Old hand, new challenger win Cayman Islands marathon

Steve Speirs, a veteran British runner, won his fourth Cayman Islands Intertrust Marathon Sunday, while a U.S. surgeon claimed her first Cayman title in the 26.2-mile race following the long-distance runner’s version of a photo-finish.

Thoracic surgeon Yvonne Carter and Caymanian-born Australia resident Lizzy Haines (who is also an M.D.) were neck-and-neck down the stretch, when Dr. Carter – still recovering from a torn calf muscle – turned on the speed. The American won it at three hours, 28 minutes, 31 seconds.

“About two miles from the finish, I caught up to [Dr. Carter],” said Dr. Haines, who finished just 15 seconds later. “But at 10 meters I just didn’t have it in my legs anymore – she had a little something extra.”

It was a challenging race for many of the runners, who were facing stiff headwinds toward the finish as Cayman’s Christmas breezes picked up along the George Town waterfront. Dr. Carter was limping a bit afterward. “That was painful, I didn’t know the wind was supposed blow you backwards.

“But the event was great, it’s my first time running the Cayman marathon. If you guys are hiring a surgeon, I’d love to move here tomorrow.”

Dr. Haines, the second-place finisher, can at least claim bragging rights for coming in ahead of her dad, Derek Haines, perhaps Cayman’s most famous marathon racer – who was about an hour off the female leaders’ pace. Dr. Haines said the last time she was in Cayman, in 2014, she also raced with her father, who undertook a series of marathons to raise funds for HospiceCare. “I guess I have to come back and see my parents sometime, right?” she joked.

While the women’s finish was a squeaker, 51-year-old Mr. Speirs won the men’s marathon with a six-and-a-half minute lead, finishing in two hours, 59 minutes, 54 seconds.

Mr. Speirs, a frequent visitor to Cayman, has come for every marathon since 2009. During that time, he has won the race four times and finished second five times.

“It’s been a good streak,” he said.

Mr. Speirs said he was actually in second place for most of the race but the men’s leader, Chadwick Webster of Cayman, suffered some late difficulties and Mr. Speirs took it from there. Mr. Webster still finished impressively in 11th place overall.

“It was a tough race, tough race,” Mr. Speirs said. “I finally managed to catch [Mr. Webster] at mile 23.”

Finishing ahead of Mr. Speirs was the marathon relay team representing track club “345 AC Skygods,” with 14-year-old John Gray High School student Juan Pablo Valerio carrying the last leg across the finish line. Teammate Alex Logvinov said team 345 is a perennial challenger. The four-man team finished in two hours, 54 minutes and one second.

“It’s our passion, we love to do it, we love to support our community,” Mr. Logvinov said. The two other team members were Levi Superville and Will Edwards.

In the half-marathon (13.1 miles), top finisher for the men’s group was Mark Hoey of Cork, Ireland at one hour, 17 minutes and 27 seconds. Mr. Hoey is visiting Cayman on his honeymoon with three-month pregnant wife Emma Hampshire, who also ran the half-marathon.

“We thought it would be quite a long way for us to go just to run a race, so incorporating the two seemed like a good idea,” Ms. Hampshire said.

The top women’s half-marathon finisher (and third overall) was Maggie Callahan at one hour, 27 minutes and 28 seconds.

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