By Flynn Bush
On December 8th, the annual Cayman Islands Marathon was the main sporting event in the country. The island was host to hundreds of runners, dozens of which were from overseas. This has been the norm for all the years that the marathon has been in existence. However, an oft-overlooked aspect of the event, the kids fun run, has also reaped much benefit.
Routinely registrations in excess of 200 kids are received for this run. There have been some years where the number of entrants has eclipsed 300. This year was another bumper year as registrations hit 201.
To give some background, this children’s event has always been free for children from 5 to 12-years-old. "The Kids Fun Run was introduced to encourage children to put down their tablets, phones and other technologies and get more active," said Rhonda Kelly, Co-Race Director. "This age is an ideal time for them to start adopting healthier habits and understanding the importance of exercise. The Kids Fun Run helps them do that."
This year, the entire group of participants showed up in front of the Government Administration Building in anticipation of the start. Fitness guru, Laura Ribbons led the runners in a structured warm-up and stretching session. Then, the athletes were divided into groups by age; 5 to 8-years-old, 9 to 10-years-old, and 11 to 12-years-old. After that, the groups were staggered at the starting line with the older athletes at the front. With the runners chomping at the bit, the go signal was given; and they were off.
Along the street, around the curves and down to the finish line the athletes ran. Some ran with gusto the entire way and some ran and walked in spurts. Most stopped at the water stop midway throughout the course, but some bypassed it. Some participants covered the entire distance with a smile on their face and some only flashed their pearly whites when they crossed the finish line and had their medal placed upon their neck. For every one of them, though, the event ended well.
You see, the desired end-result is a healthier generation of young Caymanians who know the value of playing and moving outside. This event has achieved the initial stages of that goal. The proof is in the fact that year after year hundreds of young children get up in the morning to run just over half a mile with a bunch of their peers. They enjoy the comradery, friendly competition, and the feeling of accomplishment as they cross the finish line. We can all thank the organizers for that.