On Sunday (11 November) 89 runners went ‘To Hell and Back’ at the annual Pirates Week 10k run.
For race winner Juan Pablo Valerio, an eight-month recovery from a heart condition that knocked him out of last year’s CARIFTA Games is the hellish place he’s fought to never hold him back again.
“There’s some little minor things that kind of jump out in the way,” said Valerio. “My chest might feel funny, or my legs, but it’s all there to test me, push me. If there’s a problem, face it.”
After meeting the CARIFTA standard in the Under-17 Boys 1500 meters, Valerio was slated to represent Cayman for the first time in his young career. Tragedy struck, however, at the CUC Championships when the 15-year old was sent to hospital and later diagnosed with Wolff Parkinson White syndrome. He was sidelined from competing at the CARIFTA Games.
Eight months later, he crossed the finished line with a new 10k personal best of 38:52.
“Just getting back into it, you’re not going to be the best that you were when you came off, but I tried my best and did what I could.”
345 Athletics Club Head Coach and President Derek Larner was at the finish line to greet his middle-distance pupil. Larner says he’s never looked better.
“He’s worked so hard, and we all felt for him,” said Larner. “Since he’s come back, and he’s been given the all clear, he’s worked hard. He’s earned this, and he deserves this. It’s almost like he’s never been out, he’s actually performing better now than at this time last year.”
Now that he’s healthy, Valerio says there’s one last thing he envisions: standing atop the podium, with a medal, at this year’s CARIFTA Games, in front of his home crowd.
“That’s the main thing on my mind now. The training, put the work in, getting up there.”
Here are the 2018/19 CARIFTA standards for Cayman Under-17 and Under-20 Boys and Girls athletes:
Here is an entire list of results from Sunday’s ‘To Hell and Back’ 10k run: