Front Street noise hard to beat – Thie
James Thie, the two-times winner of the KPMG Invitational Elite Front Street Mile, still has the speed that could carry him to a history-making third victory in the event.
After a four-year gap the Wales runner is returning for Friday’s showcase race.
Thie is now 35 and ten years on from the moment that he set his mile career best of three minutes and 57 seconds in New York, but he has barely slowed down. He raced to a 3:44.25 time in a 1,500 metres event last summer.
In 2010, he reached the Commonwealth Games 1,500 metres final. Thie is a favourite athlete with Bermuda spectators and he is looking forward to returning to the Island and experiencing the “buzz of the weekend and, more than anything, the people”.
He said: “In my seven visits previous, it’s the kindness of the people that is hard to beat anywhere else. I’ve lost count of the invites to people’s houses for dinner, being taking around the Island and just looking after me from the start of visits to the end.
“Race-wise, I have missed that noise and sound from Front Street, as there has been no bigger roar in any race I have done around the world. It gives the December 27 400 metres hills reps I do meaning, as I know why I’m hurting my body.”
Thie said that he and fellow former Mile winners Neil Speaight and Paul Freary posted their winning Front Street photographs on Facebook during the past week “and everyone had the same expression of pure emotion on winning”.
Thie said: “It means that much to you and I would love that feeling one last time. If it was possible, I would love it to be dedicated to the Bermuda Marathon great Andy Holden, who lost his life last week, as everyone always talked about him while over.”
Holden, the British runner who died this month at the age of 65, won the marathon from 1979 to 1981. His 1980 record time of 2:15:20 has never been bettered on the Island.
Since his last appearance at the Bermuda Marathon Weekend in 2010, Thie has been back to university as a masters student and also worked as director and head coach with the Welsh Athletics sporting organisation. He has also become a dad, and has two children, Bella and Elliot.
“The coaching has really taken off and I have had five athletes taking UK national medals and go on to run for Great Britain,” he said.
Since moving into the masters 35 age group, he has competed in a number of big events. He finished fourth in the 1,500 at the World Masters indoor championships in Budapest and won the Welsh National Road Mile title last October against many younger athletes.
When asked what was his favourite memory from his previous visits to Bermuda, Thie said: “I think the whirlwind of the first year is hard to beat. The size and noise of the crowd in the last 200 metres was like nothing else. Then to wake up the next day and see your picture on the front and back of a national newspaper was just amazing.
“I then ran the 10K with some local junior athletes and everyone on the course was shouting my name. In the afternoon, I ran again and random cars were hooting and people were leaning out of windows to high five me.
Later that night, we went out for a beer and the bartender refused my money, saying ‘This one for the Mile champ’ was on him.
“I’m not sure how you top that.”
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