The first Cayman marathon took place on Sunday, 8 December 2002. It was organised by Tara Godfrey, a member of the community who was trying to raise funds for the newly formed Cayman Islands Cadet Corps. The event was called the Cadet Corps Marathon and featured a full marathon, half marathon, four-person marathon team relay and a 3k. Tara found a US-based company to time the race and registered the event with the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) who certified the course allowing it to become an official Boston Marathon qualifier race.
That first year 20 persons completed the full marathon and 62 participated in the half marathon. In addition, 18 teams and four 3k runners crossed the finish line.
Putting on an event like a marathon with all the different elements (water stops, ice, timing, volunteers, sponsors etc.) was a huge undertaking for someone who was doing it as a volunteer. Tara recognised this but she was also passionate about helping the Cadets and wanted the marathon to become an annual event on the Cayman Islands sports calendar. She decided to ask for help.
In 2003, she reached out to Kelly Holding Ltd. (KHL), an events and communications company, and asked if the KHL team would be willing to take over the event and continue her mission to raise funds for the organisation. Team KHL was more than willing and able to take on the challenge. In fact, KHL’s CEO, Rhonda Kelly, had participated in the inaugural marathon the previous year, completing her very first half marathon, and as both a participant and an event manager, had some ideas on how to enhance the event.
After doing some research, the first order of business was to change the name of the event to the Cayman Islands Marathon which KHL felt would brand the race as a destination marathon and appeal to an international audience.
Team KHL got to work doing what they did best: soliciting sponsorships, recruiting volunteers, marketing and promoting the event locally and internationally; finding a host hotel; transportation, creating a website…the list goes on.
The second annual Cayman Islands Marathon took place on Sunday, 7 December 2003, attracting similar numbers as the first year but KHL now had a better understanding of what needed to be done to boost numbers for 2004.
Then Hurricane Ivan devastated Grand Cayman in September 2004. With 95% of the country destroyed, the organisers had to move the Sunday, 5 December 2004 race to Sunday, 6 March 2005. In 2006 the event then reverted to the first Sunday in December and that has been the scheduled date for the race since.