Gaspar runs for 'mental hygiene'

Marco Gaspar has been a regular member of the Wednesday Night Running Club since he joined in its weekly sessions four years ago. 

In fact, he became so good, that within a couple of years Gaspar won the club’s annual handicap three-race championship. 

He is hoping for a repeat of the title when it begins next month. The races are over five kilometers and runners start at different times, depending on their ability. 

Theoretically, the slowest runner can win the title because of the handicap system. Gaspar is by no means the slowest, but he is certainly not the club’s quickest either, so the handicap system devised by club founder Tony Watts and his colleague Justine Plenkiewicz, works well. 

The Wednesday Night Running Club meets every week at 6 p.m. outside World Gym behind Queensgate Plaza on West Bay Road. It attracts runners of all abilities and beginners are always welcome. 

Anyone can enter its handicap races but only club members in orange vests can actually score points and win the trophy. 

The race dates are all on Wednesdays with the meeting point at World Gym at 6 p.m. They are Sept. 30, Oct. 21 and Nov. 11. The presentation and annual party is on Nov. 18. 

The satisfaction Gaspar gets out of running “is a sort of a mental hygiene,” he said, adding that the enjoyment he gets out of WNRC sessions is “having a group to run together.” He likes the group’s relaxed and friendly atmosphere. 

“Sports for me was always for fun and was never competitive,” he said. The 46-year-old Brazilian, who works in banking and has lived in Cayman for 20 years, plays football to keep fit, which comes as no surprise considering his nationality. 

He appreciates all the choices the Cayman sporting scene has to offer. “For such a small island, I believe we have options for almost all types of sports. I think it is because of our wonderful weather.” 

Although there are plenty of football games over the weekend, involving men, women and youths, Gaspar feels they are not advertised well enough. He would love to see more local games. 

Cayman has a thriving sporting scene, helping add to the tourism product. He said that to increase revenue, “water sports tourism, mainly the ones that do not require waves, but calm waters,” should be promoted more. 

Presently enjoying the summer break, Gaspar will start serious training next month in preparation for the 13.1 mile half marathon at the Cayman Islands Marathon in December. If he could be a world or Olympic champion in one event, there is no doubt. “Football. After all, I’m Brazilian!” 

Marco Gaspar is a regular WNRC runner. - PHOTO: RON SHILLINGFORD

Marco Gaspar is a regular WNRC runner. – PHOTO: RON SHILLINGFORD