Kym Bailey is one of the fastest female road runners in Cayman, and at 43 she is evidently getting swifter.
Although she used to be a good runner at school and college in England, she really only got seriously into her running since moving to Cayman a few years ago.
Bailey used to run occasionally, but when her friends encouraged her to enter the Credit Union 5K in October 2013, where she came first in her age group, she looked on that as being the start of her new passion.
“I enjoy the freedom of running, especially here, where you can do it all year round,” she said. “Cayman has a great running community too.”
Bailey’s highlights so far have been finishing her first half-marathon here last December in 1 hour, 39 minutes and placing second female, then a few weeks later, finishing the Miami half-marathon in 1:35.
“I trained hard for my first half marathon and it felt good to know the hard work paid off. Also, being asked to be on the fastest female team in this year’s Cross Island Relay was a great moment for me.”
Husband Chris – who by coincidence also grew up in Birmingham, not far from Kym – has always been extremely sporty. He has a degree in sports science but has never been a natural runner. “Unlike me skipping over the earth when I run, he moves it when he runs!” says Kym.
The same friends who enticed Kym into running got Chris into cycling, and as he has always been a strong swimmer, triathlons were a natural progression. However, running was not his strongest area, but eventually he started joining Kym in races and he too ran the Cayman half-marathon four months ago and the Miami half.
Kym has applied for the Chicago Marathon in October this year and will find out if she is successful in a couple of weeks.
If so, she wants to do it within the time required to qualify for the Boston Marathon next April.
“I find having something to train for [is] motivating, and feel [that] pushing myself a bit further than I ever thought possible is a good thing.”
A tiny part of her would also like to attempt the full Off The Beaten Track next year.
Athletics and dance were Bailey’s main fitness activities at school in Solihull, but she mainly relied on gym and exercise classes for fitness until she started running again.
She recently started working with the Special Olympics Cayman Islands.
She works as an administrator and an outsourced services administrator through CML. She has also just qualified as a personal trainer through the International Sports Science Association. “So I am hoping to soon move into that area and be lucky enough to do the thing I love for a living,” she says.
Local athletes who inspire Bailey are Derek Haines and Kerry Kanuga. She said, “Having the dedication to carry out endurance events and all for charity is something I really admire and would love to do myself.”
She thinks Cayman has “a great sporting scene.”
She added, “There is so much variety in the types of sports and activities that are available here that you really can pretty much find at least one sport you can take part in.
“The races and community events on a regular basis really encourage people to take part, and I like the fact all levels are welcome.”
A member of the Wednesday Night Running Club, Bailey also does the Tuesday boot camp at the Cayman International School field, both of which are free and always welcome people of all levels of ability.
“Having experienced a couple of nasty falls whilst running on the roads here – and a couple of near misses with traffic – I do think Cayman would massively benefit from better running and cycling facilities,” she said.
“Even just ensuring roads have better [sidewalks] – or even have [sidewalks] or running and cycling lanes, and also better surfaces with no potholes, and better lighting would make a huge difference.”
She would love to see a purpose-built boardwalk type route somewhere on the island too, similar to what they have at South Beach in Miami, where there are pedestrian-friendly areas.
“For an island that has so many runners, we really need to look into making it safer to run here.”
To boost sports tourism in big local events such as the marathon and triathlon that already attract overseas competitors, Bailey would like to see the 26.2-mile run becoming one of the qualifying marathons to allow entry to major U.S. races such as Boston.
“It would encourage more runners over here and tourists to take part. More events such as Legends Tennis also would be a good draw for tourism.”
Bailey will be doing the Deputy Governor 5K run next, on April 26. “Funds raised go towards Special Olympics Cayman Islands, so it would be great to see as many runners and walkers as possible turn out to support this great charity.
“After that, Chris and I will be entering Team Bailey in the Duathlon in June.”
As for her sporting ambitions, she would love to be a marathon champion. “Actually, I would love to be a champion swimmer, but I am scared of going under water, which may be an issue in achieving that goal!
“Some of the best female runners on island at the moment are over 40, and this is very inspiring and challenging to people like me. You are never too old and age should never be an excuse not to push yourself to achieve your best.”