Weber's ambitions have no boundaries

Helki Weber was the female winner of Sunday’s gruelling Halloween 10-10-10, yet she had only decided to enter the race the night before. 

The 30 kilometer race around East End was won by Chadwick Webster, beating his own record by three minutes to finish in 2 hours, 3 minutes, 17 seconds. Weber was eighth overall in 2:43:14 with her boyfriend Jens Pankalla finishing sixth in 2:39:29. She has won this event of roughly 18 miles before. 

Disappointed with the time, but thankful of winning again, Weber said, “Sunday’s race didn’t go as planned, but then again both Jens and myself were actually not going to do it.” 

They had filled out the form but decided not to enter as she had been battling a medial malleolus (leg) issue since their 50-mile ultra trail run in Wisconsin at the start of this month. 

It was in Eagle, Wisconsin, the Wisconsin 80.5K Ultra Trail Run. “It was beautiful but cold,” said Weber. “The average temperature that day was 46 degrees Fahrenheit. It was cloudy and windy. 

“We loved every minute of it despite the 7,000-ft elevation gain throughout the course. We met lots of lovely and amazing athletes out there and even met the two most famous ultra-runners, Dean Karnazes and Timothy Olson. Both are so humble.” 

Weber and Pankalla completed it together and their overall time was 10 hours, 19 minutes, 18 seconds and their average moving time (minus bathroom breaks and stops for food) was around 9:43:30 minutes. “We would go back and do it again,” said Pankalla. 

They had not rested after this event and hiked and jogged almost every day for 4-11 miles in Cayman. 

When Derek Larner, Race Caribbean director and Halloween run organizer, contacted them the night before, the couple got sucked into running. “We were looking at it as a fun run, no time goal,” said Weber. “Just to be out there with our friends was good enough.” 

This year she knew she would not beat her best time of 2:32:14. 

“I was OK with this, especially since my ankle was problematic and very painful by mile 9. From mile 13 on I had to walk and run. I just took it pretty easy. Next year I hopefully will be able to push it.” 

The weather conditions for the first 11 miles was a blessing for runners, despite heavy showers. 

This was the fifth staging of the Halloween runs, which besides the 30K solo, incorporated a 5K and a 10K three-member relay. It is growing in popularity and even the cyclists enjoy spectating, unused to having runners sharing with them the scenic roads. A group of Filipino riders cheered on their compatriots like Jalene Cruz, who finished strongly to come in third-fastest female. 

The Nikki’s Voice team of Nikki Christian and Scott Ruby was out practicing for the Cayman Islands marathon on Dec. 6. Ruby will push Christian – who has cerebral palsy – in her pram the 26.2 miles that day. Sunday’s combination of rainy conditions and extreme heat was ideal preparation for them. 

Relay races in Cayman are usually very predictable, but not this one. With more teams in the mix and some of the regular runners missing, it was an open race. 

The race started at 6 a.m. at Morritt’s along with the 51 runners who had entered the KRyS Global 30K run. The super-confidently named First Place lived up to their name and took the title. Phil Thompson started, handing over to Stuart Bray, and Matt Volkwyn ran the last leg. 

Volkwyn has been in super form recently, and it was no surprise that he would not let a lead slip and remained unchallenged for first place. The new champion of the Halloween 10-10-10 race completed his leg in 40:48. The team’s overall time was 2:07:46. 

In the women’s race, Marlena Williams came through the line first for the MDR Gurls with Team Bruce in second place, Ivory Costers third and CrossFit MKJ fourth. 

The corporate team race was won by The Ritz-Carlton, followed by KPMG in second place and Harmonic Trick or Trotters in third. 

Larner said, “Thanks to all of you who supported our event and we hope to see you all again next year. Thanks also to sponsors KRyS Global and to hosts Morritt’s.” 

Weber was able to pace herself at times with the relay runners she ran beside. The rainy weather had a cooling effect but it got tougher toward the end. 

“Once the sun came out it felt like I was being baked in an oven,” Weber said. “The heat off the road was a bit unbearable. I just remember my heart rate skyrocketing and I couldn’t get it down despite walking or drinking lots of electrolytes.” 

The Cayman Islands Triathlon is this Sunday at Public Beach. Weber and Pankalla are still undecided whether to enter. For the past few months, most of their attention was solely on running, with little to no cycling or swimming. If they do enter it will be slow and again, for fun. 

This year they have completed many bigger races, and many firsts such as Ironman Texas 140.6 and the Wisconsin ultra run. 

They also have many races scheduled for 2016, such as Mercuryman 70.3 in East End, Cayman’s Off the Beaten Track 50K, any number of 100K trail runs abroad and Ironman Chattanooga 140.6. “Let’s just say we both will be busy!” said Weber. 

Eventually they would like to compete in a 100-mile ultramarathon and possibly an ultra adventure race, which would include trekking, running, cycling and kayaking. 

“I would love to raise money for Paws, Humane Society and any other charity for animals,” Weber said. 

“I think we have done pretty good for ourselves in the four years since we started running,” she added. 

The pair did their first marathon, the Intertrust Cayman Islands, in December 2011, got their first bikes in 2013 and attempted a half-Ironman distance in 2014. 

“We can only keep pushing our bodies to see what amazing things [they are] capable of,” she said. 

Helki Weber
Helki Weber entered the Halloween 30K race on a whim. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD