Derek Haines is well on his way to the magic $1 million mark after a summer break, with two marathons to go.
The intrepid marathon runner has completed four of the six for the year and the next one is in Dublin, Ireland on Oct. 27, five days after his 66th birthday. His final marathon is in Cayman on Dec. 7.
Legs and limbs are creaking more, but extra motivation comes from the challenge of raising $1 million for a new Cayman HospiceCare building close to Camana Bay where Mr. Haines’s employers, Dart Enterprises have donated the land. Mr. Haines, a former police detective, is head of security at Camana Bay.
More than $700,000 has been pledged or donated so far, together with several companies offering their products and services free of charge. All funds are managed by Chris Johnson, accountant for the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman.
Donations to come in the near future include $50,000 from one local charity and Sol Petroleum (formerly Esso) giving a percentage of its gas revenue.
Blackbeard’s, Big Daddy’s and Jacques Scott all have events and campaigns planned, as do Digicel, LIME, John Doak Architecture and several professional bodies and other local companies.
Saturday’s Credit Union 5K run proceeds will go to the HospiceCare Challenge and the Adventist Church 10K next month is backing Mr. Haines as well. About 140 people registered for the Credit Union run. (More coverage on page 15).
For someone who now thinks nothing of averaging more than 70 miles a week from six runs, the Englishman got into this sport relatively late. Rugby was his sole sporting passion growing up in Leicester, which is why, for years, he has been the president of Cayman Islands Rugby Football Union.
Mr. Haines didn’t start pounding the roads until reaching the age of 32 when, as a policeman, he was posted to Hong Kong.
Having put on considerable weight in his new environment and enticed into a training run by a colleague, a rugby-fit Haines expected to breeze along.
He said he made the typical mistake of starting too fast initially. “At the end of the first mile in the searing heat, I thought I was going to die,” he said.
Lesson learned, he started alternate running and walking between lampposts until a continuos run was possible.
By the time Haines could amble along without stopping, a colleague suggested going to Macau for a marathon, which they did.
Haines finished in a respectable time of 3 hours, 46 minutes and has been doing the 26.2 mile events ever since, including his best time of a sub-three hour run at the London Marathon.
Now it’s under four hours he aims for. He still thoroughly enjoys running, partly because there is no cell phone on and he finds it a great stress reliever.
Age and injuries prevent him from playing more than one full-contact rugby match a year now and interests like golf, squash and tennis have no appeal. “I don’t have the skills for any of them,” he said. “Some people say I never had the skills for rugby either.”
The convenience of running is another enjoyable aspect. Mr. Haines runs to work and back all week from South Sound to Camana Bay, an 11-mile round trip. The big training run of up to 24 miles is made on weekends.
Mr. Haines sees his Herculean fundraising as a bonus, which started back in his London Marathon days. He has a mentally and physically disabled brother and used to raise money for relevant charities.
Raising a few thousand pounds in the U.K. was quite tough so it was refreshing to arrive in Cayman and find locals far more generous, Mr. Haines said.
He arrived here in 1995 via a short stint in Turks and Caicos but did not tackle another marathon – London – until six years later when completed with a couple of Cayman friends to raise funds for the Pines Retirement Home.
When the Cayman Marathon was introduced soon after, Haines continued running for local causes.
His largest amount raised prior to this series of marathons was for the new chemotherapy unit at the Cayman Islands Hospital two years ago, which raised more than $100,000. Last year, $37,000 was his achievement for the Feed Our Future charity.
The leap to the $1 million target came after a discussion with Chris Johnson over a couple of beers and a chance meeting the following day with Rankine McMillan, whose wife works at Cayman HospiceCare.
Mr. McMillan suggested he run to help raise funds for an urgently needed new building for the charity. The seven-figure target came about after looking at costings.
Mr. Haines said he does not view long-distance running as a monotonous pursuit. He has to stay sharp at all times because Cayman motorists constantly honk or shout encouragement, heckle, or absentmindedly almost knock him over.
Last Wednesday, he said he was running to work and a woman tying her hair in a bun with both hands while steering her car with her knees was not looking and only did not hit him because he shouted at her.
The previous week, another woman simply handed him a bottle of water out of her car, which was timely because severe dehydration was setting in.
Mr. Haines has an extraordinary running style, leaning to his right as if in pain, similar, he says, to Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre Dame character. In the story, Quasimodo falls in love with a beautiful woman who gives him water, which prompted Mr. Haines to reflect on the coincidence.
A year ago, a grandmother on a bicycle ran into Mr. Haines on Walkers Road. His long-time running partner, Cynthia Hew, was amused that Mr. Haines stopped his timing watch before inspecting his bloodied elbows and knee.
Every dollar is appreciated by Mr. Haines and amongst all the big donations, one of his fondest was when a dreadlocked cyclist he remembered from his former life approached him outside the Meals On Wheels building in George Town.
Expecting a request for money, Mr. Haines was pleasantly surprised when he received $6 for the challenge before the donator took off on his bike. “I thought it was a lovely gesture,” he said.
He loves this kind of community spirit, stressing that every penny donated goes towards the HospiceCare fund as the father of two pays all his own expenses for each marathon.
To donate and for more information, go to www.six4hospice.com.