in recent years of road runs and multi-discipline events. Florek does not see that as a problem in such a small pool.

“Cayman is a small market so there is definitely the potential of over saturation with so many events taking place over the next couple of months. However, the interest is there from the community so I don’t think we’re at the point yet of it being too much.

“Also, the events are quite different. There’s a half-Ironman distance triathlon this weekend at the Reef Resort in East End, a half-marathon/10k, a 24 mile team road relay, a one mile run and a 50k individual/team relay over various types of terrain.

“These different events attract all types of people. Last year, the Cross Island Relay and Off the Beaten Track experienced tremendous growth.

“I expect that trend to continue. Last year was the inaugural year for the Valentine’s Run and the Mercuryman Triathlon. Both were quite successful and I expect they will also experience growth.

“It would be great if the big events could be spread out more throughout the year but the major barrier to that is the weather. Once the late spring approaches it gets pretty miserable to train outside, let alone race.

“The winter months are the best in terms of weather for racing so it’s smart of the race organisers to take advantage of this and hold their races when they do.

“If, for example, there was a half-marathon scheduled for July, it would likely not get as many participants. I know I certainly wouldn’t run it at race effort.”

She does not feel that the events are lacking in keeping in line with similar, but bigger, ones abroad.

“I think there is a good mix of events and distances so I don’t think there’s anything lacking.”

Organisers here always want to see more overseas competitors, a welcome boost for sports tourism, but Florek feels the gradual annual growth is reflective of what perspective Cayman is in the scheme of things.

“There are thousands of races in North America and elsewhere that Cayman is competing with to attract participants,” she says. “Apart from the marathon, it’s very difficult for any of our local races to attract a significant number of overseas participants.

“As much as we love our local events and they are big to us, they are in fact very small. If people are going to travel to a race they want chip timing, a certified course, a finisher’s medal and the other amenities that come with professional events of the calibre that motivate someone to travel to.

“I personally don’t think we need any of these things locally but if you want to attract people from overseas, that’s a big part of what it’s going to take.

“You also have to remember that most overseas events that attract visitors are run by companies that are in the business of race directing. Again, excluding the Cayman Marathon, that is not the case here.

“The organisation of our local events is driven entirely by volunteers, all of whom do an exceptional job, however, without the time and the resources to dedicate to race directing, it is difficult to elevate the calibre of our events.”

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