Race honours ‘people’s champion’ Donawa

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  • Runners prepare to start the Jay Donawa 5K (Photograph by Randall Lister)

    Runners prepare to start the Jay Donawa 5K (Photograph by Randall Lister)


Jay Donawa, the “people’s champion of Somerset”, has been recognised for his achievements by having a race held in his honour.

The Jay Donawa 5K took place yesterday and was a celebration of the runner’s 30-year career, which arguably reached its zenith when he won this year’s Appleby Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby.

Donawa became a folk hero when he claimed his maiden May 24 title, having placed second an incredible nine times.

It was an achievement rejoiced by many in Bermuda, none more so than the community in Sandys, where Donawa was born and bred.

The Sandys Parish Council, in partnership with Dennis Lister II and the Lister Agency, created the race to honour Donawa’s “perseverance, determination and commitment to athletics and for winning 24th of May.”

More than 100 runners took part in the 5K, which was won by Ryan Outerbridge in a time of 17min 23sec. Omari Hart came second in 18:22, with Edward Shun third in 18:54.

The top three women’s finishers were Tilly Norman (20:20), Georgia Wharton (21:58), and Deborah Norman (22:10).

The course ran from the railway trail at Somerset Bridge and finished at the Boaz Island field. There was also a shorter course for children.

Donawa said he was delighted to see so many people turn out to support and compete in the his first festive-season race.

“I want to be remembered as somebody who competed and worked hard [as a runner] for three decades,” Donawa said.

“I started in 1983 and I put in a lot of work, from the junior level right up to the senior level. And I just want to encourage the younger kids.”

Donawa’s second-oldest son, Mateo Donawa, has inherited his father’s distance-running genes. Mateo finished first in the 16 to 19 age category and 34th overall.

“I’m thankful to the Somerset community for putting this race on,” Mateo said.

“It was a really nice race and I’m proud that my dad won 24th of May.”

Vashun Blanchette, the newly elected president of Somerset Cricket Club, also took part in race, coming 41st in 32:18.

“He is the people’s champion of Somerset,” Blanchette said. “As president, it was only fitting for me to take part in this race.”

Dennis Lister III, a lifelong Somerset resident and the MP for Constituency 28, finished third in the 20 to 39 age category and fourteenth overall. He said: “He is a real inspiration to everyone to keep trying.”

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Published Dec 18, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 18, 2017 at 12:28 am)

Race honours ‘people’s champion’ Donawa

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