Chris Sutton is one of the fittest athletes in the Cayman Islands, always one of the fastest finishers in cycling and running events and often a podium figure.
That’s despite him being old enough to be a father – and even grandad – to some of the winners, particularly Derek Larner’s teenage middle-distance runners.
Best known as a cyclist, Sutton has ridden since he was a youngster in England.
“However, before I came to Cayman I typically used to run or ride for waistline control,” he said. “I enjoyed the feeling on man-powered speed so naturally migrated to racing bikes, albeit purely for pleasure and nothing competitive.”
When he arrived in Cayman, his daily commute from home to office was 15 minutes, as opposed to 1½ hours in the U.K. It gave Sutton the opportunity to build fitness, allowing him to train more and become competitive, initially with the cycling association group rides and eventually to compete in local races.
His last competitive ride was the 10-mile time trial from Paradise Seaside Grill earlier this month, coming third in the master’s (45-plus) category behind David Cooke and Laurent Weber.
Migration from running and bike riding into triathlons was a logical transition as a new challenge emerged. Sutton has Marius Acker to thank/blame for planting the seed and encouraging him to try his first sprint distance event in 2010.
Since then, it’s become his preferred sport. “The three disciplines of swimming, riding and running creates a good all-round fitness and strength, which reduces the risk of repetitive strain injuries.”
Now super-fit, Sutton is glad that he can walk up the stairs at the office instead of having to wait for the elevator and he can get out of a chair without groaning “most of the time.”
The cycling and triathlon communities have an inclusive reputation, which is one reason Sutton enjoys his fitness regime so much.
“I can’t say enough about the amount of good spirit and motivation that the triathlon and running community provide.
“I’ve made many friends with people who you know you could rely on in a crisis. They are the reason for participating and I always appreciate the camaraderie of the competitors and the commitment of the race organizers who give up their time to keep us safe and enjoy the experience.”
He enjoys the annual Duathlon’s 2-mile runs and cycling stint most on the sporting calender because it does not involve swimming, his weakest element.
Having fulfilled most of his sporting ambitions, Sutton is constantly reminded by fellow athletes that he should attempt a gruelling Ironman’s 2.4-mile open water swim, 112-mile bike and full marathon run of 26.2 miles, but he simply does not have the time to train for one. “That’s my excuse anyway,” he said.
For someone so active now, Sutton’s formative years were surprisingly not that sporty. “Nothing spectacular, soccer and cricket at local club level and then, in an effort to maintain weight control, middle distance running and cycling. Unfortunately, my aging suspension prevents me doing the contact sports I used to enjoy.”
So how old is he? “I don’t have an age, you are only as old as you allow yourself to feel. Age is just a number and my current number is 62.”
With his wife he still has a house in England, near Reigate, Surrey. In Cayman, he runs Livingstone construction management company.
Sutton’s sporting heroes include cricketer Sir Clive Lloyd “because of his leadership skills,” the late Formula 1 driver Graham Hill “because he was a winner who risked his life every time he raced,” and cricketer Ian “Beefy” Botham “who always played to win and enjoys life to the full.”
Sutton thinks the Cayman sporting scene is predominantly geared to leisure participation but he “would like to see more encouragement for kids to fulfil their full potential after they leave school.”
He added, “Cayman has good facilities and structure for soccer, rugby, tennis and swimming but the minority sports should be supported so that training and encouragement and competition is made available to all.”
As for enhancing the local sporting tourism revenue, Sutton would like to see more elite teams and champions encouraged to visit “so that they can mentor and motivate the youngsters. I always wanted to emulate my sporting heroes.”
If he could be dominant in any event, Sutton would like to emulate Usain Bolt and be “the 100 meters world sprint champion for the feeling of being able to run like the wind and it’s all over in less than 10 seconds (excluding training).”
He attributes his fitness to James Murray’s Tuesday night boot camp sessions at Camana Bay. “I find them to be really beneficial because they are structured specifically for runners, providing a mixture of running and strength building exercises. More importantly, the sessions are motivational, enjoyable and free to all comers.”
The sporting scene in this region is always enjoyable for Sutton and he particularly savors being in the crowd at any Test cricket match in the Caribbean because it “provides a spectacle, fun, laughter and party spirit which cannot fail to leave a lasting memory, long after the memory of the game has faded.”
In the meantime, he will concentrate on preparing for the Cayman Olympic Triathlon on Nov. 1 followed by the Cayman half marathon a month later.