Proud he kicked football aside

Conrad Proud must be one of the most versatile sportsmen in Cayman as he does so many extremely well.

Yet before arriving here five years ago, the 38-year-old Englishman only did one sport.

“Before coming here, I just played football, but since moving to Cayman I’ve taken up running and then triathlons,” he said. “I do still miss the social and team side of football, it was something I thought I’d be doing until I was well into my 40s but with the endurance events I find I’m actually getting better at them with age, whereas with football my abilities were definitely on the decline.”

He still plays Gaelic football and touch rugby in Cayman, which gives him the social and team side of things, but these are pretty much recreational activities rather than competitive.

A trust manager at Rawlinson & Hunter, he manages to cram sporting pursuits where possible around work and family life.

Proud was fifth last month in the duathlon and pleased to come in under the hour, which he did not think was achievable this year, having not ridden the bike since January’s Mercuryman and only arriving back from the U.K. the evening before.

“I know Paul Drake (one of the organizers) put a lot of effort into seeing the event grow and it is now becoming one of the more popular events on island, as well as one of the toughest,” he said.

Having taken the decision to start running seriously, Proud competed in the multi-sport events such as the Stroke and Stride and Cayman Triathlon for fun, but after having a few years of training hard for marathons and ultras, he saw the triathlons as a way of stepping back from the intensity and monotony of long-distance running whilst still being able to train hard and compete in quality events.

“As I’m not a particularly good swimmer and I probably don’t dedicate enough time to cycling, I still see running as my main sport and an event where I can set respectable goals,” he said.

That statement is backed up by the fact that he won the incredibly tough Off The Beaten Track a couple of years ago.

His plans are in limbo for now, as he is still waiting to see if his time in April’s London marathon of 3 hours, 08 minutes will be enough for entry into the Boston Marathon.

As with many triathlon newbies, Proud is also keen to tackle a full Ironman next year, having done four half Ironman events in the last 18 months.

Although with wife Julie they have a second baby on the way in October and it will be difficult to fit the necessary training in, he is inspired by last week’s completion of the Texas Ironman by Donna Harding, Dave Bennett, Tony Watts and Justine Plenkiewicz.

His next event will be the Flowers Sea Swim on June 14. Proud did the 5K swim last year, which for him was incredibly tough, but that was a one-off.

“It’s been a great experience getting involved in these events while living in Cayman. I’m not sure I would have been able to take them so seriously in the U.K., with the climate and commuting times.”

Another positive he finds about all sports on island is that anyone can take part and the newer a person is to a sport, the more willing people are to help and encourage.

Proud admires the excellent work Derek Larner has done coaching the young middle-distance runners with whom he sometimes trains.

“There are also people like Trevor Murphy and James Murray who put an incredible amount of time into encouraging people to participate in running and triathlons and the cycling association have been proactive in becoming an inclusive organization,” he said.

Proud likes seeing how informal groups are growing to inspire participation, such as the Daybreakers cyclists and the Flashy Nation group of mostly Caymanians with no affiliation to a particular sport, who encourage each other to compete and train together, sharing experiences and passing on tips.

“I think this has been one of the biggest developments I’ve seen in my time in Cayman and it can only be a good thing and hopefully it will encourage others to get out there and get involved.”

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