Bailey braves jellyfish as challenge continues

Chris Bailey successfully completed the third of five stages of his 640 Challenge on Sunday by tackling the Ironman 70.3 Miami. 

Bailey created for himself the 640 Challenge: five sporting events to raise funds for literacy projects in Cayman and Guatemala. The distance from Cayman to Guatemala is 640 miles, hence the name. 

The money he raises will help two programs: the LIFE program – Literacy Is For Everyone – based in Grand Cayman with the goal of supporting people of all ages to read and gain learning they would otherwise not get, and the Guatemala Literacy project. 

This Miami triathlon takes place over a half-Ironman distance, and started with a grueling 1.2-mile sea swim in jellyfish-infested waters, followed by a 56-mile bike and topped off with a 13.1-mile half-marathon run. 

These Ironman events test everything from entrants’ organization and logistics skills to their fitness. 

“It’s not for the fainthearted, and mental strength will determine whether you succeed or not, that and mechanical issues which fortunately for me, I avoided,” Bailey said. 

Jon Roney, another Cayman resident, was not so lucky. He suffered a major bike breakage during transit from Cayman. 

Roney managed to get his bike completely rebuilt in about four hours thanks to City Bike. He went on to achieve an Ironman 70.3 personal best, finishing in 5 hours, 23 minutes. 

Bailey was still feeling the second part of the 640 Challenge in his legs, from the Chicago marathon just two weeks prior, and after completing two-thirds of the Ironman he knew he was in trouble. 

“I knew I was in for a struggle of a run as soon as I got off the bike, so I took my time in transition, tried to fuel as best I could and set off,” he said. 

Seeing his wife Kym just as he left the transition inspired him. She competed in the Miami Halloween half-marathon the day before and won third place in her age group and 11th overall female out of a field of 1,000. Despite a nagging knee injury, she still managed an excellent 1:38 time. 

Chris, meanwhile, plodded on to complete the Ironman in 6:15, a respectable time for his first one and considering he had already completed two challenges in the previous months. 

Graham Blyth, another Cayman resident, also completed his first Ironman 70.3 in a brilliant time of 5:22. 

Next up for Bailey is Pedal to the Point on Nov. 22. and finally, the Cayman half-marathon on Dec. 6. 

Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey completed a half-Ironman on Sunday. – PHOTO: RON SHILLINGFORD