The biggest local sporting event – the Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon – is staged on Sunday and, as always, there are plenty of intriguing athletes’ stories.
Scott Ruby and the Nikki’s Voice team coming together to help Nikki Christian become Cayman’s first assisted marathoner is one.
Veteran marathon man Derek Haines and 60-plus other “superheroes” are running for the Special Needs Foundations, with a goal of raising $50,000.
Chris Bailey is completing the fifth and final leg of his 640-mile challenge to raise money for the Cayman Life Foundation and the Guatemala Literacy Project.
There are also the Heroes for Hannah, supporting the child cancer charity, St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
The annual speculation about who will take the top spots in all categories is rife – whether it’s the usual suspects or some unknown visiting runner, particularly the winning female marathoner in the absence of a pregnant 2014 champion Beth Florek. There will be no shortage of excitement when the Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon, Half-Marathon and 4-Person Relay begins from 5 a.m. in front of Breezes by the Bay Restaurant on the waterfront.
The public always comes out in their masses to support this charity event, which raises money for the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps and the Cancer Society, as well as other organizations.
Up to Wednesday, organizers confirmed that 106 full marathoners, 729 half-marathoners, and 81 relay teams had entered.
With the usual flurry of last-minute entries by Saturday, usually about 100 new registrations, another impressive turnout is expected.
The race attracted just over 1,300 runners in 2014 and could top that number this year, its 13th staging.
Justin Grunewald has won the race three times in the past four years, but as of press time he had not entered.
That leaves Steve Spiers, the 2009 and 2010 champ, as starting favorite. The Welshman who lives in Virginia always comes with his wife Ally, who usually enters the half-marathon.
Barring a big upset, Marius Acker is likely to win the half-marathon again. The 44-year-old South African set the course record five years ago in 1 hour, 15 minutes, 49 seconds, and won this event last year in 1:19, eight minutes ahead of second-placed Benjamin Wuthrich.
Jason Saunders returned from a year off from injury in October and is back to his racing best, and says he wants the half-marathon title again, which he won in 2011 after Acker turned up seven minutes late for the start.
In the women’s half, Joanna Mansi won last year in 1:35, four minutes ahead of Kym Bailey, who in turn was just seconds ahead of Roz Glanfield. Bailey has entered plenty of races this year, including the Chicago Marathon in October, and will be a real contender to Mansi.
The relay race is likely to be won by Derek Larner’s MDR kids again. Teenagers like Delano Callender, Dominic Dyer, Will Edwards and Kiara McLaughlin are improving rapidly.
Larner is part of the British Bulldogs team that used to regularly win, but now concede to the youngsters.
The Kids Fun Run, sponsored by MILO and the Ministry of Community Affairs, Youth and Sports, will start at 10:30 a.m. from the new Government Administration Building on Elgin Avenue and end at the finish line just past Breezes by the Bay. This event is free for kids between 5 and 11 and is expected to reach an all-time high participation of 300 entrants.
The top three male and female marathoners and half-marathoners in the 29 and under, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, and 60 and over age categories will be awarded for their achievements.
The top three teams in the corporate, all-male, all-female, mixed and CUC High School challenge events will also receive awards.
Another exciting element that becomes more and more popular each year is the Water Stop Challenge – sponsored by Cayman Airways – where volunteers vie for runners’ votes and the chance to be lauded as the most exciting, enthusiastic, supportive water station. Jerome Ameline’s Revolutions Cycling won last year but will face stiff competition on Sunday from the likes of RE/MAX, Indian Water and the Red Cross.
With water stop themes such as Star Wars, Rock Your Run, Track & Field, Revolutions, Energy Saver and Christmas, runners will be entertained along the course.
“We are looking forward to a fun, safe and exciting race this weekend,” said race director Rhonda Kelly, who ensures the smooth running of the event with fellow race director Laurie-Ann Holding and colleagues Bev Sinclair and Brittany Kelly, along with hundreds of volunteers.
“Every year we continue to grow and we look forward to a memorable event in terms of numbers and great achievements,” said Kelly.
“This event is so inspirational and, at times, so emotional. We are just thrilled to be able to share these milestones and powerful moments with all our runners.”
And what great moments are expected.
Nikki Callender is running with a team of friends to raise funds for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Since fundraising for St. Baldrick’s began in Cayman in September 2013, the Heroes for Hannah fund has raised US$971,000. Callender’s goal is to reach US$1 million by Dec. 31 and she is hoping her team’s efforts will get them there.
Troy Johnson of Tennessee (USA) is completing his 238th full/ultramarathon and has run all 50 states twice and completed the Triple 7 Quest (seven full marathons in seven continents in seven days).
Physiotherapist Stephen Corridan (Cayman), 33, is doing his first half-marathon. He was in a car accident in Ireland when he was 7 that put him in a coma for a week and a wheelchair for two months. He never thought he would be able to do a half-marathon but is aiming to prove himself wrong.
Catriona Waugh (U.K.) will be raising money for a Scottish Charity called 500 Miles which supplies prosthetic limbs to people in Africa. Her aim is to complete 500 miles in races while she is 50 years old, anything from 5K runs to full marathons, and raise 5,000 pounds in the process.
Prisons Director Neil Lavis (Cayman) will be running for a boy in South Wales called Jacob who has cerebral palsy. All the money raised will go to Jacob’s family to help pay for treatment that he desperately needs.
Ethan Sigfusson-Humeniuk (Canada), age 13, will be accompanying his grandmother in the half-marathon as she completes her eighth race with Team Diabetes.
Jessamine Gilpin (U.K.), 75, who took up running at 60, will run her 12th full marathon alongside her daughter Jasmina (Cayman).
Adam Bordeaux of Connecticut (USA), 32, has chosen the Cayman Islands to complete his first full marathon.
Leslie Bromfield (Cayman) is walking her first half-marathon in honor of her son Jordan who has Down syndrome, and raising money for the Special Needs Foundation of Cayman.
“We are always amazed and inspired by the stories behind why people run our race, and we are just so honored to be a part of their experience,” said Kelly.
A small contingent from regular visitors Team Diabetes Canada will be lining up on race day, as well as a group of 30 runners from RunTheSol, a club out of New York, running Cayman for the first time.
More than 200 overseas runners accompanied by family and friends are registered to take part in the race, many of them repeat runners.
Organizers are asking for the public’s cooperation during the race by keeping traffic along the race route to a minimum, and in particular those people who live along the route are being asked to secure their dogs in their yards, and turn on their Christmas lights from 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning.
The race starts at Breezes by the Bay and goes through South Church Street, South Sound and Old Prospect Road, after which runners turn around and go back through South Sound and then onto Walkers and Hospital Roads, Elgin A
venue, Edward and Fort Streets and back to Breezes.
Late registration for all the races is at the Westin Resort Ballroom on Saturday during packet pick-up from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.