New faces to challenge for titles, says Raynor
New champions will be crowned in most of the categories of Bermuda Marathon Weekend, with only marathon winner Bryan Morseman, of the United States, returning to defend his title.
Diriba Degefa Yigezu, of Ethiopia, who became only the second runner to win the KPMG Front Street Mile, 10K and half-marathon in the same year, is not returning because of injury. Also not in the field is Christina Cazzola, the women’s mile winner from the US.
“The men’s and women’s mile champions had injuries a while ago and didn’t feel their fitness was up to where they would have liked it to be,” Anthony Raynor, the marathon and 10K race director, said.
“Jordan Chipangama [of Zambia] is coming back. He has won the 10K and half-marathon before, so you’ll see some new and old faces.”
Gemma Steel, the women’s 10K and half-marathon winner from England, will give Bermuda a miss because of a scheduling conflict.
“In 2016 and 2017 we had a group from England Athletics, but there’s a cross-country event [in Edinburgh] next weekend and they have focused on that this time around,” Raynor said.
Raynor admits that Bermuda Marathon Weekend has to compete with other races for runners.
“Competition is tough, just like the regular tourism industry in Bermuda,” he said.
“It’s a challenge and we have to try to distinguish ourselves from the others [and show] that we are close to the United States, affordable and that they will enjoy themselves.
“We expect the numbers to be similar to last year’s event. I’m sure the visitors will be happy to get here, considering the recent weather in the United States.
“We have registered participants from 14 countries, from Brazil to Hungary. The half-marathon event is the most popular.”
The Bermuda National Athletics Association works closely with the Bermuda Tourism Authority to boost visitors to the island at this time of the year.
“They are our biggest supporter,” Raynor said. “We’re expecting 650 to 700 people to run the mile.
“We’re hoping to get 1,000 participants for the 10K and another 700 is the goal for the half and full marathon.
“The visitors who are going to be here for the weekend will take advantage of the multiple events; it’s popular for the locals also to do the mile and one or two other events on the weekend.”