This is the busiest time of the year for runners, with the Cayman Marathon approaching in December. Yet at the start of this year, Andrew Keast was bursting with so much energy, he ran seven 26.2-mile races in as many months.
Keast completed marathons in Detroit, Palm Beach, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Cayman’s Off the Beaten Track 50 kilometer bush run, Los Angeles and London. They coincided with him turning 40, which seems to be a milestone for many locals taking up running seriously.
Needless to say, he enjoys competing abroad immensely. “I like entering into marathons overseas as it is a good excuse to go somewhere you haven’t been before and wouldn’t necessarily otherwise visit,” he said.
After a well-deserved break in the summer because “the last one hurt a bit,” Keast is tapering his training for the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 11.
Considering he pounds the roads so much now, it is surprising that Keast did only one marathon just before he came to live in Cayman five years ago, and barely ran before that. “I didn’t know how addictive it would become.”
The body secretes endorphins when subjected to exercise, giving a natural high, something Keast gets every time he trains. “No matter what mood I am in, I always feel better after a run.
“I run early on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and it is also great to see so many other people out there, exercising with different goals in mind.”
For Keast, the Chicago Marathon “should be a nice change from the sweltering weather we have had here over the summer.”
He hopes training will pay off, and Chicago’s cooler climate will seem like a breeze in comparison. Thankfully, the Windy City is not too chilly at this time of year.
Keast’s most pleasing sporting achievement to date was finishing second in the Fort Lauderdale marathon earlier this year, in his best ever time of 2 hours, 53 minutes.
“It was a great race. The top three runners were very close at the end and it was a race to the finish,” he said.
“This year generally has been very good to me as I have been consistently running marathons under three hours, which was a goal of mine for a long time.”
Getting overtaken by a man in costume as Shawn the Sheep in the London race has so far been his most quirky sporting experience.
Tackling those seven marathons was not as arduous for Keast as it sounds because the events became training runs themselves as a number of them were just weeks apart. “Quite a few were in Florida, so it was an easy trip with no jet-lag.”
Keast was one of the top finishers in the recent Fidelity Fun Run series, three 2-mile races. They were like sprints for him, but the fun atmosphere and community spirit made them still worth getting out of bed for at stupid’o’clock.
The other local events he usually participates in are the Cross Island Relay, Off The Beaten Track (which he has won) and a couple of 5K runs.
“I like the Cross Island Relay the most as it is a nice time of year to run [February] and it’s a fun team event.”
He does yoga and plays a little tennis, but finds that between work and marathon training there is not a lot of spare time. Marathons fulfill all his sporting ambitions for the moment.
“Fort Lauderdale has been the most satisfying as it is a perfect temperature and beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic. It also has a great party atmosphere afterwards.
“Detroit was also a lot of fun as it went into Canada and there were some really pretty neighborhoods in Detroit.”
Palm Beach was the most challenging for Keast as it ended up being 27.5 miles and he had not mentally prepared for that additional mile and a bit. “It seemed like three extra miles!”
In defiance of the aging process, Keast aims to one day run a 2:50 marathon. Not bad for someone who claims to not really have a sporting background. He played some team sports as a youngster, including cricket, touch rugby and mixed netball.
The Australian is a partner at Maples and Calder law firm and is probably one of only a few in Cayman who support the West Coast Eagles, an Australian Football League team.
Locals he admires “are Derek Larner and Marius Acker – not only because they are great runners and still doing what they do – but they always have a kind word of support or a tip to share.”
Keast appreciates the huge variety in Cayman’s sporting scene. “There are such a wide variety of sports for such a small population, and you know if you can do well here in this heat, you are going to fare pretty well overseas.”
He is not that keen about Cayman making its marquee sporting events – like the Cayman Marathon – much bigger with more overseas athletes. “I’m not sure it would be such a good idea for Cayman to be seen as a sporting tourism venue as the local events may lose their community vibe.”
As for his dream sporting achievement, it’s not hard to guess. “I would definitely have to choose the marathon as it is my favorite distance to run.”