Road running’s popularity is increasing substantially judging by the numbers that turned out for one of the biggest events of the year in the Cayman Islands.
A record number of teams participated in the Cross Island Relay on Sunday. The race was organised by the Hash House Harriers and sponsored by Fidelity and had 93 teams start at 6am near Collier’s Public Beach in East End as the six-member teams started the race across Grand Cayman. Each member ran roughly four miles.
It was sure to be hotly contested with the Bulldogs trying to repeat as champions but they knew the stiffest test would come from Cayman Express.
Sole Sisters were back trying to repeat winning the female division and KPMG Uno returned with several teams trying to hold onto the corporate title.
The first leg was fast as Dominic Corbin of Cayman Express ran the fastest individual leg of the day in 21 minutes, 23 seconds as his team jumped into the lead followed by the Massai Warriors and the Bulldogs with KPMG Uno heading up the corporate division in the fourth position overall.
Leg 2 saw Greg Meaker of Not A Very Creative Bunch of Runners storm into the second overall place with Cayman Express holding on to first.
Cajan Hounds overtook KPMG Uno to arrive in fourth overall place and the Sole Sisters were keeping pace leading the female division in ninth overall after another superb run by Beth Florek.
Cayman Express continued to run away from the field during the third leg through Marius Acker, while the other teams tried to keep pace and maintain their place for the final three legs.
The fourth leg saw Jason Saunders gain ground and he put the Bulldogs into second position while the youngsters in MDR’s A Team gained fourth overall place after the leg was completed.
The Sole Sisters continued to pass other teams climbing to seventh position and the Maples Marauders had a strong hold on the corporate lead at this point.
Leg 5 saw Mike Ridsdale of the Cajun Hounds run past the MDR’s A Team to put his team into the fourth position with only one relay leg to go.
Cayman Express were easily in first with the Bulldogs having a strong run to ensure a second place finish. Walkers Running were on the heels of the Maples Marauders as the corporate title would be decided in the final four miles.
The day’s final leg saw Cayman Express confirm victory with a nice run by David Walker with the Bulldogs second, a little more than six minutes slower.
Third and fourth positions were taken by Not A Very Creative Bunch of Runners and Cajun Hounds, respectively, while fifth in the overall division was the teenage team of MDR’s A Team.
The Sole Sisters finished ninth and were the first female team home. The WNRC Fierce Females and Jaxi’s Birthday Team rounded out the top three in the female division.
The corporate trophy went to the Maples Marauders, who won by nine minutes over Walkers Running. KPMG Uno took third.
Fidelity’s Tom Gammage, chief organiser and also a member of the Hash House Harriers, said: “Thank you to all of the runners who made this event such a success and the record breaking number of teams was a great show of support for the 39th running of the event.
“Next year the race is scheduled for 2 February and Hash hopes that 100 teams will participate in the event.
Results can be found online at http://www.caymanhash.com/Cayman_Hash_House_Harriers/Results.html
The Hash House Harriers run every Monday and all are invited to join. Details of the schedule can be found at http://www.caymanhash.com/Cayman_Hash_House_Harriers/Schedule.html
Gammage added: “We were delighted with the record turnout and thank the Hash House Harriers for organising another excellent Cross Island Relay and look forward to the event continuing to grow in the future.
“For Fidelity, I think the event went really well and we were delighted to see a record turnout.
“Given that the most we had previously was 80 teams and this time we had 93 I don’t think it is unrealistic to hope for over 100 next year.”
Gammage added: “It’s interesting to note that the winning team this year was fast, but still almost six minutes off the event record of 2 hours, 14 minutes and 3.7 seconds and the fastest leg this year, which I believe was the fastest for several years, was over a minute slower than the fastest leg ever recorded – 20 minutes and 12 seconds by Tim Byrne in 1984 – so there is still plenty of work to do to beat the records.
Paul Schreiner said: “Hash also thanks the Cayman Islands Cadet Corp for their help in marshalling the course.”
Fidelity’s Brett Hill is a Hash Hound member but not in great shape at the moment. “I got ousted for being too slow for the Grumpy Old Men,” he moaned. “I wouldn’t mind, but my replacement was an under-age ringer!”
Derek Larner was a member of the Bulldogs and was not at all disappointed that they lost their title.
“When you consider that Marius Acker was only the fourth fastest in his team, Cayman Express, it goes to show how high the level of competition has become.
“Being second place just in front of the third place team is a great achievement and we are all pleased with our individual performances.
“Once the teams were announced, we knew that we would have little chance of competing for first place and in fact, believed that there was a chance we could have been knocked down into third place.
“Jason Saunders’s strong performance on leg 4 was the difference between second and third place.”
Larner believes there could be over 100 teams next time. “It would seem that the running community is getting bigger.
“You only have to drive down South Sound in the morning to see how many people are pounding the tarmac every day.
“Reaching 100 teams is by no means impossible and we can only hope to build on what was achieved this time around.”
So will the Bulldogs get their bite back? “The bite has not gone,” he laughed. “We were simply beaten by a stronger team on the day.”
For him, one of the highlights was seeing the MDR’s A-Team with runners between the ages of 12 and 16 finish a credible third. “This is the next generation of Caymanian distance runners.”