Road runners get a rare chance to test themselves over different terrain this weekend with the inaugural Cayman Cross Country race. It’s at an exclusive venue too, the North Sound Golf Course.
Organized by Race Caribbean, it starts at 6.45 a.m. Saturday and is over the classic cross country distance of 3.5 miles on an almost entirely grassy circuit.
Unlike many races in Cayman organized on the flat, macadam roads in the early hours before the sun gets too high, cross country generally requires grass, trails, hills and more grass to run on.
The North Sound Golf Club has graciously allowed this event, trusting that both organizers and runners will meticulously respect the course as it is a privilege to race at such a pristine venue. This is one of the few courses in Grand Cayman that has anything like an undulating course.
Race Caribbean’s chief timer Derek Larner is grateful to racing legend Phil Riposo for being the race director.
Riposo – owner of a U.S. based asset management firm – and his wife Hillary Shaw Riposo are from Massachusetts and are now living on Patrick’s Island.
Riposo has brought his love and knowledge of road racing, training, coaching and race management to Cayman and was only too happy to join Race Caribbean. He has raced in more than 800 events, is a former All-American athlete, coached cross country at high school level and was a race director for more than 25 years.
He is responsible for this course’s layout, markings, volunteer training and the logistics of pre-race planning and post-race events.
Other Race Caribbean volunteers will handle pre-race promotions, sponsor recruitment, electronic chip timing and finish line processing.
Admission is $15 for adults and $5 for runners under 20.
Besides being a race organizer, Larner is an accomplished runner himself and coach to some of the most talented youngsters in Cayman.
His MDR-A team smashed the long-standing Cayman Islands four-person marathon last month, and the MDR-B team was third, with only the British Bulldogs separating them.
Most of the kids are competing in this event, including Tahj Lewis, Will Edwards, Alex Logvinov, Dominic Dyer and Tiffany Cole.
Established runners already entered are Ronan O’Keefe, Helki Weber, Tobias Muchene, Gill Comins, Marco Miranda, Samuel Young, Simon Garnett and Joanna Mansi.
Larner said he would like to see accomplished runners like Dave Walker and Jason Saunders competing, if they are fit and available.
Cross country running events are widespread in England where it originated, and it has evolved into a worldwide sport. That’s despite conditions in the U.K. and the rest of Europe that are usually freezing, rainy, windy and mired in thick mud.
But as its popularity has grown globally in recent decades, these events are staged in more favorable settings, and Cayman has now joined the network.
Pre-race registration is extremely important to enable runners’ data to be entered into the results system and to ensure there are no delays
Race results will be instantly available on a 50-inch digital screen at the finish line tent thanks to the new technical advancements of Race Caribbean’s team. Trevor Murphy and Claire Griffin will help with the timing.
There is an awards ceremony afterward, in all the usual categories.
A departure from most running races in Cayman, there will be no walkers, no pets on leashes or baby running strollers due to the dictates of authentic cross country running and requirements of North Sound Golf Club to respect the course and accommodate the club’s first tee times of 7:30 a.m.
Larner emphasized the importance of competitors entering online to minimize pre-race registration because of the necessity to clear the area before the golfers start.
Race pre-registration is available on www.caymanactive, or contact Derek Larner for an entry form [email protected]