The toll exacted on the body by taking part in sport is one reason why non-sporty people claim they do not partake.
And they may have a point, judging by some of the entrants for this Sunday’s Cayman Islands half-marathon who will pitch up not 100 percent in shape.
But then again, that is the nature of entering sporting events. Setbacks, injuries, aches and pains are an integral part of it.
Ceretta Harvey and Kevin Connolly are regulars in many cycling, running and triathlon events who have overcome injury and illness to be on the starting line this weekend.
So compelling is the marathon atmosphere that weary runners are often seen sprinting to the finish line just to beat a random competitor beside them.
Harvey will register for the 13.1 mile run on Saturday, at the Packet Pickup at the Westin hotel. After procrastinating for months, she only started training on Sunday so knows this challenge is going to be particularly grueling. “I still can’t figure out why I do these things to myself,” she said, but missing the event completely is not an option.
The year began brightly enough with Harvey entering running events before she quickly turned to the bike for competition.
She had to undergo an emergency surgery and was not expected to ride or run again for at least six months, but filled with more determination than disappointment, Harvey was back on the bike in no time. “I am so thankful to God for granting such a rapid recovery,” she said.
She has noticed a gradual increase in the number of cyclists entering the many events that cycling association president Craig Merren and his colleagues have organized this year.
“I think, overall, more and more residents are becoming health conscious and are seeking fun and creative ways to incorporate exercise into their lifestyles,” Harvey said. “Though understandably it’s a bit scary to some, but those who dare get on a bicycle quickly fall in love with how fun it is to ride a bike while developing their fitness.”
Cycling is a huge sport in many other countries and has the potential to duplicate that success here, she added. “I trust as it continues to grow locally with the aid of good direction of the local cycling related associations and organizers, Cayman can develop this sport to the extent of creating an ideal sports tourism product.”
Connolly has not had the most active sporting year as he has been limited by a shoulder injury and eventually had surgery on it in October. “I’m now trying to get back in the mix of things,” he said.
His highlight so far was at the Cycling Time Trial Championships in June, finishing in the top five in his division in a personal best of 1 hour flat on the 38 kilometer course. “I surprised myself on that one and I’m really proud of that performance.”
The low points were sitting out a lot of the events he was looking forward to, particularly the Stroke & Stride series, ITU World Triathlon Championships in Chicago and the Cayman Triathlon. “It has been tough to sit on the sidelines knowing how badly I want to be out there,” he said.
“I’m hoping to make a full recovery from my shoulder surgery and return with a strong performance in the Cayman Triathlon next year. I’m also hoping to travel overseas in 2016 to do some races as well.”
Connolly has been a triathlete for a few years and has seen the sport grow significantly. He puts that down to the addictive nature of the sport. “We as athletes tend to be really proud of our endurance achievements and are almost always sharing our experiences with others.”
He also believes that social media plays a big part. “You can’t turn anywhere without seeing posts with athletes running, cycling or swimming on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – you name it.
“People see our posts and see us enjoying ourselves and accomplishing different goals and get inspired to do the same.”
He added that the good thing about it is that you do not need to be a Usain Bolt or world-class athlete, because “people of any fitness level can take part.”
Connolly added, “The hardest part is getting started, and I feel the inspiration from the local athletes here makes it that much easier for others.”