A strong and vigorous crowd turned out Sunday for the Nationwide Stride Against Cancer, the annual running fundraiser for the Cayman Islands Cancer Society.
Participants lined up early in the morning for their places at the starting line on Seven Mile Beach, and the runners had their choice of quarter-marathon or half-marathon race lengths.
Both races started and ended at Public Beach on West Bay Road. There was also a Mini Stride event on North Side, a Little Stride on Little Cayman and a Brac Stride for runners on Cayman Brac.
Two runners – Gregley Gayle and Esmond Brown – tied for the fastest time in Sunday’s race, crossing the finish line for the half-marathon in 1:31:30. Olivia Shanks was the fastest woman to finish the half-marathon in 1:34:47, and Michelle Vinton was the second-place finisher at 1:35:56.
“Nationwide Stride provides a chance for the whole community to unite in the fight against cancer; whether they live in Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac or Little Cayman,” said Jennifer Weber, the operations manager for the Cayman Islands Cancer Society. “For more than 20 years, people have been participating in honor or in memory of a loved one impacted by cancer.
“Some people form teams and write the name of the person they are ‘striding for’ on the back of their shirt. For supporters, it means a lot when they can do something to help us, help others.”
Ms. Weber said that the 2017 race marked the greatest need for financial assistance in the program’s history, and the CICS raised more than $400,000 that year for people in Cayman who have been diagnosed with cancer. The people in the race, she said, know that they are helping their neighbors by running.
Judy Wight, who did not officially enter the race, is one of the Stride’s most consistent competitors. Ms. Wight has participated in every Stride event since 1998, and while she began her tenure walking the half-marathon, she has graduated to running the whole distance over the last few years.
Ms. Wight started a half-hour before the rest of the race field on Sunday and finished her run in 2:10.
“I have lost quite a few close friends to cancer,” she said. “I think about them while I’m out there. I first started in 1998 with a couple of my girlfriends, but they weren’t consistent in doing it every year like me. When I start something, I’m consistent and I don’t like to change. I make it a routine.”
Ms. Wight said she hopes to run the Miami Marathon some day, but she will not do it as long as it conflicts with the Nationwide Stride. Her favorite part of the race, she said, is when she makes the turn at the halfway point and gets to see everybody else who has made the event a priority.
“When you’re on your way back and you see the people that are doing the six miles, it’s amazing how the street is crowded with people in support of the cause,” she said. “They get a great turnout every year, and it makes me happy to see the support the Cancer Society gets. It’s one of the most popular runs of the year. People are out there with families, pushing babies in strollers, walking with dogs.”