Marathon veteran Derek Haines has had a quieter year than last, but he is still pounding the roads preparing for the big race and raising money for a worthy cause.
Haines raised well over $1 million in cash and services for a new Cayman HospiceCare building by running six marathons throughout 2014.
He tackles the Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon on Dec. 6, and this time his target is a more modest $50,000 for the Special Needs Foundation.
With the support of the Special Needs Foundation of Cayman and the Rotary Clubs of Grand Cayman and Grand Cayman Central, Haines will run the 26.2 miles despite suffering some ill health this year.
At least he had a nice distraction last month when he went to receive his appointment as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire from Prince William at Buckingham Palace.
With two weeks to go before the marathon, he has about $25,000 in pledges, together with 47 runners who have signed up for the Special Needs Foundation 50/50 Challenge.
Runners joining the challenge do not have to raise any money, “but it will be nice and much appreciated if they do,” Haines said. “It will certainly help with awareness of the Special Needs Foundation.”
Although a much lesser target, Haines has found it harder to get support this time.
“Compared to last year I think that we started quite late with this challenge,” he said. “Plus, there are many charities out there all looking for support, so we were a tad behind getting going.
“Also, last year’s hospice challenge was huge and that was bound to have an effect.”
His training so far has been “somewhat stop and start.”
Haines has been diagnosed with pneumonia three times this year. The last time, fortunately, not too serious but he is still recovering.
“So a big reduction in mileage and my longest run this year has been 16 miles, so I will have to pace myself carefully on the day.”
He will be “very pleased” to stay under 4 hours again. He finished in 3 hours, 58 minutes in 2014. “But I will have to just do my best on the day.”
Last year, the marathon was won by Justin Grunewald for a third time in four years. He finished in 2:47:11.
Haines is upbeat about this one. The 67-year-old Englishman has completed all but one of the local marathons since it started in 2002, including the 2005 post-Hurricane Ivan event when he came in sixth.
“The route was like Ground Zero on that occasion,” Haines remembers. Times have changed considerably since then and many visitors say the course is one of the most scenic they have encountered.
“I enjoy the atmosphere along the course and the drink stop volunteers are super fun and they really get into it,” Haines said.
He finished the race alongside his wife, Helen, daughter Lizzy – who was the second-fastest marathon female – and Governor Helen Kilpatrick, and his running partner Cindy Hew.
“That made it a day of days last year,” he said. “Plus, we had just gone past our target of $1 million for the new hospice building. The support along the route was also fantastic.
“The value of donations to the build has risen dramatically since the finish and that is also exciting.
“However, I am sure the race this year will be good fun and I am grateful as always to all of the community who so generously support.”
He said that receiving the MBE from Prince William in the presence of his family “was a great experience and we had a lovely day.”
The award was partly for his charity work, “but I never forget that none of it would happen without the wonderful generosity of folks in the Cayman community and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.”