Handicap excites even the slowest plodders

Cayman’s only handicap road race is back for another three-part series from Wednesday.  

Organized by Tony Watts, founder of the Wednesday Night Running Club, and triathlete Justine Plenkiewicz, the first run is on Wednesday, starting at 6:15 p.m. from the old World Gym on Lawrence Boulevard, with the next two on Oct. 9 and Oct. 23.  

It is the same three-mile/5K loop course as run in the previous four years, and although anyone can turn up and run, to be in with a shout of winning, overall entrants must have been running on at least three Wednesdays with the club, which meets every Wednesday outside the new World Gym entrance on West Bay Road at 6 p.m.  

Plenkiewicz calculates the start positions after assessing runners’ abilities from the regular club runs.  

Then the Race 2 handicap is calculated based on the run times for Race 1, and the Race 3 start times are based on the run times for Race 2.  

“The great thing about a time handicap race is that because the fastest people start last, everyone has an equal chance of winning,” said Watts. “If you’ve never been at the front before, this could be your chance.” 

World Gym member Evelin Ritch won the road race last year. The winner will be announced and a trophy presented at the social soon after the third race.  

Watts is an accomplished triathlete specializing in cycling. He is just returning after a long spell of injury. A regular on the local running and triathlon circuit, he started the Wednesday Night Running Club as another option for weekend warriors five years ago and has built up a big membership.  

Canadian Plenkiewicz, 34, is deputy head of policy and development at the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority. 

She has just returned from her birthplace of Wroclaw, Poland, where she had the satisfaction of beating her personal best time in the marathon by 10 minutes, lowering it to 3 hours, 48 minutes, 13 seconds. Her parents emigrated to Canada when she was a baby.  

“I was lucky that I was able to go back to Wroclaw several times since then to visit my family that still lives there – aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents,” Plenkiewicz said.  

“I have seen the city change a lot for the better over the years. Despite the fact that I never actually lived there, I am very attached to Wroclaw and think it is one of the prettiest and most happening cities in Poland and feel lucky that I was able to get to know it so well.”  

Elated but exhausted, her marathon celebrations consisted of only a quiet lunch with family. “The real celebration will happen with my friends and training partners when I get back to Cayman.”  

For the rest of the year, Plenkiewicz will probably take part in the 30 kilometer Halloween 10-10-10 run organized by Race Caribbean on Oct. 27, the Cayman Islands Triathlon on Nov. 3 and the Cayman Islands Marathon on Dec. 1. 

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Justine Plenkiewicz was elated with her marathon time.
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