Kerri Kanuga's epic triumph

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Exuberant but exhausted, a triumphant
Kerri Kanuga crossed a makeshift finish line (festooned with “Happy Birthday” balloons) in Barkers Sunday evening, following her ultra-endurance run of 106 miles – the equivalent of four back-to-back marathons. 

Before beginning the terrestrial part of her challenge, Ms. Kanuga did a “warm-up swim” from Starfish Point near Rum Point to Barkers, traversing the choppy waters of the North Sound. 

Ms. Kanuga began her swim at 8 a.m. Saturday, and finished 3 hours and 15 minutes later. She completed her run in 31 hours and 23 minutes, arriving at Barkers in West Bay at 7:33 p.m. on Sunday. 

A small group of coaches, family members and supporters joined Ms. Kanuga at the finish line in Barkers. She appeared tired but in good spirits and in remarkably good shape. 

Ms. Kanuga embarked on her titanic feat to raise money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which researches childhood cancer.  

She ran the 53 miles from Barkers to Starfish Point and back again non-stop. The event coincided with her 45th birthday on Sunday.  

Ms. Kanuga was totally elated at the end. Amazingly, she stayed standing for nearly a half hour after the finish to pose for photos and mingle with friends and support crew before having an ice bath to soothe her aching muscles. 

Hannah Meeson, age 7, is one of the children in Cayman overcoming cancer who will benefit from this fundraiser. Hannah and her family supported Ms. Kanuga throughout her challenge.  

“We are humbled by Kerri’s incredible efforts this weekend – not only to raise much needed funds for childhood cancer research but also her dedication to spreading awareness of the impact of cancer on children,” said Gaylene Meeson, Hannah’s mother. “Kids like Hannah can’t fight cancer alone. Kerri is truly our hero.”  

When she crossed the finish, Ms. Kanuga bent down to touch the water’s edge at the North Sound and said, “This is for you, Hannah. We did it.” 

For Ms. Kanuga, the last mile was the longest. “I didn’t feel like the Barkers stretch would ever end!”  

She also said she had learned a lot over the course, including that when you plan to run that kind of distance “don’t kick it off with a 6-mile sea swim first.” 

Ms. Kanuga expressed her gratitude to her support team, all of those who have so generously donated to “Ker-A-Thon” and to all of the supporters along the route who lifted her spirits and kept her going. 

She said it was a real boost to hear people cheer and very emotional to see all the children along the road with their Kerri posters, spurring her on. 

More than $18,000 had been raised by Monday afternoon on the St. Baldrick’s online page. Supporters also gave Ms. Kanuga cash and checks en route and donations are still coming in. 

Amazingly, Ms. Kanuga, a realtor, went to work on Monday, and then spent some time with her family and friends who traveled to see her and enjoyed some belated birthday cake. 

Apart from multiple blisters, swollen knees and incredibly sore feet, she said she feels in good shape. “It was much harder than I thought it would be,” she said, adding, “I am grateful for everyone who came to run with me as they pulled me through it, along with the best crew ever. 

“I am grateful for everyone who made a donation to St. Baldrick’s and helped me raise awareness.” 

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Kerri Kanuga touches the water’s edge of the North Sound at Barkers Beach in West Bay after completing her 6-mile swim and 106-mile run on Sunday.

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Kerri Kanuga triumphantly finishes her 6-mile swim and 106-mile run Sunday, with a banner showing 7-year-old cancer survivor Hannah Meeson in the background. Hannah was Ms. Kanuga’s inspiration for undertaking the challenge. – PHOTOs: DAVID R. LEGGE

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Kerri Kanuga crosses the finish line at Barkers in West Bay some 36 hours after setting off. – PHOTO: DAVID R. LEGGE
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