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'Fun run' tops off honeymoon delight in Caymans

October 09, 2003|by ANDY MASON

Clear, blue Caribbean waters. Blender drinks. Fresh seafood. Cuban cigars. My lovely wife Dani.

I must admit, it's been tough getting back into the swing of things after my honeymoon in the Cayman Islands last week.

Here, I'm just a sportswriter. There, I was an international sports star.

If you want to relax like a king, I highly recommend Grand Cayman. If you're into recreationally competitive running - as Dani and I are - and want to clean house, it's the place to go, too.

We discovered that on the last morning of our trip.

Every day last week in the Caymanian Compass, one of the country's two newspapers, there was a quarter-page ad for a two-mile road race on Saturday. Friday's edition even had a preview of the race as one of its leading stories in the sports section. It had all the makings of a major sporting event on the island - something for me to maybe write about when I returned.

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While we certainly had no intentions of "racing" during our honeymoon, it was only two miles and we did have our running shoes. We'd just treat it as a "fun run." The opportunity to pick up a race T-shirt from a foreign land just couldn't be dismissed.

And it became fairly apparent to us as we registered before the race that we were the only foreigners in the field. We were the only ones who paid the entry fee in non-island currency. And why would any normal tourists want to disrupt their vacation with something like this anyway?

It's stinking hot there, even in early October. The summer months are even worse. It's a seemingly impossible place for someone to become much of a runner. (Last year's Cayman Islands Marathon had only 17 finishers).

Still, I never expected to be holding down about 25th place 600 yards into the race. Though already sweating profusely, I wasn't out of my comfort zone.

Then, even more surprisingly, they just started dropping like flies in front of me. It was like a gym-class run. By the time I hit the half-way mark in 5:55 - only a blazing mile time in gym class - I was sixth, and full of smiles for all the photographers and cameramen.

So, to end the suspense, I didn't win. I finished fourth, while Dani was the award-winning third female.

All in all, it made for a nice flight home that evening. While we weren't flocked by reporters when we landed at BWI, we did get a surprise phone call from the race director the next day.

He thanked us for competing and told us he'd send us the story from the paper, which he was probably also writing because he was filled with questions.

Don't worry, though, I won't let it go to my head. The small box of Habanos I smuggled back will take care of that.




Andy Mason is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at andrewm@herald-mail.com

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