Road runners finally get their chance to turn their months of hard slog in training into reality in the Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon on Sunday.
It also incorporates the half-marathon and four-person relay, from 5 a.m in front of Breezes by the Bay Restaurant on the waterfront.
Organizer Kelly Holding is encouraging the public to support this charity event, which raises funds for the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps and the Cancer Society as well as other organizations.
At least 100 runners are entered for the full-marathon (26.2 miles), with 700-plus expected to participate in the half-marathon, and more than 100 teams have registered for the relay, a significant increase over the numbers from last year.
The race attracted a total of 1,200 runners in 2012, and it could be 200 more this time. The event is in its 11th year.
The race starts at Breezes and goes through South Church Street, South Sound and Old Prospect Road, after which runners turn around and go back through South Sound and then onto Walkers and Hospital roads, Elgin Avenue, Edward and Fort streets and back to Breezes.
The Kids Fun Run, sponsored by MILO and the Ministry of Health, Youth, Sports & Culture, will start at 10:30 a.m. at the new Government Administration Building on Elgin Avenue and end at the Breezes by the Bay finish line.
This event is free for students between the ages of 5 and 11 and is expected to draw about 300 kids.
The top three male and female marathoners and half-marathoners in the 29 and under, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 and 60 and over age categories will be awarded for their achievements.
The top three teams in the corporate, all-male, all-female and mixed team events will also receive awards.
Brian Siemann and Ryan Chalmers, who have competed in the wheelchair half-marathon since it was introduced in 2008, are expected to compete again.
Another exciting element that becomes more and more popular each year is the Water Stop Challenge, where volunteers vie for runners’ votes and the chance to be lauded as the most exciting, enthusiastic, supportive water station.
With water stop themes such as A Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, M*A*S*H, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Caymanian Compass Paparazzi, Passage to India and United Nations, runners are sure to be entertained on the course.
“We are looking forward to a fun, safe and exciting race this weekend,” said race director Rhonda Kelly.
“Every year we continue to grow, and we look forward to a memorable event in terms of record numbers and great achievements. This event is so inspirational and at times so emotional. We are just thrilled to be able to share these milestones and powerful moments with our runners.”
There is a raft of great personal stories generating much interest, such as that of local runner Chadwick Webster, who will be running his first full marathon after placing fourth in the half in 2012 and third in 2011.
Michelle and Jon Baller from Colorado have chosen the Cayman Islands to run their first full marathon on Jon’s 40th birthday.
Doan Pham of Houston, Texas, is running her 30th full marathon on her 40th birthday, and her friends are here to compete in the relay as Team Doan Is Turning 40.
Floriza Bagaforo of California, local mother and daughter April and Erin Panton, Turid Bale of Norway and Jonathan Carter and Laura Sayer-Hall of the U.K. are all running their first half-marathon.
Peter Maier, 55, of Germany will be running his 101st marathon in his 63rd country.
Wanda Rice from George Town is running in honor of her mother, who has lung cancer, but just completed her fourth half-marathon last month on her 70th birthday.
Michelle Burke who originally signed up for the half-marathon was challenged by her employers to run the full marathon in exchange for a hefty donation to the cause for which she is running – the Humane Society.
Susan and Barry Lutzke from Greenwood, Indiana, will both be running the half to celebrate their wedding anniversary and Susan’s 55th birthday, and celebrated local Derek Haines will be running to raise funds for local charity Feed Our Future.
“We are always amazed and inspired by the stories behind why people run our race, and we are just so honored to be a part of their experience,” said Kelly.
There will be a new female full marathon champion crowned as five-time winner Beth Schreader-Florek is pregnant and will not be competing, but instead cheering her husband Dan Florek on in the full marathon category.
Marius Acker will be looking to retain his title as half-marathon champ, and American Justin Grunewald is returning to run the long distance after smashing the course record in 2011 in 2 hours 36 minutes 23 seconds.
Marina White of Irvine, California, who has run marathons in all 50 U.S. states and seven continents and is the Guinness world record holder for the youngest woman to complete 100 marathons, will also be participating.
Team Diabetes out of Canada, which brought a group of 100 plus last year, is returning with a contingent of about 100 runners and walkers to raise funds for the Canadian Diabetes Association. More than 300 overseas runners accompanied by family and friends are registered to take part in the race, many of them repeat runners, such as Steve and Ally Speirs out of Virginia, Kelley Garcia from New Mexico, Daniel Huisjer of Amsterdam and Noel Tucker, Gayla Landeros and Robin Tanner of Oklahoma.
The Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon is sponsored by Department of Tourism, Flowers Bottled Water, Gatorade, Digicel, Cost-U-Less, Breezes by the Bay Restaurant, Cayman First, Cayman National, CayCompass.com, Conyers Dill and Pearman, Cayman Airways, 106.1 KISS FM, Marriott Grand Cayman Resort, Dolphin Discovery, Ministry of Health, Sports, Youth and Culture, Kelly Holding Ltd, FastSigns, RVC Rehab Services/BioFreeze, Milo, Coppertone, Bliss Living Yoga, Tropicana Tours, KPMG, Quaker, CUC, RE/MAX Cayman Islands, Scotiabank, Caybrew Light, Smoothie King, Harneys, Coca-Cola, KRyS Global, Jetpack Cayman and The Final Touch.
Organizers are asking for the public’s cooperation during the race by keeping traffic along the race route to a minimum and in particular those people who live along the route are being asked to secure their dogs in their yards and turn on their Christmas lights from 4:30 a.m. on Sunday morning