Overcoming obstacles to run the Cayman Islands Marathon

William Foster and his children, Lily and Lucas.

The 2017 Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon takes place on Sunday, 3 December, and for some participants, crossing the finish line will mean more than just getting a shiny medal placed around their necks or posting a great time in the results. Instead, it will signify the achievement of a goal that a few months or years ago would have been impossible because of debilitating injuries and health issues.

Caymanian William Foster will be running his first half marathon, three years after suffering a massive stroke. He is determined to get fit again and, in doing so has discovered a passion for running.

“It has been a tremendously difficult road, and one that I am still on. I had a very dense right mid cerebral attack (ischemic stroke) leaving me completely paralyzed on my left side,” said 36-year old Foster. “I could not use the upper left side of my body for the first few weeks at all, until finally I felt a little movement in the shoulder. Slowly, things started to show signs of life, and today I am using my left side again, but in a diminished way.”

Foster says he was a very keen recreational athlete, and loved football, squash and baseball.  He proudly revealed that he did regain the ability to play two of the three, but sadly has lost the love for football because it just isn’t the same.

Instead he has developed a love for running and says it is the closest he feels to his former self.  He started out training with CrossFit 7 Mile’s Scott Ruby through his Couch to 5K programme and then progressed to the half marathon training.

“I actually think I am a better runner today than I was in the past because I have learned to be more strategic,” said Foster. “As my endurance and abilities have increased, I want to push myself a bit further, and that’s why I chose the Cayman Half Marathon. I am looking for any excuse to spend more time exercising as it has always been a part of my identity, and I am trying to reclaim as much of it as possible.”

Kelly Watson, like Foster, is no stranger to fighting her way back to health. She is also participating in the half marathon after recovering from back surgery.

“I originally looked at running as a way to try and lose weight – perhaps not the noblest of reasons to start something like running. However, I certainly have no regrets,” she said.

Watson joined the Couch 2 5K (“C25K”) programme which is run out of CrossFit 7 Mile and taught by Scott Ruby, and actually completed the 2016 half marathon under three hours using the techniques and tricks she learned in her classes.

However, 2017 took a bad turn when she discovered she had a collapsed disc, with the disc above the collapsed disc beginning to bulge out as well in her lower back. The subsequent surgery put her on the sidelines from March.

“All that time, all I could think of was getting back to running, and running under the coaching of Coach Scott and my new-found friends and running partners,” recalled Watson.

Once she was cleared to start running again, her two running partners stepped up and supported her by getting up at “crazy morning hours” to walk/run daily 5Ks with her as she worked to build back the strength and endurance that was lost.

“I am forever grateful to my running partners. I still have a long way to go to gain back my strength and ability, but I feel like the 2017 Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon is an event I need to do, just so that I know I can (still) do it,” she stated. “Even if I must walk a bit more than run, I will finish. 2018 now, that will be a completely different story!”

Yvonne Carter from Baltimore, Maryland is competing in the full marathon, her first time running the Cayman race and her first run after recovering from both a torn hamstring and a torn calf muscle. She is determined to finish her year strong.

“I set out to run three marathons and compete in at least five duathlons this year, but the torn hamstring and a complicated cross-country move prohibited that,” explained Carter. “After nursing my hamstring back to running condition, I tore my calf muscle about six weeks out from the Boston Marathon. Needless to say, my time sucked and I completely stopped running for about three months to give my calf time to heal.”

Yvonne says she saw a man wearing the 2016 Cayman Marathon shirt and decided to look the race up. Since it takes place later in the year, the Cayman run will allow her to fulfil one of her goals, and she’s hoping to end 2017 with a faster time than the disappointing one she ran in Boston.

You can register for the Intertrust Cayman Islands Marathon here.

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