Plenty of runners in the Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon this weekend will be newbies to the road race scene, like April Panton, who has just become a grandmother but has no intention of taking up knitting or crocheting in her twilight years.
In fact, the athletic American from Fort Lauderdale, now a naturalized Caymanian, is only 43, and she was partly inspired by her 21-year-old daughter Erin, a keen runner herself.
April runs the 13.1 miles of the half-marathon, starting in a huge loop from Breezes by the Bay to Prospect Point and back via South Sound on Sunday from 5 a.m.
It is not really a daunting task for the senior vice-president of Advantage International Management where she is head of the client services department.
She has run several of the local short-distance runs and recently ran 12 miles in training in near her target time.
In her next race, Panton enters the Off The Beaten Track in February, a grueling event through undergrowth and other rough terrain. She has pulled an all-female team together for it.
“I decided to run the half-marathon back in July in order to get fit and healthy,” she said. “Recently becoming a grandmother made me want to ensure that I have sufficient energy to keep up and be a cool grandmother.
“Training for this event has taught me good discipline, not only with my training but also my eating, sleeping and overall general habits.”
Panton is not running for a charity as many do, as it’s her first big run and she was not really aware of the process for raising money for worthy causes.
“My goal is just fitness and health and I will continue to run and train for various events throughout the islands, as well as a few events that I will participate in overseas, such as the Pirates Plunder in Yakima Washington next October.”
She is hoping to finish the half-marathon within 2 hours and 45 minutes, a modest time for a newbie, but still not a shabby pace. Her 12-mile run two weeks ago took 2 hours 43 minutes and she has been working on her pace since, although she will definitely not be beside Erin.
“My daughter is a solid minute and a half per mile faster than I am, plus she maintains her pace quite gracefully.”
Panton has done some running, football, yoga and general gym workouts in fits and starts over the years and has always been fairly health conscious and in good shape. The training for this has helped her lose more than 20 pounds and plenty of inches in unwanted places.
Now totally into the running scene, there will not be a lapse after this weekend.
“I realize that in order to achieve long term success, I had to make lifestyle change. So I set my goal as being able to successfully complete the half marathon.
“In addition, as well as regular weekly training, I have also significantly changed my eating habits. All of this was not too difficult, mainly because I had a goal, but also because I keep myself surrounded with family and friends with the same goals, eating and fitness habits. A good support system is key to success.
“Erin and my best friend Victoria Hew are my running buddies and I am continually dragging them into or signing them up for events!”