The Cayman Islands is blessed with an impressive sporting calendar, and no matter what time of the year it is, there is always a major event going on. The most popular ones attract entrants from overseas, many of whom return every year.
Of the many sporting events that are staged here, the most popular are:
Introduced in 2013, the Mercuryman is for triathletes who want to test themselves to their limits without the inconvenience and expense of going abroad. This is the only half-Ironman staged in Cayman, consisting of a 1.2 mile open water swim, 56 mile bike ride and 13.1 mile half-marathon run. Held in East End, starting and finishing at the Wyndham Reef Resort, it is organized by the Cayman Islands Triathlon Association’s president Trevor Murphy, who always manages to attract professional triathletes from overseas. That tactic has worked because more pros are adding the Mercuryman to their competition diary.
When next staged on Jan. 17, the Generali Worldwide Mercuryman has chosen as its benefitting charity the Stroke Warriors of Cayman.
East End Primary School, which is supported every year, will also benefit.
The 2015 men’s race was won by Marius Acker, who has dominated the local triathlon scene for a decade.
“If the whole race is a little too much, athletes can opt for the aquabike, participate as a relay team or, new for 2016, go for the 2-2-2 relay,” Murphy said.
The 2-2-2 relay allows two triathletes to split the half-iron distance by tagging in and out throughout the swim, bike and run disciplines. Each registered 2-2-2 team has complete control to mix and match however they like, but each team member must complete half of each discipline.
“The 2016 Generali Worldwide Mercuryman will continue to attract both local and international professional triathletes because of the great feedback from athletes competing in previous years, as well as our excellent location,” Murphy said.
“Triathletes will enjoy East End’s clear waters, quiet roads for cycling and running, and an all-round excellent destination which athletes and their families can enjoy during their post-race vacation.”
Entrants can register online at mercurymantri.com/registration. Main registration is $170 for individual half-Ironman, $150 for aquabike and $250 for relay and 2-2-2 teams. All prices will increase in the new year.
For more information on Mercuryman, visit www.mercurymantri.com or contact [email protected]
Off The Beaten Track
Cayman’s weekend warriors will soon be getting ready for one of the most grueling athletic events in the 2016 sporting calendar, Off The Beaten Track.
The race, set for Feb. 21, has become a big attraction incredibly quickly due to its unique format.
Off The Beaten Track is a charitable 50K ultramarathon designed to emulate the Marathon des Sables.
It leads participants on an uncharted route through tropical bush, sandy beaches and the back roads of Grand Cayman, and offers challenging options for the seasoned individual runner. Relay teams of six can also participate running, on average, 8.5K each.
David Lim won the race in 2015 and Helki Weber was the women’s winner. Andrew Keast is a past winner and will be one of the race favorites if he enters next year.
Entry to the race costs US$300 for a relay team and US$100 for individuals. However, participants can benefit from significantly reduced rates by signing up before Jan. 7.
Off The Beaten Track annually supports an international charity, Facing Africa, and a local charity, Meals on Wheels.
Facing Africa is an established charity dedicated to helping children in Nigeria and Ethiopia affected by Noma, a deadly gangrenous infection that usually affects the face. With an average mortality rate of 90 percent, this curable disease is suffered primarily by children under the age of 6 caught in a vicious cycle of extreme poverty. Meals on Wheels operates with the intention that no senior citizen in the Cayman Islands will go hungry or experience social isolation.
Anna Keating, the Off The Beaten Track race director and marketing manager at KRyS Global, said, “Both charities resonate with our mission by supporting disenfranchised and vulnerable individuals who have not had the opportunities to have access to what we usually take for granted.
“We hope the money raised from Off The Beaten Track will enhance the lives of individuals, both at home and away.”
Established in 2010 by KRyS Global founder and ultramarathon runner Kenneth Krys, Off The Beaten Track is a marvelous alternative to the regular road runs. “From humble beginnings, Off The Beaten Track has become one of the premier running events in Cayman,” Krys said. “Each year this event gets bigger and better, and 2016’s event, our seventh year, will be no different.
“If 2015 is any indication, we can anticipate over 400 runners racing in teams or individually, demonstrating the increasing popularity of this ultramarathon and the island’s reputation as a world-class sporting destination.”
Krys wants the community to get involved, either by sponsoring, participating or volunteering on race day.
“Following on the heels of the Intertrust Marathon and the Cross Island Relay, the race also offers great sponsorship opportunities for both local and international organizations and the chance to partner with one of the most unique and challenging endurance events on the Cayman sports calendar,” he said.
For more information, go to www.offthebeatentrack.ky or contact [email protected] Global.com.
The annual Irish Jog 5K is always guaranteed participation of more than 1,000 runners and walkers.
As well as the elite runners like Conrad Proud, Derek Larner, Claire Critchley, Tahj Lewis, Leslie-Ann Daley, Tiffany Cole and Jason Saunders, a host of casual runners, walkers, children and even dogs turn out en masse for this spectacular emerald-green event, always held on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day.
Many go dressed for the occasion in suspenders, wigs, luminous socks and assorted costumes, and a few leprechauns are likely to make an appearance too.
The Irish Jog starts at 5:30 p.m. at Grand Cayman Beach Suites. The 3.1 mile course follows the cart path around the Britannia golf course and villas. The entry fee is $10 per person and all proceeds are donated to a charity.
The jog is co-sponsored each year by Butterfield Bank and Grand Cayman Beach Suites and has become one of Cayman’s most anticipated fun run/walk, attracting locals and overseas participants of all ages and abilities.
Group registration is always encouraged. Jog participants receive a T-shirt, race number and have the chance to win many fabulous spot prizes awarded on a draw basis.
Prizes range from water sport excursions to dinners for two and spa services. There are free hats, face stickers, wigs and other fun wear for everyone. Complimentary refreshments are available after the event.
For more information, visit www.ky.butterfieldgroup.com or call Rebecca Ebanks on 815-7797.
Flowers Sea Swim
The Flowers Sea Swim is the world’s richest open water swim, boasting more than $100,000 in random prizes and competition payments.
More than 900 people, including former Olympic champions and world record holders, regularly enter the June event.
It starts at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman beach with the leading pack crossing the finish line at Royal Palms in less than 20 minutes.
The event features swimmers of all ages and standards, with the slowest competitors allowed up to 75 minutes, when the cut-off time is enforced.
Olympic champions who entered last year included Ian Crocker, who set a world record at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 when he was 18, and Peter V
anderkaay, who has won four Olympic medals, including a bronze in the 400m freestyle in London in 2012.
Scott Goldblatt, who won relay gold in Athens 2004 with the U.S. team, also raced.
Cayman’s Olympic swimmers Brett and Shaune Fraser often enter this event, as does Heather Roffey, Cayman’s first female Olympic swimmer who participated in the 2004 Games in Athens, and Andrew Mackay, another Cayman Olympian.
In 2015, sea swim organizers Frank Flowers and Dara Flowers-Burke presented a check to Special Olympics of the Cayman Islands chairman Nick Freeland, who expressed his gratitude for the community support.
“It has been absolutely amazing to see the community rally behind these athletes in such a major way,” he said.
A total of 934 participants registered for the swim, and 189 people took part in the Walk and Watch, with 100 percent of the proceeds from both going to Cayman’s Special Olympics World Games team.
The Cayman Islands Triathlon is usually held on the first Sunday of November, and the 2015 staging attracted nearly 200 triathletes, the largest number of participants for a local triathlon.
Triathlon has grown more than any other sport in recent years and looks certain to continue. The fact that it is so pleasurable to swim, bike and run outdoors in Cayman is a major reason for triathlon’s popularity, as well as the fact that the event is extremely well organized.
Marius Acker took first overall in the men’s Olympic course of a 1,500 meter swim, 40K bike and 10K run in an impressive 2 hours, 14 minutes, 44 seconds. First-time Olympic distance competitor Stuart Bray took second place, ahead of 2015 double Ironman Dale Avery.
Visiting athlete and past winner Arwen Lawson secured the women’s title in 2 hours, 45 minutes and 43 seconds, while Michelle Bailey and Alyssa Dodson were close behind in a sprint finish to take second and third place, respectively.
Brandon Williams took the men’s sprint distance title in 1:13:15, with Graham Blyth and Daniel Cummings coming in second and third, respectively.
In the women’s sprint distance, Gill Comins and Elena Testori competed for the top spot, with Comins taking first place in 1:21:13, less than a minute ahead of Testori. Fleur Vagniez came in third.
A record 16 teams participated in the relay with top finishes earned by Tag You’re It! (mixed), Bailey’s Cream (mixed) and No Balloons (female).
The Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon, Half-Marathon, 4-Person Relay and Kids Fun Run attracted more than 1,300 entrants this year.
The race always starts at 5 a.m. at Breezes By The Bay Restaurant on the waterfront and takes runners along South Church Street into South Sound, onto Old Prospect Road where they turn around and go back onto South Sound and then up Walkers Road and Hospital Road into Central George Town, crossing the finish line at Breezes.
Runners love every aspect of the event, especially the themed water stations that lift flagging spirits in the searing sun. This year’s marathon was won by Pawel Kaszyca from Poland. The first woman to finish the marathon was Natalee Gooden-Burkard, who came in fifth overall. High school runners in Team MBR Boat Builders won the relay race.
Race director Rhonda Kelly said, “The Cayman Marathon will never be as big as a Boston or New York Marathon, but as it continues to grow we would like to see the Cayman community own this event as one that brings visitors to our beautiful shores, stimulates our economy in terms of money spent here by the tourists, and another way to promote the warmth and hospitality for which we are known, Caymankind.”
More details of the marathon can be found at www.CaymanIslands Marathon.com.