Within an hour of Rob de Castella's victory in the marathon at the 1982 Commonwealth Games, workers had started dismantling the stands on the streets of Brisbane.

Thirty-five runners had set off, several dropped out, and when Abel Smith Manumanua of Papua New Guinea trailed in 33 minutes after De Castella, who was Australia's best marathon runner of the time, the workers got started.

They thought Manumanua was the last finisher but 20 minutes later, another man crossed the line in a time of 3 hours 2min 33sec - more than 53 minutes behind De Castella.

It was Nick Akers, a man for whom the saying "it's the taking part that counts" might have been dreamt up.

"A provincial runner, not an international," was how he described himself.

He was representing the Cayman Islands despite having been there for only 10 days in his life.

Akers was so desperate to run in big races that for a while he changed his name to Nick Vladivar.

He was from Britain, where he trained with the 1980 Olympic champion Steve Ovett in his youth.

Akers moved to New Zealand, then Canada, holding passports for all three countries.

He was never good enough to represent any of them so he scoured the Commonwealth Games rules and wrote to Guernsey, Jersey and Fiji instead. No luck.

Then he discovered he could represent the Cayman Islands, with the help of a Montrealer, Joel Budd.

Budd, a Canadian, had gone to the Caribbean island to teach speed reading, and stayed.

He created an Olympic association and raised a team for the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton in 1978.

He was an engaging character who persuaded Ian Wooldridge, the eminent Daily Mail journalist, to march with the Cayman team at the Edmonton Opening Ceremony. Wooldridge was deemed an impostor by officials and it nearly led to the team's expulsion.

Akers could join the team provided he signed a deal: he must change his name to that of a popular brand of vodka.

Vladivar's sponsorship money would go to the Cayman sports bodies, Akers would be given the paperwork and a chance to run in the Commonwealth Games.

He got a Cayman driving licence but never a passport - somehow it was enough.

He ran in the 5,000 metres - heats, of course, not the final - in which he was slow, but not as slow as fellow Caymanian Godfrey Bevan, whose time in the other heat was four minutes worse.

In the 10,000m, "Vladivar" was a respectable 18th, and in the 1500m he was 35 seconds slower than gold medallist Dave Moorcroft but 35 seconds faster than the slowest man from the Turks & Caicos Islands.

He still holds the Caymanian record for the 10,000m.

Injury, and a dispute over his amateur status because of the vodka affiliation, kept him out of the Moscow Olympics but he was back for the 1982 Commonwealth Games.

He first ran in the 10,000m, in a slower time than he had posted in Edmonton, but still the faster of the two Cayman runners in the event.

Then came the marathon. At the end of the race he "was wandering around alone, not knowing anybody, and staggered into a pub". It was free drinks all round for him.

"I would say I represented the true amateur racers," said Akers, who changed his name back again after he became a father.

"Vladivar paid £10,000 but it went to the Commonwealth Games Association of the Cayman Islands.

"Whatever changed hands was between them and Joel Bonn, I was never paid a dollar. I ran in the true spirit of being an athlete. I wanted people to get into running."

In 2021, Akers added other records to his collection in Australia (he moves around a lot, and is back in Edmonton, Canada now).

These were the Northern Territories mile record for over-65s, and the Guinness World Record for the fastest 1km in snowshoes on sand.

"I hope these new exploits will silence the critics," he told insidethegames.

"I'm halfway through my autobiography titled Finishing last is hard to beat: A tribute to finishing last in the 1982 Commonwealth Games Marathon."