East End pupils feel grand now

One of Cayman’s newest sporting events has given back to a school in the area where it was staged and put a smile on the faces of the principal and pupils.

The Mercuryman Triathlon, sponsored by local law firm Maples and Calder, presented a check for US$1,000 to East End Primary School. It was gratefully accepted by the principal, Allison Wallace.

The donation represented the proceeds from the Mercuryman Triathlon’s inaugural event, which was held at The Reef Resort on Jan. 20.

The ultra-endurance event consisted of a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run. Individuals and teams from the Cayman Islands and overseas faced a two-loop swim course from The Reef Resort’s dock, a two-loop bike course around East End, Frank Sound and toward Rum Point, then finished with a four-loop half-marathon run on the Queen’s Highway.

Competitors who did not want to try the full event could take part in the Aquabike race, in which individuals did the swim and bike course only.

Aptly named, Mercuryman proved a long and hot race. Race directors, Justine Plenkiewicz, Johan Heath, Trevor Murphy and Claire Griffin chose to run the event in January, partly for the cooler weather, although on the day, cool was not an option. That did not stop 34 individuals and 14 teams from completing the event.

Professional triathletes Lesley Smith, Pedro Gomez and Guilherme Campos took part, with Gomez and Smith taking first and second places, respectively, in the half-iron distance event.

Mike Ridsdale was the first local athlete to finish, with an excellent time of 4 hours, 44 minutes. The Aquabike race was won by Sean Crothers in 3 hours 41 minutes.

For all competitors the race was a personal challenge, whether it was their first longer distance triathlon or not. But all praised the organizers and volunteers and the overseas participants were enthralled with the beautiful surroundings.

Plenkiewicz said, “We have the perfect venue in the Cayman Islands to hold a long distance triathlon.

“The Mercuryman Triathlon was a long time in the making and being able to hold such a successful event in the first year was a dream come true.”

“Mercuryman is more than a race, it’s also a vision,” said Murphy. “It‘s a vision that brings athletes, volunteers and spectators together to make life long memories. “This is the beginning of what will be a series of Mercuryman races globally. We are so thankful that Maples and Calder helped to make this possible.”

The decision to donate proceeds to East End Primary was an easy choice, according to Heath. He said, “Part of the long-term vision for the event is to make a measurable difference in the community of East End.

“The way to make the most impact is to start with education and thereby teach youngsters about the positive impact of sport on their lives from a very young age.”

The next Mercuryman triathlon is on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, at the Reef Resort. Anyone interested in registering, or finding out more about the race, is invited to visit www.mercurymantri.com.