It is December and the weary marathoner wants one more race but it has to be warm, flat, and a little adventure before the New Year begins. If that is your thought then the Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon fits the bill.
I decided to do just that for 2014. I signed up early for the Marathon for $75 and started receiving emails in September covering every aspect of the arrival, packet pickup, and race day. You receive confirmation and emails up to the week before the race scheduled for December 7th. They highlighted a unique service that upon arrival a special race only customs line is available that saved me 20 minutes clearing customs. Another key point is the race is scheduled on the last weekend before the Winter Caribbean rates go up so the hotels and condos are at their least expensive.
The expo was small for packet pickup but Bart Yasso of Runners World was there and gave a talk. Runners also signed up for a shuttle that took them to the start from the hotels and condos along Seven Mile Beach. They left at 4AM for the 5AM start. Since the whole island is 22 miles long by 4 miles wide it is not a long trip.
The race itself is a double loop that heavily favors the half marathon, so of 1200 starters, only 108 were marathoners. Cayman Island residents consisted of 1000 of the runners so it is a vibrant running community. I was one of the 240 foreign runners to make the journey. The start was 5AM exactly from the capital city of Georgetown across from the cruise ship wharfs. The warm part starts here. It was 75 degrees F that felt like 84 degrees F at the start and the announcer stated the temperature goes up 2 degrees an hour. For the half marathoner this is noise but the marathoners took note.
The race could not be flatter as we hugged the coast with the ocean in view much of the time. The island is British so the cars are reversed from how I train in the United States. There are 16 water stops per loop, giving the marathoners 32 stops. Water and food (cookies, peanuts but no Gel) is never far away. The water stops are enthusiastic and they should be as they stand to win a free flight from Cayman Airlines to Miami for being the most enthusiastic water stop.
My particular journey was affected by my heat index. I had altitude trained but everybody had some altitude benefits because we were at sea level. My first circuit was busy with runners and with my cautious approach I covered the first half in 2 hours 31 minutes. Now the lonely run started. Covering the same ground as the heat increased, it took some mental gymnastics to get to 16 miles and look 20 feet away to the other side of the road to see 22 miles. The water stops really stick it out for the slowest of the slow and I did not feel pressured as I walked/jogged the race. The course is open 7 and half hours and I needed 5 hours and 49 minutes to finish (3 hours 15 minutes on the second half). You receive a medal that weighs 5 pounds and you have access to fruit and beer (Caybrew another sponsor). In addition in 2014 Bart Yasso (Half Marathon 2:10) was present all morning greeting and talking to the finishers.
In summary the race met all my requirements along with a gratifying plunge in the ocean upon my return from the race which is a great way to recover. Also I can state I finished in the top 100 (97) in an International Marathon and received 3rd in my age group 60-69 (there were only three of us) so check the box for bragging.
Rating for the race Organization-A (From water stops to mile markers to logistics first class) Course-B (Cannot give an A to a double loop but flat with sights to see) Swag- A (Shirt is great “I Run This Island”, Medal will match any other marathon) After race Food – C (Fruit and Beer, Half Marathoners were drinking at 6:30AM).
By Michael Reynolds
Michael Reynolds is a Dublin, OH runner who has completed more than 1,000 races. The Intertrust
Cayman Islands Marathon was Mike’s 74th marathon, on his way to completing at least 100 marathons.