The inaugural Run in the Dark 5K in downtown George Town on Nov. 11 raised more than $1,600.
Through sign-ups, a generous sponsorship from Dr. Jennifer Royer Thompson at Back to Health Clinic and the addition of online sign-up before the day through the Run in the Dark website, it all came to a total of $1,664.
The 50-odd that entered helped raise money for the Mark Pollock Trust, a charity devoted to research paralysis and spinal cord injury.
Entrants wore flashing arm bands and started beside Margaritaville. They went around the loop course three times to complete it.
Pollock, 39, is an Irish adventurer, author and motivational speaker who has been blind since the age of 22. Based in Dublin, Pollock was once able-bodied but just weeks before his wedding five years ago, he fell from an upstairs window and suffered paralysis as a result. Prior to his fall, Pollock had taken part in extreme marathons, completed a 1,400-mile Round Ireland Yacht Race, and won bronze and silver medals for rowing at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
The Run in the Dark happens globally on the second Wednesday of November, mainly in towns and cities in the U.K., with pop-up participation in various places, starting in Australia and moving across time zones around the world, always commencing at 8 p.m. More than 9,000 people attended the Dublin event.
Cayman’s top three finishers were Phill Thompson, whose time was 19 minutes, 30 seconds, Neil Randell in 19:39 and top female finisher and third place overall was Jayme Farrel in 21:27.
Hannah Foreman, the organizer of Cayman’s event, had an accident six years ago which caused a spinal cord injury, leading her to have major surgery and to be partially paralyzed for two months.
“I was fortunate enough that I could retrain my legs to walk and now to look at me you’d have no idea,” she said. “Two years ago I heard about the Run in the Dark, originally through the Red Bull magazine.
“Reading the information about Mark and his story and the organization’s aim to find a cure for spinal cord injuries and paralysis, I felt it was extremely relatable to me.”
After participating in the Manchester Run in the Dark in the U.K. in 2013 and the following year, Foreman was eligible to set up her own pop-up location event and decided to create one here.
The 24-year-old Brit has lived here for 18 years and is now a Caymanian status holder and works at Stepping Stones Recruitment.
“I was fortunate enough that my accident eventually had a positive outcome, but there are millions of people who have life-changing things happen to them where their lives are never the same again,” Foreman said.
“I got a glimpse into how that feels. If we were able to stop that and have a spinal cord injury or paralysis be treated like a common cold through the discovery of a cure, I couldn’t think of anything more amazing.”
She said that all the feedback since the run has been positive. “The runners really enjoyed the route, that it was bendy and surprisingly well lit.
“The turnout was much more than I expected. I had 37 people sign up online and about another 20 sign up on the night, which was amazing. I’ve taken some personal judgments from it and things to improve on for next time, including offering a 10K route.”
Foreman added, “It was wonderful to have the people at Margaritaville helping to cheer everyone along from the balcony. The energy was great.”
From being in the hospital’s rehab unit for spinal cord injuries, Foreman knew several people whose lives were changed due to their injuries.
“A young man I went to school with suffered a spinal cord injury from a horrible car crash and is now paralyzed. I hope the Mark Pollock Trust can help all these people.
“Personally, I do not know Mark, but his story is incredibly inspiring to me.”
Visit www.markpollocktrust.org for more information.