Larner gets hearts beating again

Hearts are fluttering a little faster this week – and it’s not just because it is Valentine’s Day on Thursday. 

The second annual Valentine’s Mile has had hearts beating quicker in preparation for what is a mere sprint for many local runners used to longer distances and triathlons, but the bragging rights are as significant as cupid’s blessings.  

It is on Sunday 17 February at 4.30pm at Cartier-Kirk Freeport on Cardinal Avenue in central George Town. It’s a different course from last year when held in Grand Harbour. 

There were over 350 entrants plus a kiddies’ race. This time there is a dog category too to accommodate the many canine lovers on Island and proceeds go to the Humane Society.  

Derek Larner of Race Caribbean is the creator and chief organiser of Valentine’s Mile. A coach, keen runner and volunteer himself, he hopes for another impressive turnout this weekend.  

“The Humane Society has had its volunteers signing people up plus a number have registered via CaymanActive,” he said.  

“We are hoping the change of venue to the centre of George Town will entice more participants and if we can match the 350 runners from last year, we will be very pleased. 

“Last year the start was a good 10 minutes walk away and some people were not too thrilled with that. This time the start and finish will be on Cardinal Avenue and the people I have spoken with are really enthusiastic about the change.  

“Location can make a difference, of course, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that many people will be interested in helping raise funds for the Cayman Islands Humane Society whilst getting a little fitter and hopefully enjoying their Sunday afternoon.” 

Everyone who is entered into the Valentine’s Mile will also be entered into the prize draw. There will be a raffle prizes from Kirk Freeport companies such as Rolex, Cartier, Longchamp and perfume baskets, plus sporting apparel from Cariloha along with gift certificates for Kirk stores. 

For the serious runners, there will be gift certificates of $500 for first place, $200 for second and $100 for third place in the adult male and female categories. 

“All proceeds from race participation goes directly to the Humane Society,” said Larner. “Dog walkers are welcome and will be put in the 4.30pm race.” 

Marius Acker won the inaugural race but since then Dominic Corbin has emerged as king of the short runs. Some of Larner’s youths he coaches have improved significantly too, particularly Tahj Lewis, so he too might be a threat.  

Of the women, teenager Tiffany Cole who was second in the inaugural race, could press last year’s winner Claire Critchley this time.  

Larner is not sure who will be in the mix. The top runners generally do not sign up until on the day but looking at the quality of runners in last week’s Cross Island Relay, he is hoping they turn up and record fast times.  

“Others who if running at their best could come into the frame include David Walker, James Ogden, Jonathan Shillito, Andrew Keast and Jason Saunders,” added Larner.  

“Tahj Lewis and Kirk Williamson have been running quick times for half-mile on the track and if they can convert the track form to the road, they may well surprise the top runners.  

“All of my youngsters will be running, including Tiffany Cole, Dominic Dyer, Kerryann Simpson, Jamie Montero and Ryan Kirkaldy. 

“This event is supported by the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps, an organisation which has helped a generation of Caymanian youngsters having just celebrated its tenth year.  

“The Corps is actively involved in many activities and can often be seen helping at races with marshalling, water stops, traffic control and so on.”  

It is only a mile so even the most pedestrian and moderately fit can compete and still have enough energy to romance their partners, plus money raised is for a worthy cause. 

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