Ultra-distance athlete Kerri Kanuga’s next sporting challenge is a relative sprint considering the toil of her two recent events.
Kanuga will be one of 900 entrants at the Flowers Mile Sea Swim along Seven Mile Beach on June 13.
After tackling the “Ker-a-thon,” a 106-mile run and a 6-mile swim in a single effort, in March, she completed the Keys100, a 100-mile run, last week.
It was from Key Largo to Key West in Florida and because she did it inside 24 hours – 23 hours and 42 minutes – earned her first belt buckle.
The history of awarding belt buckles is an interesting one. In 1974, Gordy Ainsleigh arrived at the Western States trail horse ride with a lame horse. As the horse could not compete, Gordy decided to compete on foot, something that had never been tried before. The event allows 24 hours to complete the race, and Gordy did it in 23:42 All riders who made the cutoff got a belt buckle, including Gordy.
His feat was the beginning of the Western States Endurance Run and definitive start of ultra-distance racing.
Kanuga said she was “very pleased with my results from the Keys100.”
In recent weeks she has been supplementing her runs by pushing a car tire – that she named Tyrone – which helped immensely her posture as well as overall strength.
Training in the Cayman heat also gave the 44-year-old realtor a huge advantage.
“I was fortunate to have a support vehicle manned by Tatum Jose, who seemed to work as hard as I did.
“Other runners with a support crew had between two and four people supporting them; she did it all on her own. “I could not have made it through without her support and encouragement. Not only did she support me during the race, but the days preparing up to event kept her busy also.”
Kanuga added that “the race was awesome!”
It started at 6:45 a.m. but became hot quickly, and there was very little shade on the course, which got to over 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
The first 50 miles were relatively comfortable. She was 27th overall of 144 people registered, and seventh woman at the halfway point.
“I assumed as there was no one around me, that I was at the back of the pack, not the front, so I slowed down.
“Then my stomach started acting up due to the heat, so I started walking and after the first 60 miles was not able to run as I got a knot in my calf the size of my fist.
“My tire training has made me a power walking expert, so I was able to muscle through to the end.”
Kanuga finished in 35th place overall and 10th female, second in her age group. It was so hot only 97 people finished and many ended up needing intravenous drips in hospital care and they even had to airlift one crew member from another team.
“I can’t wait to do it again!” she said.
She added, “These last few months have been a great learning experience. The Ker-a-thon taught me that anything is possible and the Keys100 taught me to never give up.
“I will use these philosophies in my future races, but I will also use them in my day-to-day personal and business interactions.”
Proceeds to charity
Kanuga is aiming to raise more than $35,000 with her runs and swims, all for St. Baldrick’s, which raises money for child cancer research.
She raised just over US$5,000 in the Swim Around Key West last year and another US$27,491 in the Ker-a-thon.