There is no doubt that the Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon is one of the most scenic in the world, which is partly why it grows exponentially every year.
Another reason is that the Kelly Holding team of race director Rhonda Kelly, Laurie-Ann Holding and Bev Sinclair devote the whole year to getting it absolutely right on the day, always on the first Sunday in December.
Their attention to detail is extraordinary and for going that extra mile, repeat visitors from all over the world are common.
For instance, Team Diabetes from Canada will arrive with more than 100 again.
The event is also famous for raising vast sums for charity, and this year is no different.
The Cayman Islands Cadet Corps and the Cayman Islands Cancer Society will benefit from proceeds. Private charity funds will again come from the likes of Derek Haines, who always collects tens of thousands for his chosen beneficiary, this year Feed Our Future.
This year, the 5 a.m. start is on Dec. 1, and with the race in its 11th year, indications are that it will be another record turnout.
For those not ready for the full marathon, the option to go in the half-marathon, four-person relay and a Kids Fun Run are extremely manageable. Even walking a half- marathon is acceptable.
Early local entrants for the marathon include Marco Miranda, Brent Buckner, Geoff Cornwall, Marita Naz, Jens Pankalla and Helki Weber.
Kelly is pleased that so many have committed already but would like to see more. She said: “Things are going fantastic, registrations are about what we would expect.
“We have seen some increases, which is what we always like to see. It has grown every year, which is something that we are very thankful for.”
Last year, a total of 1,200 entered in all categories and this year organizers ambitiously hope for 1,500. The team category has grown enormously in recent years and the trend looks like it’s continuing, especially with corporate entries.
An innovation started last year was to put names on bibs, which proved incredibly popular. It also helps the organizers get registrations in earlier. Personal names on bibs have to be registered by Friday, Nov. 1. Entry fees also go up after that date.
The popular water stops will be vying for supremacy again. The Caymanian Compass is entering one and hoping to win the most popular water stop prize ahead of the usual suspects like India and Red Cross.
“We always get a good response for water stops,” Kelly said. “We have a waiting list usually.”
Beth Florek, who has won the women’s title for the past five years, is pregnant with her first child and although she might still compete in an event, the full 26.2 mile prize is up for grabs. At least there will be a Florek in the marathon because husband Dan has entered.
“Beth was married here on marathon weekend last year, so we’re really excited to be celebrating with her,” said Kelly. “For the first time in five years, we are going to have a new ladies’ champ.
“As for the men, last year’s champ, Jon Rankin, has not registered yet. Steve Speirs is right behind him and definitely coming back from Virginia. We’re expecting Marius Acker coming for the half as usual.”
Kelly wants more volunteers to come forward, not just for the day but also the week leading up to the race.
“We are really thankful for the community support. Between sponsors, volunteers and runners, we feel love from them all. Many have said to me recently that they really love how people come out of their houses into their front yards to cheer the runners on. There seems to be such good support, and we’re really thankful for that.
“We ask the community to continue to do that. And if you don’t live on the route, come out anyway and cheer people on. You would be amazed how much our locals and visitors really appreciate that.”